Legal Dictionary


Legal Definition of homicide


  1. The word includes all occasions where one human being, by act or omission, takes away the life of another. Murder and manslaughter are different kinds of homicides. Executing a death-row inmate is another form of homicide, but one which is excusable in the eyes of the law. Another excusable homicide is where a law enforcement officer shoots and kills a suspect who draws a weapon or shoots at that officer.

Related terms

Definition of homicide


    From Latin homicīda ("man-slayer") and homicīdium ("manslaughter").


  • (UK) IPA: /ˈhɒmɪsaɪd/, SAMPA: /"hQmIsaId/
  • (UK) enPR: h�mʹə-sīd, IPA: /ˈhɑməsaɪd/, SAMPA: /"hAm@saId/ or enPR: hōʹmə-sīd, IPA: /ˈhoʊməsaɪd/, SAMPA: /"hoUm@saId/


homicide (plural homicides)

  1. (uncountable) The killing of one person by another, whether premeditated or unintentional.
  2. (countable) A person who kills another.
  3. (countable, US, police jargon) A victim of homicide; a person who has been unlawfully killed by someone else.


  • (unlawful killing of a person by another): assassination, killing, first-degree murder (US; intentional), manslaughter (unintentional), murder (intentional), second-degree murder (US; unintentional)
  • (person who unlawfully kills another person): assassin, killer, man-slayer, murderer
  • (victim of homicide): murder victim

Derived terms

  • homicidal

Further reading

Homicide (Latin homicidium, homo human being + caedere to cut, kill) refers to the act of a human killing a human being.[1] A common form of homicide, for example, would be murder. It can also describe a person who has committed such an act, though this use is rare in modern English. Homicide is not always an illegal act, so although "homicide" is often used as a synonym for "murder," this is not formally correct.

Non-criminal homicide

Homicides do not always involve a crime. Sometimes the law allows homicide by allowing certain defenses to criminal charges. One of the most recognized is self defense, which provides that a person is entitled to commit homicide to protect his or her own life from a deadly attack.

Some defenses include:

  • Right of self-defense and defence of others
  • Insanity defense�There are several tests to check insanity
    • M'Naghten Rules
    • Insane delusion
    • Irresistible impulse test
    • Substantial capacity test
    • Durham rule
    • Diminished capacity test
  • Duress
  • Defence of property
  • Prevention of a crime
  • Privilege of public authority�A person who has public authority to commit an act is not criminally liable.
  • Entrapment�The defense of entrapment exists when a law enforcement officer (or an agent of an officer) solicits, induces, or encourages another to commit a crime which they otherwise would not have committed.
  • Mistake of fact�The defense of Mistake of Fact asserts that a mistake of fact will disprove a criminal charge if it is honestly entertained, based upon reasonable grounds and is of such a nature that the conduct would have been lawful had the facts been as they were supposed to be.
  • Mistake of law�Not a valid defense to crime except in rare instances where it negates an essential element of the crime. Therefore the old saying "ignorance of law is no excuse" is appropriate as a general rule.
  • Unconsciousness�The defense of Unconsciousness holds that one who is unconscious, for instance, someone walking in their sleep, does not have the capacity to commit a crime.


  1. Wiktionary. Published under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.


1.     warrant
2.     tampering
3.     emtio
4.     amnesty law
5.     magistrates court
6.     lex fori
7.     landed property
8.     lex situs
9.     lex causae
10.     ownership