1. a statute prescribing the time period during which legal action can be taken
The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:
Statute \Stat"ute\ (-[-u]t), n. [F. statut, LL. statutum, from
L. statutus, p. p. of statuere to set, station, ordain, fr.
status position, station, fr. stare, statum, to stand. See
Stand, and cf. Constitute, Destitute.]
1. An act of the legislature of a state or country,
declaring, commanding, or prohibiting something; a
positive law; the written will of the legislature
expressed with all the requisite forms of legislation; --
used in distinction from common law. See Common law,
under Common, a. --Bouvier.
Note: Statute is commonly applied to the acts of a
legislative body consisting of representatives. In
monarchies, the laws of the sovereign are called
edicts, decrees, ordinances, rescripts, etc. In works
on international law and in the Roman law, the term is
used as embracing all laws imposed by competent
authority. Statutes in this sense are divided into
statutes real, statutes personal, and statutes mixed;
statutes real applying to immovables; statutes personal
to movables; and statutes mixed to both classes of
2. An act of a corporation or of its founder, intended as a
permanent rule or law; as, the statutes of a university.
3. An assemblage of farming servants (held possibly by
statute) for the purpose of being hired; -- called also
statute fair. [Eng.] Cf. 3d Mop, 2. --Halliwell.
Statute book, a record of laws or legislative acts.
Statute cap, a kind of woolen cap; -- so called because
enjoined to be worn by a statute, dated in 1571, in behalf
of the trade of cappers. [Obs.] --Halliwell.
Statute fair. See Statute, n., 3, above.
Statute labor, a definite amount of labor required for the
public service in making roads, bridges, etc., as in
certain English colonies.
Statute merchant (Eng. Law), a bond of record pursuant to
the stat. 13 Edw. I., acknowledged in form prescribed, on
which, if not paid at the day, an execution might be
awarded against the body, lands, and goods of the debtor,
and the obligee might hold the lands until out of the
rents and profits of them the debt was satisfied; --
called also a pocket judgment. It is now fallen into
disuse. --Tomlins. --Bouvier.
Statute mile. See under Mile.
Statute of limitations (Law), a statute assigning a certain
time, after which rights can not be enforced by action.
Statute staple, a bond of record acknowledged before the
mayor of the staple, by virtue of which the creditor may,
on nonpayment, forthwith have execution against the body,
lands, and goods of the debtor, as in the statute
merchant. It is now disused. --Blackstone.
Syn: Act; regulation; edict; decree. See Law.
WordNet (r) 3.0 (2006):
statute of limitations
n 1: a statute prescribing the time period during which legal
action can be taken