common-law

play
adjective com·mon-law \ ˈkä-mən-ˌlȯ \

Definition of common-law

1 :of, relating to, or based on the common law
2 :relating to or based on a common-law marriage

First Known Use of common-law

1619


common law

noun

Definition of common law

:the body of law developed in England primarily from judicial decisions based on custom and precedent, unwritten in statute or code, and constituting the basis of the English legal system and of the system in all of the U.S. except Louisiana

First Known Use of common law

14th century


COMMON-LAW Defined for English Language Learners

common-law

play
adjective

Definition of common-law for English Language Learners

  • —used to describe a relationship between a man and a woman that is considered to be a marriage because the man and woman have lived together for a long period of time


common law

noun

Definition of common law for English Language Learners

  • : the laws that developed from English court decisions and customs and that form the basis of laws in the U.S.


Law Dictionary

common law

noun

legal Definition of common law

:a body of law that is based on custom and general principles and embodied in case law and that serves as precedent or is applied to situations not covered by statute
  • the common law of torts
: as
a :the body of law that was first developed in the English courts of law as distinguished from equity and that allows for particular remedies (as damages or replevin)
  • in suits at common law…the right of trial by jury shall be preserved
  • U.S. Constitution amend. VII
— compare equity 2
b :the body of law developed in England that is the basis of U.S. federal law and of state law in all states except Louisiana — compare civil law 2, statutory law

common-law

adjective

legal Definition of common-law

1 :of, relating to, or based on the common law
  • common-law immunity
2 :relating to or based on a common-law marriage
  • her common-law husband

Learn More about common-law


Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up common-law? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

WORD OF THE DAY

a strongly worded attack

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Merriam-Webster's New Words Quiz—Fall 2017 Edition!

  • young-plant-shoots
  • Which of the following is a new sense of the word bunny?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!