cruel and unusual punishment

Definition of cruel and unusual punishment

  1. :  punishment that is very harsh and too severe for the crime The law forbids cruel and unusual punishment.

Word by Word Definitions

cruelplay
  1. :  disposed to inflict pain or suffering :  devoid of humane feelings

    :  causing or conducive to injury, grief, or pain

    :  unrelieved by leniency

unusualplay
  1. :  not usual :  uncommon, rare

punishmentplay
  1. :  the act of punishing

    :  suffering, pain, or loss that serves as retribution

    :  a penalty inflicted on an offender through judicial procedure


Law Dictionary

cruel and unusual punishment

noun cruel and un·usu·al punishment

Legal Definition of cruel and unusual punishment

  1. :  punishment that is offensive to the contemporary morality or jurisprudence (as by being degrading, inflicting unnecessary and intentional pain, or being disproportionate to the offense) nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted — U.S. Constitution amend. VIII — see also Gregg v. Georgia — compare corporal punishment, death penalty

Additional Notes on cruel and unusual punishment

A cruel and unusual punishment is essentially one that the courts consider to violate the Eighth Amendment based on a variety of criteria. The interpretation of what constitutes cruel and unusual punishment has changed over time and has varied from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Most forms of corporal punishment formerly used at common law have been found to be cruel and unusual punishments.


Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up cruel and unusual punishment? 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

to glide in or as if in an airplane

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

  • istock-refers-to-this-as-a-tumble-of-strawberries-which-sounded-pretty-nice-to-us
  • Which is a synonym of garner?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

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!