This is a discussion thread · 28 replies
Thanks in advance.
What is the difference between 'homicide' and 'murder'? Is there a difference in British and American usage with regard to this term?
A lawyer should really answer this. I'm not a lawyer, but here are a couple of comments.
homicide - Focuses on the killing of a human being, in the same way that 'fratricide' focuses on killing one's brother, 'suicide' on killing one's self, etc. Homicide is not necessarily a crime. If a police officer kills someone who shoots first at him, this is not illegal, not murder. 'Justifiable homicide' is the phrase I often hear.
murder - Focuses on the unlawful killing of a human being. Involves some degree of premeditation or intention (first degree and second degree murder, murder in cold blood or in hot blood). Careless, accidental killing is 'manslaughter' rather than 'murder'.
I look forward to a lawyer's more detailed explanation.
Best wishes, Clive
Thanks for the explanation. I agree with what you've said. What prompted me to ask this question is because my student asked me for the definition of 'homicide'. After explaining to him, I referred to his dictionary to make sure, and was surprised by what I read. It states that 'homicide' is AmE and 'murder' is BrE or maybe the other way round. I cannot remember which is which.
Clivehomicide - Focuses on the killing of a human being, in the same way that 'fratricide' focuses on killing one's brother, 'suicide' on killing one's self, etc. Homicide is not necessarily a crime. If a police officer kills someone who shoots first at him, this is not illegal, not murder. 'Justifiable homicide' is the phrase I often hear.Same usage here in the U.S.
Within homicide are sub-terms : murder [killing with malice - planned and intentional killing] and manslaughter [unlawful killing without malice or premeditation] or culpable homicide [used in Scotland - killing as the result of improper conduct].
Recent legislation has made changes to these definitions, but essentially you can say that homicide and murder are synonymous.
In the case of 'homicide', it will be a long prison term.
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