|the punishment of death for a crime; death penalty|
|the offspring of a zebra and a donkey.|
|a fool or simpleton; ninny.|
The death penalty for a crime.
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.