unclean hands

noun plural
un·​clean hands

Legal Definition of unclean hands

: an equitable doctrine: a complainant will be denied relief if he or she has engaged in misconduct (as acting in bad faith) directly relating to the complaint also : the condition of having engaged in such misconduct and being barred from equitable relief may not be invoked by a plaintiff with unclean handsRoyal Sch. Labs., Inc. v. Town of Watertown, 358 F.2d 813 (1966)

Note: Unclean hands on the part of the plaintiff is often pleaded as an affirmative defense by the defendant.

Learn More about unclean hands

Cite this Entry

“Unclean hands.” Merriam-Webster.com Legal Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/legal/unclean%20hands. Accessed 27 Sep. 2020.

Comments on unclean hands

What made you want to look up unclean hands? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Challenging Vocabulary Quiz Returns!

  • stylized drawing of woman pole vaulting across gap to get trophy
  • Which is a synonym of fuliginous?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

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!