mens rea

\ ˈmenz-ˈrē-ə How to pronounce mens rea (audio) , -ˈrā-ə \

Definition of mens rea

: criminal intent

Examples of mens rea in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Conservative jurisprudence tends to favor mens rea requirements for businesspeople charged with crimes. Maia Szalavitz, Scientific American, 25 Feb. 2022 In the law, this is the highest mens rea proof requirement. Andrew C. Mccarthy, National Review, 18 Aug. 2020 ANONYMOUS Wrongdoing generally requires two elements: a guilty act, actus reus, and a guilty mind, mens rea. Philip Galanes, New York Times, 19 Apr. 2018 Most significantly, the government contends that Lee had the necessary mens rea — the criminal-intent element — to commit the felony retention offense. Andrew C. Mccarthy, National Review, 17 Jan. 2018 Reimer said when asked about concerns that mens rea reform would help companies evade regulatory charges. Matt Ford, The Atlantic, 26 Oct. 2017 This time mens rea reform proponents have gone out of their way to enlist the support of left-leaning criminal-defense attorneys. Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, 26 Oct. 2017 The office of Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy, another Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, said any mens rea reform would need to be narrowly tailored, not comprehensive and retroactive. Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, 26 Oct. 2017 See More

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

First Known Use of mens rea

1861, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for mens rea

New Latin, literally, guilty mind

Learn More About mens rea

Time Traveler for mens rea

Time Traveler

The first known use of mens rea was in 1861

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near mens rea


mens rea

mens sana in corpore sano

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for mens rea

Cite this Entry

“Mens rea.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Jul. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for mens rea

mens rea

\ ˈmenz-ˈrē-ə, -ˈrā- How to pronounce mens rea (audio) \
plural mentes reae\ ˈmen-​ˌtēz-​ˈrē-​ˌē, ˈmen-​ˌtās-​ˈrā-​ˌī \

Legal Definition of mens rea

: a culpable mental state especially : one involving intent or knowledge and forming an element of a criminal offense murder contains a mens rea element — compare actus reus

History and Etymology for mens rea

New Latin, literally, guilty mind

More from Merriam-Webster on mens rea Encyclopedia article about mens rea


Test Your Vocabulary

Which Word Does Not Belong?

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!