Legal Dictionary


Legal Definition of parricide


  1. Killing one's father or another a family member or close relation

Related terms

Definition of parricide


    From Middle French parricide, from Latin parricida, of uncertain origin.


  • (UK) IPA: /ˈpaɹɪsʌɪd/


parricide (plural parricides)

  1. Someone who kills a relative, especially a parent.
  2. The killing of a relative, especially a parent.
  3. The killing of a ruler, or other authority figure; treason.

Further reading

Parricide (Latin: parricida, killer of parents or another close relative) is defined as:

  • the act of murdering one's father (patricide), mother (matricide) or other close relative, but usually not children (infanticide).
  • the act of murdering a person (such as the ruler of one's country) who stands in a relationship resembling that of a father
  • a person who commits such an act

Various definitions exist for the term parricide, with the biggest discrepancy being whether or not the killing has to be defined as a murder (usually killing with malice aforethought) to qualify as a parricide.

Parricide is most often committed by a son against his father, and is associated with delusional thinking.

A review of parricide cases that include factors other than delusional thinking such as a history of sexual abuse or fraud committed by the son against the family has been published in the forensic literature. The Perri, Lichtenwald and MacKenzie article provides suggestions for parents, social workers; counselors and psychologists who are attempting to mediate in a family whose dynamics are similar to murder cases in which fraud against the family predated the parricide.

In pre-revolutionary France, cases of unintentional killings were still treated as parricides, with the accidental offenders facing the same harsh penalties intended for deliberate perpetrators of the crime.

Ancient Rome had a unique punishment for parricide. The felon was severely scourged then sewn into a stout leather bag with a dog, a snake, a rooster, and a monkey, and the bag was thrown into the river Tiber. Tacitus called it the "parricide's doom". Plutarch records that the old laws of Romulus had no penalty for parricide because it was considered a crime too evil ever to be committed.


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


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