Legal Dictionary


Legal Definition of minor


  1. A person who is legally underage. It varies between 21 and 18 years of age. Each state sets an age threshold at which time a person is invested with all legal rights as an adult. For many new adults, this may mean access to places serving alcohol and the right to purchase and consume alcohol, smoke cigarettes and drive a car. But there are many other legal rights which a minor does not have such as, in some states, the right to own land, to sign a contract or to get married.

Related terms

Definition of minor


    From Latin minor


  1. IPA: /maɪnə/
    Audio (US) [?]
  2. Homophones: miner, mynah (non-rhotic accents)


minor (comparative more minor, superlative most minor)

  1. Of little significance or importance.

    The physical appearance of a candidate is a minor factor in recruitment.


minor (plural minors)

  1. A person who is below the legal age of responsibility or accountability.

    It is illegal to sell weapons to minors under the age of eighteen.


  1. (law): adult

Further reading

The term minor is used to refer to a person under a certain age - usually the age of majority - which legally demarcates childhood from adulthood; the age depends upon jurisdiction and application, but is typically 18. "Minor" may also be used in contexts not connected to the overall age of majority; for example, the drinking age is usually 21 and people below it are considered "minors" even if 18. The term underage refers to either of these (people below the age of majority or drinking age), as well as to age of consent and other age limits.

The concept of "minor" is not sharply defined in most jurisdictions. The ages of criminal responsibility and consent, the age at which attendance at school ceases to be obligatory, the age at which legally binding contracts can be entered into, and so on, may all be different.

In Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea, a minor is a person under 20 years of age. In New Zealand law, a minor is a person under 20 years of age as well, but most of the rights of adulthood are assumed at lower ages: for example, entering into contracts and having a will are legally possible at 15.

In many countries, including Australia, India, Philippines, Brazil, Croatia and Colombia, a minor is defined as a person under the age of 18. In the United States, where the age of majority is set by the individual states, minor usually refers to someone under the age of 18, but can be used in certain areas (such as gambling, gun ownership and the consuming of alcohol) to define someone under the age of 21. In the criminal justice system in some places, "minor" is not entirely consistent, as a minor may be tried and punished for a crime either as a juvenile or, usually only for "extremely serious crimes" such as murder, as an adult.


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


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