c. 1600, in law, "not capable, mentally, of managing one's own affairs," Latin, "not master of one's mind," from non "not" + compos "having power" (from com- "together" + potis "powerful") + mentis "of the mind," genitive of mens "mind."
in law, formal notice to a plaintiff that the prosecutor will not continue a suit, Latin, literally "to be unwilling to pursue." The derived verb nolle-pross "to abandon (a prosecution, etc.) by nolle prosequi" is attested from 1880. Latin nolle "be unwilling" is from ne "not" + velle "will."
signed into law Oct. 26, 2001; a contrived acronym for the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001.
Latin, literally "I do not wish to contend." Latin nolo is first person singular present indicative of nolle "be unwilling." In criminal law, a plea by the defendant that admits no guilt but subjects the defendant to judgment. In effect, a guilty plea, but it allows the pleader to deny the truth of the charges in a collateral proceeding.
"occasion on which entertainment or profit is derived from injury or death of another," 1860, originally in reference to holidays for gladiatorial combat; the expression seems to be entirely traceable to an oft-quoted passage on a dying barbarian gladiator from the fourth canto (1818) of Byron's "Childe Harold's Pilgrimage":
But where his rude hut by the Danube lay
There were his young barbarians all at play,
There was their Dacian mother. He, their sire,
Butcher'd to make a Roman holiday!
"a right, a legal claim to one's due," mid-15c., from Old French droit, dreit "right," from Medieval Latin directum (contracted drictum) "right, justice, law," neuter or accusative of Latin directus "straight," past participle of dirigere "set straight" (see direct (v.)).
Droit du seigneur (1825)), from French (1784), was the alleged medieval custom giving a feudal lord the right to have sex with the bride of his vassal on their wedding night before she went to her husband; literally "the lord's right." There is little evidence that it actually existed; it seems to have been invented in imagination 16c. or 17c. The Latin form was jus primae noctis, "law of the first night." For French droit, see right (adj.2).
proverbial for "something extremely rare or non-existent" (late 14c.) is from Juvenal ["Sat." vi. 164], but the real thing turned up in Australia (Chenopsis atratus).
"Do you say no worthy wife is to be found among all these crowds?" Well, let her be handsome, charming, rich and fertile; let her have ancient ancestors ranged about her halls; let her be more chaste than all the dishevelled Sabine maidens who stopped the war—a prodigy as rare upon the earth as a black swan! yet who could endure a wife that possessed all perfections? I would rather have a Venusian wench for my wife than you, O Cornelia, mother of the Gracchi, if, with all your virtues, you bring me a haughty brow, and reckon up Triumphs as part of your marriage portion. [Juvenal]
Blue dahlia also was used 19c. for "something rare and unheard of."
1832, Latin, literally "body of the offense;" not "the murder victim's body," but the basic elements that make up a crime, which in the case of a murder includes the body of the victim. For first element, see corpus. With delictum "a fault, offense, crime, transgression," etymologically "a falling short" of the standard of law, neuter singular of past participle of delinquere "to fail; be wanting, fall short; offend" (see delinquent).
Thus, a man who is proved to have clandestinely buried a dead body, no matter how suspicious the circumstances, cannot thereby be convicted of murder, without proof of the corpus delicti--that is, the fact that death was feloniously produced by him. [Century Dictionary]