: knowledge of the nature of one's act or omission or of the nature of something in one's possession that is often a necessary element of an offense
the scienter element constitutionally required for an obscenity statuteWall Dist. v. Newport News, 323 S.E.2d 75 (1984)
also : intent to engage in particular especially criminal conduct
a few environmental statutes…do away altogether with the need to prove scienter…requiring no proof of criminal intent whatsoever R. J. Kafin et al.
: a mental state in fraud (as securities fraud) that is characterized by an intent to deceive, manipulate, or defraud

Word History


Latin, knowingly, from scient- sciens, present participle of scire to know

Dictionary Entries Near scienter

Cite this Entry

“Scienter.” Legal Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Feb. 2024.

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