civil law

noun, often capitalized C&L

Definition of civil law

1 : Roman law especially as set forth in the Justinian code
2 : the body of private law developed from Roman law and used in Louisiana and in many countries outside the English-speaking world
3 : the law established by a nation or state for its own jurisdiction
4 : the law of civil or private rights

Examples of civil law in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Recent defections have whittled the ruling coalition’s voting power to just 60 seats in the 120-seat parliament, and political observers said the standoff on civil law could well be the blow that collapses the government. Shira Rubin, Washington Post, 12 June 2022 Legal practice: Private practice with a focus on civil law, 1987 to 2015; San Diego Superior Court commissioner, 2015 to present. Alex Riggins, San Diego Union-Tribune, 27 May 2022 In allowing the subpoenas, Engoron rejected arguments from Trump attorneys that James is politically biased against the former president, and is using a civil law investigation to advance a criminal case against him. Kevin Johnson, USA TODAY, 17 Feb. 2022 The Detroit eviction hotline has been operated by Wayne Metro since the organization took over its operations from Lakeshore Legal Aid, a not-for-profit civil law firm, in March. Miriam Marini, Detroit Free Press, 17 Dec. 2021 Those effects include their encouraging observance of civil law and churchgoers’ improved health and longevity recently highlighted in a cover story in Christianity Today. The Salt Lake Tribune, 13 Nov. 2021 In Asghar Farhadi’s films, the institutional boxes his characters live in, seemingly solid structures of any society — justice system, civil law, family, religion — crumble in the face of the complexity of human situation. Meta Mazaj, Variety, 22 Dec. 2021 But the 11-member panel determined that five of the defendants — including Kessler, Spencer and Cantwell — were liable for engaging in racial, religious, or ethnic harassment or violence, in violation of Virginia state civil law. Nicole Sganga, CBS News, 24 Nov. 2021 Running the prosecutor’s office and a large civil law firm allowed the Murdaughs to do it quietly, until recently., 28 Sep. 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'civil law.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of civil law

circa 1500, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for civil law

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The first known use of civil law was circa 1500

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Dictionary Entries Near civil law


civil law

civil liberty

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Statistics for civil law

Last Updated

17 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Civil law.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Jul. 2022.

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More Definitions for civil law

civil law

noun, often capitalized C&L

Legal Definition of civil law

1 : Roman law especially as set forth in the Code of Justinian
2 : the body of law developed from Roman law and used in Louisiana, in continental Europe, and in many other countries outside of the English-speaking world including especially those that were colonized by countries of continental Europe — compare common law

Note: Although Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. whose law is based entirely on civil law, remnants of civil law remain in other states (as Texas and California) in which countries of continental Europe had a strong influence.

3 : the law established by a nation or state for its own jurisdiction
4 : the law that applies to private rights especially as opposed to the law that applies to criminal matters — compare criminal law

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