corpus delicti

noun
cor·​pus de·​lic·​ti | \ ˈkȯr-pəs-di-ˈlik-ˌtī How to pronounce corpus delicti (audio) , -(ˌ)tē \
plural corpora delicti

Definition of corpus delicti

1 : the substantial and fundamental fact necessary to prove the commission of a crime
2 : the material substance (such as the body of the victim of a murder) upon which a crime has been committed

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Corpus delicti literally means "body of the crime" in Latin. In its original sense, the body in question refers not to a corpse but to the body of essential facts that, taken together, prove that a crime has been committed. In popular usage, corpus delicti also refers to the actual physical object upon which a crime has been committed. In a case of arson, it would be a ruined building; in a murder case, the victim's corpse.

Examples of corpus delicti in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web As defense attorney Leroy Tozier noted, the prosecution had only produced a corpus — Jaconi’s actual corpse — and not the corpus delicti — the concrete evidence of guilt. David Reamer, Anchorage Daily News, 16 Aug. 2021

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

First Known Use of corpus delicti

1818, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for corpus delicti

borrowed from New Latin corpus dēlictī "body of the misdeed"

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Time Traveler for corpus delicti

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The first known use of corpus delicti was in 1818

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Dictionary Entries Near corpus delicti

corpusculum

corpus delicti

corpus luteum

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Cite this Entry

“Corpus delicti.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/corpus%20delicti. Accessed 26 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for corpus delicti

corpus delicti

noun
corpus de·​lic·​ti | \ -di-ˈlik-ˌtī, -(ˌ)tē How to pronounce corpus delicti (audio) \
plural corpora delicti

Medical Definition of corpus delicti

1 : the substantial and fundamental fact (as, in murder, actual death and its occurrence as a result of criminal agency) necessary to prove the commission of a crime
2 : the material substance (as the body of the victim of a murder) upon which a crime has been committed

corpus delicti

noun
corpus de·​lic·​ti | \ -di-ˈlik-ˌtī, -dā-, -tē How to pronounce corpus delicti (audio) \

Legal Definition of corpus delicti

: the substance of a crime that the prosecutor must prove and that consists of an injury or loss (as death of a victim or disappearance of property) and the criminal act that resulted in it

History and Etymology for corpus delicti

New Latin, literally, the body of the offense

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