kangaroo court

noun

Definition of kangaroo court 

1 : a mock court in which the principles of law and justice are disregarded or perverted

2 : a court characterized by irresponsible, unauthorized, or irregular status or procedures

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Did You Know?

A kangaroo court has never been a court by or for kangaroos, but beyond that, little is known for sure about the term's origins. Various theories abound: it has been suggested that kangaroo courts got their name because they were initially marked by rapid and unpredictable movement from one place to another, or that they were in some way associated with "jumping" (i.e., illegally occupying) mining claims. These hypotheses are all unsubstantiated, however. What is known is that the first kangaroo courts originated in the United States at approximately the time of the 1849 California Gold Rush, and the word saw its earliest use in the southwestern U.S. It first turned up in print in 1853 in a book about Texas.

Examples of kangaroo court in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

The Red Goose apparently didn't fly often enough or with enough gusto to protect Williams from his propensity for writing bad checks to local eating establishments, whose complaints compounded his problems with the fraternity's kangaroo court. Greg Garrison, AL.com, "Southern playwright Tennessee Williams majored in journalism at Mizzou," 26 Mar. 2018 The kangaroo court fees would have been off the charts. Dan Wiederer, chicagotribune.com, "Kerry Wood and ‘the greatest game ever pitched’: The oral history of May 6, 1998 at Wrigley Field," 1 May 2018 Failure to participate would result in a $500 fine from the club’s kangaroo court, over which, of course, Beltrán presided. Ben Reiter, SI.com, "Why Carlos Beltrán Was the Perfect Addition to Aid the Astros' Journey to the World Series," 9 July 2018 Wochit The 1988 University of Kentucky baseball team had a kangaroo court. Jake Lourim, The Courier-Journal, "From a kangaroo court to Louisville athletics, Vince Tyra has always taken command," 27 Mar. 2018 The personal-conduct policy as a whole should be put into a giant drill that burrows into the Earth’s crust then left there for eternity; there is no place for a sports league’s kangaroo court in our nation’s criminal justice system. Gary Gramling, SI.com, "NFL Week 1: Why the NFL Is Better When Cam Newton Is Good, The Year of Eli, Sam Bradford Is Gonna Be So Rich! (Again!)," 10 Sep. 2017 Their defenses of campus kangaroo courts are rife with transparently bad statistics. David French, National Review, "Betsy DeVos’s Critics Rely on Junk Science and Sheer Malice," 8 Sep. 2017 Many conservative commentators, understandably alarmed by the Obama administration’s presumption of guilt and kangaroo courts, have overstressed this aspect of the campus rape problem. Mona Charen, National Review, "Do Conservatives Take Rape Seriously?," 15 Sep. 2017 DeVos detailed some of the most egregious injustices in her Thursday speech, while a recent article by the Atlantic’s Emily Yoffe details how universities’ Title IX hearings have become kangaroo courts. Mark Joseph Stern, Slate Magazine, "The secretary of education is right that colleges trample on the rights of accused sexual assailants.," 11 Sep. 2017

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

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First Known Use of kangaroo court

1841, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Last Updated

28 Sep 2018

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The first known use of kangaroo court was in 1841

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More Definitions for kangaroo court

kangaroo court

noun

English Language Learners Definition of kangaroo court

: a court that uses unfair methods or is not a proper court of law

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