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 hands Royal 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.

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

readily or continually undergoing change

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Musical Words Quiz

  • gramophone
  • Which word describes a musical performance marked by the absence of instrumental accompaniment?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

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!