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Star Chamber

noun
1.
a former court of inquisitorial and criminal jurisdiction in England that sat without a jury and that became noted for its arbitrary methods and severe punishments, abolished 1641.
2.
any tribunal, committee, or the like, which proceeds by arbitrary or unfair methods.
Origin
1350-1400
1350-1400; Middle English
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for Star Chamber

Star Chamber

noun
1.
(English history) the Privy Council sitting as a court of equity, esp powerful under the Tudor monarchs; abolished 1641
2.
(sometimes not capitals) any arbitrary tribunal dispensing summary justice
3.
(sometimes not capitals) (in Britain, in a Conservative government) a group of senior ministers who make the final decision on the public spending of each government department
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for Star Chamber
n.

late 14c., apartment in the royal palace at Westminster in which members of the king's council sat to exercise jurisdiction 14-15c., it evolved 15c. into a court of criminal jurisdiction, proverbial under James I and Charles I for arbitrary and oppressive proceedings. Abolished 1641. Supposedly so called because gilt stars were painted on the ceiling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Star Chamber in Culture

Star Chamber definition


A royal court that began in England in the Middle Ages; cases were heard there without juries. Under the early Stuart kings, it was known for its tyrannical judgments. The name came from the courtroom's ceiling, which was painted with stars.

Note: Star Chamber is used as a general descriptive term for arbitrary tactics by a judge.
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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4
4
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