capital punishment

capital punishment

noun
punishment by death for a crime; death penalty.

Origin:
1575–85

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World English Dictionary
capital punishment
 
n
the punishment of death for a crime; death penalty

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Cultural Dictionary

capital punishment definition


The death penalty for a crime.

capital punishment definition


The infliction of the death penalty as punishment for certain crimes. (See capital offense.)

Note: In the United States, capital punishment has been an extremely controversial issue on legal, moral, and ethical grounds. In 1972, the Supreme Court ruled that the death penalty was not, in principle, cruel and unusual punishment (and not, therefore, unconstitutional), but that its implementation through existing state laws was unconstitutional. In 1976, the Supreme Court again ruled that the death penalty was not unconstitutional, though a mandatory death penalty for any crime was. Thirty-nine states now practice the death penalty.
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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