Big"a*my (?), n. [OE. bigamie, fr. L. bigamus twice married; bis twice + Gr. marriage; prob. akin to Skt. jamis related, and L. gemini twins, the root meaning to bind, join: cf. F. bigamie. Cf. Digamy.] Law

The offense of marrying one person when already legally married to another.


⇒ It is not strictly correct to call this offense bigamy: it more properly denominated polygamy, i. e., having a plurality of wives or husbands at once, and in several statutes in the United States the offense is classed under the head of polygamy.

In the canon law bigamy was the marrying of two virgins successively, or one after the death of the other, or once marrying a widow. This disqualified a man for orders, and for holding ecclesiastical offices. Shakespeare uses the word in the latter sense.

Blackstone. Bouvier.

Base declension and loathed bigamy. Shak.


© Webster 1913.

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