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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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 Bill’s hearing the next day is precisely the kangaroo court Ji-Yoon foretold. Amanda Whiting, Vulture, 22 Aug. 2021 That culture again includes accountability and the return of the kangaroo court fine system for mistakes in spring training. Los Angeles Times, 26 Feb. 2021 From the Metrodome to U.S. Bank Stadium, he's reported on everything from Case Keenum's Minneapolis Miracle, the offensive line's kangaroo court to Adrian Peterson's suspension. Andrew Krammer, Star Tribune, 11 Dec. 2020 From the Metrodome to U.S. Bank Stadium, he's reported on everything from Case Keenum's Minneapolis Miracle, the offensive line's kangaroo court to Adrian Peterson's suspension. Andrew Krammer, Star Tribune, 11 Dec. 2020 From the Metrodome to U.S. Bank Stadium, he's reported on everything from Case Keenum's Minneapolis Miracle, the offensive line's kangaroo court to Adrian Peterson's suspension. Andrew Krammer, Star Tribune, 11 Dec. 2020 From the Metrodome to U.S. Bank Stadium, he's reported on everything from Case Keenum's Minneapolis Miracle, the offensive line's kangaroo court to Adrian Peterson's suspension. Andrew Krammer, Star Tribune, 11 Dec. 2020 From the Metrodome to U.S. Bank Stadium, he's reported on everything from Case Keenum's Minneapolis Miracle, the offensive line's kangaroo court to Adrian Peterson's suspension. Andrew Krammer, Star Tribune, 11 Dec. 2020 From the Metrodome to U.S. Bank Stadium, he's reported on everything from Case Keenum's Minneapolis Miracle, the offensive line's kangaroo court to Adrian Peterson's suspension. Andrew Krammer, Star Tribune, 11 Dec. 2020

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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The first known use of kangaroo court was in 1841

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Last Updated

25 Aug 2021

Cite this Entry

“Kangaroo court.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/kangaroo%20court. Accessed 21 Oct. 2021.

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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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