N: 1. “unlawful killing of another human being by a person of sound mind with premeditated malice,” c. 1300, murdre, earlier morþer, from Old English morðor (plural morþras) “secret killing of a person, unlawful killing,” also “mortal sin, crime; punishment, torment, misery,” from Proto-Germanic *murthran (source also of Goth maurþr, and, from a variant form of the same root, Old Saxon morth, Old Frisian morth, Old Norse morð, Middle Dutch moort, Dutch moord, German Mord “murder”), from suffixed form of PIE root *mer- “to rub away, harm” (also “to die” and forming words referring to death and to beings subject to death).
The spelling with -d- probably reflects influence of Anglo-French murdre, from Old French mordre, from Medieval Latin murdrum, which is from the Germanic word. A parallel form murther persisted into 19c.
In Old Norse, custom distinguished morð “secret slaughter” from vig “slaying.” The former involved concealment, or slaying a man by night or when asleep, and was a heinous crime. The latter was not a disgrace, if the killer acknowledged his deed, but he was subject to vengeance or demand for compensation.
Weakened sense of “very unpleasant situation” is from 1878. Inverted slang sense of “something excellent or terrific” is by 1940. As the name of a parlor or children’s game, by 1933.
2. The crime of unlawfully killing a person especially with malice aforethought.
3. What’s the difference between “homicide”, “murder” and “manslaughter”?
- Homicide is simply the killing of one person by another. It may or may not be illegal. Soldiers in battle commit homicide without committing a crime. Citizens kill intruders without committing a crime. So, what is it that separates a legal homicide from an illegal murder? And, what makes one killing a murder and another a manslaughter?
- Murder is a homicide committed with “malice aforethought.” That doesn’t mean it is a malicious killing. Malice aforethought is the common law way of saying that it is an unjustified killing. And, for a killing to be a murder, there typically has to be either an intent to kill, or, at minimum, conduct so reckless that it is punishable as murder. Murder usually is broken down into degrees. First degree murder punishes premeditated killings, the killing of especially vulnerable people (such as children), and unintended killings done while intentionally committing another serious felony. This last kind of first degree murder is called felony murder.
- Manslaughter is typically treated as a much less severe crime than murder. Manslaughter can be broken up into degrees, or categorized as voluntary and involuntary manslaughter. Voluntary manslaughter is the killing of another person under extreme provocation or while under the heat of passion. Typically, it does not require an intent to kill, but rather than the intent to do something else. Felony manslaughter occurs when a person participates in a crime that isn’t listed in the felony murder statute (which usually includes the most dangerous kinds of felonies), but somehow someone dies during the crime. Involuntary manslaughter usually involves acts of negligence or recklessness that lead to another person’s death. Vehicular homicide or vehicular manslaughter – causing a person’s death through driving while intoxicated – can be charged on its own or as part of involuntary manslaughter, depending on the laws of a particular state.
4. What about the term “assassination”?
- Assassination is a killing of a prominent person for political or ideological reasons. Assassination dates back to the earliest forms of government, with the killing of Philip II of Macedon, the father of Alexander the Great. Some of the more recent well-known assassinations include those of Abraham Lincoln, President John F. Kennedy, and Martin Luther King.
- There are various motivations for assassinations, including money, moral issues, political power, military purposes, and others. In the 20th century, the prevalence of assassins and their capabilities skyrocketed, and security measures such as armored cars or armored limousines and bulletproof vests came into popular use.
– As a noun:
- Adj. brutal, horrific, terrible, vicious; cold-blooded, premeditated, wilful (law) a verdict of wilful murder; attempted; double, mass, multiple; terrorist; racial, sectarian; unsolved.
- Verb + murder: commit; jail sb for; avenge; witness; implicate sb in; get away with (figurative).
- Murder + verb: take place.
- Murder + noun: victim; suspect; hunt (informal), inquiry, investigation; bid, plot; conviction; scene; mystery, story.
– As a verb:
- Adv. barbarously, brutally, foully, in cold blood; ritually; allegedly.
- Verb + murder: attempt to, try to; plan to, plot to.
- Phrases: admit/deny murdering sb, be accused of murdering sb, be charged with murdering sb; be convicted/found guilty of murdering sb, be found murdered.
6. Cultural Interrelation: We can mention one short story The Murders in the Rue Morgue (1841) written by Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) and two novels The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (1926) and Murder on the Orient Express (1934) written by Agatha Christie (1891-1976).
S: 1. OED – https://www.etymonline.com/search?q=murder (last access: 4 August 2019). 2. MW – https://bit.ly/2fLvwDJ (last access: 4 August 2019). 3. Murphy – https://bit.ly/2SMrYza (last access: 4 August 2019). 4. US Legal – https://bit.ly/2yBfe6l (last access: 4 August 2019). 5. OCD – https://bit.ly/2LYi91P (last access: 5 August 2019). 6. The Guardian – https://bit.ly/2e0Nhbg (last access: 5 August 2019).