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also misdemeanour, "legal class of indictable offenses," late 15c.; from mis- (1) "wrong" + Middle English demenure (see demeanor). Related: Misdemeanors; misdemeanours.
A minor crime, punishable by a fine or a light jail term. Common misdemeanors, such as traffic violations, are usually dealt with informally, without a trial. (Compare felony.)