star-cham·​ber ˈstär-ˈchām-bər How to pronounce star-chamber (audio)
: characterized by secrecy and often being irresponsibly arbitrary and oppressive

Word History


Star Chamber, a court existing in England from the 15th century until 1641

First Known Use

1779, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of star-chamber was in 1779


Dictionary Entries Near star-chamber

Cite this Entry

“Star-chamber.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Feb. 2024.

Legal Definition

star chamber

capitalized S&C : an old English court abolished in 1641 that exercised wide civil and criminal jurisdiction under rules of procedure suited to the prerogatives of the king and that was marked by secrecy, the absence of juries, self-incrimination, and an inquisitorial as opposed to accusatorial system of justice
: a tribunal or proceeding resembling the Star Chamber especially in being secretive or arbitrary
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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