Statute of limitations

| Grammarist

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| Usage

A statute of limitations is a law that sets a time limit on legal cases.1 For example, if a state imposes a statute of limitations of one year on libel cases, then a person in that state can only be sued for libel if the court action is initiated within one year of the release of the allegedly libelous publication. There is more to statutes of limitation than this, but we’ll leave the legal intricacies to the lawyers.

Outside legal contexts, the term is often used figuratively to mean a time limit on when something can be used or referred to.

Statue of limitations is a common misspelling. It’s nonsensical but surprisingly common.


Without the expert testimony, Keenan couldn’t show why the six-year statute of limitations shouldn’t apply. [Minneapolis Star-Tribune]

For fellow journalists to try to invoke some kind of statute of limitations in bringing up embarrassing interviews from the past, just won’t wash. [Irish Times]


1. “Statute of limitations” in AHD

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