common-law

1 of 2

adjective

com·​mon-law ˈkä-mən-ˌlȯ How to pronounce common-law (audio)
1
: of, relating to, or based on the common law
2
: relating to or based on a common-law marriage

common law

2 of 2

noun

: 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

Examples of common-law in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
Adjective
The victims have been identified as his common-law partner Amanda Clearwater, 30; their three children Bethany Manoakeesick, 6, Jayven Manoakeesick, 4, and 2-month-old Isabella Manoakeesick; and 17-year-old Myah Gratton, CBC reported. Samira Asma-Sadeque, Peoplemag, 14 Feb. 2024 Separations of those in other family relationships, such as adult siblings, cousins and common-law partners, make up the remainder of the total. Andrea Castillo, Los Angeles Times, 15 Dec. 2023 The site will also showcase regional heroes of the Underground Railroad, including the work of Smith, a freeborn woman with African American heritage who spent 21 years of her life as Stevens’ house manager and confidante (and, some speculate, his common-law wife). Tracy Schorn, Smithsonian Magazine, 1 Dec. 2023 The second half of the clause says that whoever the Senate convicts can still face criminal proceedings, meaning that the common-law rule of double jeopardy does not apply to Senate trials. Matt Ford, The New Republic, 6 Oct. 2023 Her body was found in a shallow grave in 1995, and the prime suspect was her estranged common-law husband, who lived with his parents and Snowball, their pet. Amber Dance, Smithsonian Magazine, 4 Oct. 2023 It’s said that her common-law husband, a white man, had refused to legally marry her, and had kept their daughter behind. oregonlive, 2 Sep. 2023 Cora Stewart traveled to Greece with author Stephen Crane and later became his common-law wife. Richard Byrne, The New Republic, 25 Aug. 2023 His ancestor Manuelita Guzman (1844–1916) is buried in the Historic Pinal Cemetery, also the resting place of Wyatt Earp’s common-law wife, Mattie Earp. Anita Snow, The Christian Science Monitor, 30 June 2023
Noun
Theft of between $100 and $1,500 carries a maximum of up to one year in prison, while misconduct in office, a common law misdemeanor, comes with any penalty a judge wishes, so long as it’s not considered cruel and unusual. Alex Mann, Baltimore Sun, 10 Jan. 2024 Phoenix mulls new homeless camping ban near schools, day care, despite legal perils Note: Under English common law since the 1600s, the builder of a cottage or a castle was required in perpetuity to repair any defects in the construction of the cottage or castle. Christopher A. Combs, The Arizona Republic, 9 Jan. 2024 Similarly to counterparts in Singapore and Hong Kong, ADGM also established a hybrid common law court which in turn is attracting legal talent to the region. Eleanor Pringle, Fortune, 28 Nov. 2023 Foster is suing Ball, MB1 Enterprises and Puma for federal and common law trademark infringement, trademark dilution, unfair business practices, fraud and concealment of facts and conversion (LaVar Ball is also included on the last cause of action). Chuck Schilken, Los Angeles Times, 13 Nov. 2023 According to the court document, Doe is asserting claims pursuant to inter alia, New York common law for assault and battery; the New York City Victims of Gender-Motivated Violence Protection Act; and the New York City Human Rights Law. Steven J. Horowitz, Variety, 22 Nov. 2023 Wives were still subject to the English common law of coverture, which gave husbands control of their property; women had next-to-no political rights. Melanie Kirkpatrick, WSJ, 20 Nov. 2023 The idea of safeguarding peace has long been accepted as having a place in U.S. constitutional law, as an extension of English common law, Professor Blocher says. Patrik Jonsson, The Christian Science Monitor, 1 Nov. 2023 The consortium of media organizations sought the unsealing of the records, citing First Amendment and common law rights of access to the information. Scott MacFarlane, CBS News, 9 June 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'common-law.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

Adjective

1619, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of common-law was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near common-law

common land

common-law

common law

Cite this Entry

“Common-law.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/common-law. Accessed 4 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition

common law

noun
: a group of legal practices and traditions originating in judges' decisions in earlier cases and in social customs and having the same force in most of the U.S. as if passed into law by a legislative body

Legal Definition

common law

1 of 2 noun
: 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 preservedU.S. Constitution amend. VII
compare equity sense 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 sense 2, statutory law

common-law

2 of 2 adjective
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
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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