Definition of compurgation in English:


See synonyms for compurgation on


historical Law
  • Acquittal from a charge or accusation obtained by statements of innocence given by witnesses under oath.

    ‘Kichynman claimed he had already cleared himself of this charge through compurgation.’
    • ‘The Anglo-Saxon preference for compurgation, as proof of guilt or innocence, persisted and only gradually gave way to trial by jury.’
    • ‘In the absence of positive evidence of guilt, and sometimes despite of it, the accused was bound to clear himself by compurgation or by the ordeal.’
    • ‘The early methods of trial were compurgation or trial by ordeal or wager of law.’
    • ‘Each party had to state his case under oath, and doubts as to the guilt or innocence of the accused person were resolved by either compurgation or ordeal.’



/ˌkämpərˈɡāSHən/ /ˌkɑmpərˈɡeɪʃən/


Mid 17th century from medieval Latin compurgatio(n-), from Latin compurgare, from com- (expressing intensive force) + purgare ‘purify’ (from purus ‘pure’).