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parens patriae Syllabification: pa·rens pa·tri·ae
Pronunciation: /ˈparənz ˈpatri-ē/ /ˈpatri-ī/

Definition of parens patriae in English:


1The government, or any other authority, regarded as the legal protector of citizens unable to protect themselves.
Example sentences
  • That is the other aspect of it, your Honour, that the parens patriae jurisdiction, of course, was confined to citizens or non-aliens, if one likes.
  • In Western Australia the Supreme Court could always exercise the parens patriae jurisdiction subject to any statutes dealing with children on the grounds of nationality and ordinary residence.
  • We have now reached a position where the court is prepared in an appropriate case to fill much of the lacuna left by the disappearance of the parens patriae jurisdiction by granting something approaching an advisory declaration.
1.1The principle that political authority carries with it the responsibility for protection of citizens.
Example sentences
  • In the Gault case, the Court further weakened the principle of parens patriae when it found that the juvenile court in Arizona had violated fifteen-year-old old Gerald Gault's Fourteenth Amendment right to due process.
  • Under the doctrine of parens patriae, Pennsylvania, through its juvenile court system, administers rehabilitative rather than punitive measures to children adjudicated delinquent.
  • Under the doctrine of parens patriae, or ‘the state as parent,’ juvenile court judges had wide latitude to address everything from robbery and assault to truancy and playing ball in the street.


Modern Latin, literally 'parent of the country'.

Definition of parens patriae in:

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