• (noun): A fugitive from the law.
  • (noun): A habitual criminal.
  • (noun): A rebel; a nonconformist: a social outlaw.
  • (noun): A person excluded from normal legal protection and rights.
  • (noun): A wild or vicious horse or other animal.
  • (verb-transitive): To declare illegal: outlawed the sale of firearms.
  • (verb-transitive): To place under a ban; prohibit: outlawed smoking in the house.
  • (verb-transitive): To deprive (one declared to be a criminal fugitive) of the protection of the law.

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Wordnet definitions

  • (noun): someone who has committed a crime or has been legally convicted of a crime
  • (adjective): disobedient to or defiant of law; "lawless bands roaming the plains"
  • (adjective): contrary to or forbidden by law; "an illegitimate seizure of power"; "illicit trade"; "an outlaw strike"; "unlawful measures"
  • (verb): declare illegal; outlaw; "Marijuana is criminalized in the U.S."

Look up "outlaw" to find its meanings and associations with other words and concepts


In historical legal systems, an outlaw is declared as outside the protection of the law. In pre-modern societies, the criminal is withdrawn all legal protection, so that anyone is legally empowered to persecute or kill them. Outlawry was thus one of the harshest penalties in the legal system. In early Germanic law, the death penalty is conspicuously absent, and outlawing is the most extreme punishment, presumably amounting to a death sentence in practice. The concept is known from Roman law, as the status of homo sacer, and persisted throughout the Middle Ages.
In the common law of England, a \"Writ of Outlawry\" made the pronouncement Caput lupinum (\"Let his be a wolf's head\", literally \"May he bear a wolfish head\") with respect to its subject, using \"head\" to refer to the entire person (cf. \"per capita\") and equating that person with a wolf (warg) in the eyes of the law: not only was the subject deprived of all legal rights of the law being outside the \"law\", but others could kill him on sight as if he were a wolf or other wild animal. Women were declared \"waived\" rather than outlawed but it was effectively the same punishment.

Example Sentences

  • "we outlaw a member of our own society and belonging to our own country; but to _outlaw_ the chiefs of another country is something too absurd; I fear the English language is not much studied at the Cape."

  • Dorothy Provine, 75, an actress who played the title outlaw in the film "The Bonnie Parker Story" and was the high-kicking flapper in the 1960s TV series "The Roaring 20's," died April 25 at a hospice near her home in Bremerton, Wash.

  • Dorothy Provine, a stunningly beautiful actress who starred as the title outlaw in "The Bonnie Parker Story" (1958) and then as a flapper showgirl in the short-lived TV drama "The Roaring Twenties," died April 25.

  • Raging street battles began Tuesday in Basra after the government led a crackdown on what it calls outlaw or rogue militants.

  • Mr. Bush will not say Iraq had a role in organizing 9/11, but he will say the gravest danger in the war on terror is what he calls outlaw regimes that seek and possess nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.

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