Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Acronyms, Idioms, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.


A violation, by one individual, of another individual's legal rights.

The idea of rights suggests the opposite idea of wrongs, for every right is capable of being violated. For example, a right to receive payment for goods sold implies a wrong on the part of the person who owes, but does not make payment. In the most general point of view, the law is intended to establish and maintain rights, yet in its everyday application, the law must deal with rights and wrongs. The law first fixes the character and definition of rights, and then seeks to secure these rights by defining wrongs and devising the means to prevent these wrongs or provide for their redress.

The Criminal Law is charged with preventing and punishing public wrongs. Public wrongs are violations of public rights and duties that affect the whole community.

A private wrong, also called a civil wrong, is a violation of public or private rights that injures an individual and consequently is subject to civil redress or compensation. A civil wrong that is not based on breach of contract is a tort. Torts include assault, Battery, libel, slander, intentional infliction of mental distress, and damage to property. The same act or omission that makes a tort may also be a breach of contract, but it is the Negligence, not the breaking of the contract, that is the tort. For example, if a lawyer is negligent in representing his client, the lawyer may be sued both for Malpractice, which is a tort, and for breach of the attorney-client contract.

The word wrongful is attached to numerous types of injurious conduct. For example, wrongful death is a type of lawsuit brought on behalf of a deceased person's beneficiaries that alleges that the death was attributable to the willful or negligent conduct of another. However, even in these special contexts, the words wrong, wrongful, and wrongfully do not sharply delineate the exact nature of the wrongness. Their presence merely signifies that something bad has occurred.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

WRONG. An injury; (q.v.) a tort (q.v.) a violation of right. In its most usual sense, wrong signifies an injury committed to the person or property of another, or to his relative rights, unconnected with contract; and these wrongs are committed with or without force. But in a more extended signification, wrong includes the violation of a contract; a failure by a man to perform his undertaking or promise is a wrong or injury to him to whom it was made. 3 Bl. Com. 158.
     2. Wrongs are divided into public and private. 1. A public wrong is an act which is injurious to the public generally, commonly known by the name of crime, misdemeanor, or offence, and it is punishable in various ways, such as indictments, summary proceedings, and upon conviction by death, imprisonment, fine, &c. 2. Private wrongs, which are injuries to individuals, unaffecting the public: these are redressed by actions for damages, &c.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
References in periodicals archive ?
So what went wrong? For starters, Wrong No 2 does a really bad job at convincing viewers that the characters it wants us to think are lead characters are anything more than peripheral figures.
Getting caught up in the right or wrong trap can cause lots of problems.
Enhanced numbers of Traffic Wardens have been deployed at busy roads to clear wrong parking while lifters will also be available to lift vehicles and motorcycles parked in a wrong way.
This autumn The Play That Goes Wrong has been playing simultaneously in 12 countries.
If I claim that Y will wrong X by setting him on fire I can (partially) explain this by appealing to the fact that setting X on fire will cause him to suffer excruciating pain and thereby make his life go much worse.
Eight "foreign objects" were also accidentally left inside patients after procedures, while one person received the wrong implant or prosthesis.
Wrong. We didn't spot the SNP tsunami until Scotland was almost submerged.
Wrong Goes Pan Peter Theatre Royal Following their recent smash hit sell-out success with The Play That Goes Wrong, the Mischief Theatre Company bring Peter Pan Goes Wrong - their hilarious new spin on a timeless favourite to the stage for a major UK tour.
Peter Pan Goes Wrong is at the Theatre Royal Newcastle from July 1 to 4 and is the brainchild of Mischief Theatre Company, which is enjoying great success in The Play That Goes Wrong in London's West End.
HUMAN error caused a council to send the wrong letter to 180,000 residents at a cost of PS50,000, it has admitted.
The common thought is that most students change their answers from right to wrong. This belief has been perpetuated by some faculty despite evidence to the contrary.