unwritten constitution


Definition of unwritten constitution

: a constitution not embodied in a single document but based chiefly on custom and precedent as expressed in statutes and judicial decisions

Examples of unwritten constitution in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Britain’s unwritten constitution does not have a clear rule for what happens if a prime minister becomes incapacitated or dies. Danica Kirka, Anchorage Daily News, "British Prime Minister Boris Johnson moved to intensive care for treatment of COVID-19," 7 Apr. 2020 Britain's unwritten constitution does not have a clear rule for what happens if a prime minister becomes incapacitated or dies. Anchorage Daily News, "UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is receiving oxygen but isn’t on a ventilator, officials say," 7 Apr. 2020 But that criticism rests on a misunderstanding about the role of judges in the U.K.’s unwritten constitution. James Grant, Time, "What Boris Johnson's Defeat in the U.K. Supreme Court Means," 25 Sep. 2019 Intended to be adaptable and robust, Britain’s unwritten constitution was in danger of amplifying the chaos caused by Brexit, in a way that threatened the union itself. The Economist, "Not yet done 2019 in review: Britain’s turbulent times," 21 Dec. 2019 The Prorogue Gallery of Brexit Judges The legal challenge to the powers of the prime minister shows how the political infighting over Brexit has strained Britain’s largely unwritten constitution to its limits. Jonathan Browning, Bloomberg.com, "U.K. Court Calls Johnson’s Parliament Suspension ‘Unlawful’," 24 Sep. 2019 Under the country's unwritten constitution, Parliament, the government and the courts have defined roles in balancing out the others' decisions. Aimee Lewis, CNN, "The suspension of UK Parliament has been ruled unlawful. Here's what happens next," 24 Sep. 2019 That drew a burst of anger from across the political spectrum, with critics accusing Johnson of usurping lawmakers’ powers and undermining Britain’s unwritten constitution. Laura King, Los Angeles Times, "U.K. Parliament defies Boris Johnson and sets vote to block no-deal Brexit," 3 Sep. 2019 The government countered that, under Britain’s largely unwritten constitution, the suspension was a matter for politicians, not the courts. Washington Post, "High drama at UK Supreme Court in Brexit challenge case," 17 Sep. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'unwritten constitution.' 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 unwritten constitution

1890, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of unwritten constitution was in 1890

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Cite this Entry

“Unwritten constitution.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/unwritten%20constitution. Accessed 11 Aug. 2020.

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