parens patriae

noun
par·​ens pat·​ri·​ae | \ ˈpar-ənz-ˈpa-trē-ˌē, -ˈpā-, -trē-ˌī; ˈpär-ens-ˈpä-trē-ˌī \

Legal Definition of parens patriae

: the state in its capacity as the legal guardian of persons not sui juris and without natural guardians, as the heir to persons without natural heirs, and as the protector of all citizens unable to protect themselves because the State is supposed to proceed in respect of the child as parens patriae and not as adversaryKent v. United States, 383 U.S. 541 (1966)

History and Etymology for parens patriae

Latin, parent of the country

Learn More About parens patriae

Dictionary Entries Near parens patriae

pardon

parens patriae

parent

See More Nearby Entries 

Cite this Entry

“Parens patriae.” Merriam-Webster.com Legal Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/legal/parens%20patriae. Accessed 30 Jun. 2022.

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

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Great Words for Scrabble

  • scrabble tiles that read scrabble quiz
  • Which of the following Q-without-U words means the number five in cards or dice?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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