Mis`de*mean"or (?), n.
Ill behavior; evil conduct; fault.
A crime less than a felony.
⇒ As a rule, in the old English law, offenses capitally punishable were felonies; all other indictable offenses were misdemeanors. In common usage, the word crime is employed to denote the offenses of a deeper and more atrocious dye, while small faults and omissions of less consequence are comprised under the gentler name of misdemeanors.
The distinction, however, between felonies and misdemeanors is purely arbitrary, and is in most jurisdictions either abrogated or so far reduced as to be without practical value. Cf. Felony.
Syn. -- Misdeed; misconduct; misbehavior; fault; trespass; transgression.
© Webster 1913.