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Alternative forms[edit]


From out- +‎ fang +‎ thief, formed—probably in Middle English [Term?]—after the model of infangthief, with the only Old English [Term?] attestation a spurious charter forged in the 1st half of the 12th century.[1]



outfangthief (uncountable)

  1. (historical, law, properly, rare) A privilege of some feudal lords permitting them to execute summary judgment upon thieves (particularly their own tenants) captured outside their estates and to keep any chattels forfeited upon conviction.
    • 1822, John Comyns & Anthony Hammond, A Digest of the Laws of England, Butterworth & Son, p. 328:
      A grant of outfangthief imports the trial of those of his fee taken for felony in another precinct.
    • 1990, David Maxwell Walker, A Legal History of Scotland, Vol. II, p. 640:
      The addition of outfangandthef is much less usual [than infangthief]; it seems to have meant the right to try a man of the barony taken stealing outside the barony, if necessary repledging him to the barony court.
  2. (historical, law, generally, rare) A privilege of some feudal lords permitting them to execute summary judgment upon all thieves captured within their estates, regardless of their origin.
    • 1845, John Henry Newman, Lives of the English Saints, ST Freemantle, p. 19:
      But feudalism also contained another principle, and that was, that within his own territory each lord was absolute; his suzerain could not interfere with his jurisdiction; infangthief and outfangthief implied a very perfect and intelligible power of hanging and imprisoning as he pleased.
  3. (historical, law, rare) A thief so captured and tried.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Oxford English Dictionary, 3rd ed. "outfangthief, n." Oxford University Press (Oxford), 2004.