Peace “Legally” Defined

The following definitions for “peace” are taken from Ballantine’s Law Dictionary (3rd edition), Bouvier’s Law Dictionary (6th edition), Black’s Law Dictionary (2nd edition), and Webster’s Dictionary (1828):




The tranquility enjoyed by members of a community where good order reigns [12 Am J2d Breach P § 4]. That invisible sense of security which every person feels so necessary to his comfort, and for which all governments are instituted [Miles v. State, 30 Okla Crim 302, 236 P 57, 44 ALR 129]. The termination of a war, of hostilities between nations [56 Am J1st War §13].

See time of peace.



The tranquility enjoyed by a political society, internally, by the good order which reigns among its members, and externally, by the good understanding it has with all other nations. Applied to the internal regulations of a nation, peace imports, in a technical sense, not merely a state of repose and security, as opposed to one of violence and warfare, but likewise a state of public order and decorum [Ham. N. P. 139; 12 Mod. 566. Vide, generally, Bac. Ab. Prerogative, D 4; Hale, Hist. P. C. 160; 3 taunt. R. 14; 1 B. & A. 227; Peake, R. 89; 1 Esp. R. 294; Harr. Dig. Officer, V 4; 2 Benth. Ev. 319, note. Video Good behaviour; Surety of the peace].



As applied to the affairs of a state or nation peace may be either external or internal. In the former case, the term denotes the prevalence of amicable relations and mutual good will between the particular society and all foreign powers. In the latter case, it means the tranquility, security, and freedom from commotion or disturbance which is the sign of good order and harmony and obedience to the laws among all the members of the society. In a somewhat technical sense, peace denotes the quiet, security, good order, and decorum which is guarantied by the constitution of civil society and by the laws [People v. Rounds, 67 Mich. 482, 35 N. W. 77; Corvallis v. Carlile, 10 Or. 139, 45 Am. Rep. 134].

The concord or final agreement in a fine of lands [18 Edw. I. “Modus Levandi Finis.”

  • Articles of the peace: see ARTICLES

  • Bill of peace: see BILL

  • Breach of peace: see BREACH

  • Conservator of the peace: see CONSERVATOR

  • Justice of the peace: see that title

  • Peace of God and the church: in old English law, that rest and cessation which the king’s subjects had from trouble and suit of law between the terms and on Sundays and holidays [Cowell; Spelman].

  • Peace of the state: the protection, security, and immunity from violence which the state undertakes to secure and extend to all persons within its jurisdiction and entitled to the benefit of its laws. This part of the definition of murder, it being necessary that the victim should be “in the peace of the state,” which now practically includes all persons excepts armed public enemies [see MURDER, and see State v. Dunkley, 25 N. C. 121].

  • Peace officers: this term is variously defined by statute in the different states; but generally it includes sheriffs and their deputies, constables, marshals, members of the police force of cities, and other officers whose duty is to enforce and preserve the public peace [see People v. Clinton, 28 App. Div. 478, 51 N. Y. Supp. 115; Jones v. State (Tex. Cr. App.) 65 S. W. 92].

  • Public peace: the peace or tranquility of the community in general; the good order and repose of the people composing a state or municipality [see Neuendorff v. Duryea, 6 Daly (N. Y.) 280; State v. Benedict, 11 Vt. 236, 34 Am. Dec. 688].



PEACE, n. [L. pax, paco, to appease].

  1. In a general sense, a state of quiet or tranquility; freedom from disturbance or agitation; applicable to society, to individuals, or to the temper of the mind.

  2. Freedom from war with a foreign nation; public quiet.

  3. Freedom from internal commotion or civil war.

  4. Freedom from private quarrels, suits or disturbance.

  5. Freedom from agitation or disturbance by the passions, as from fear, terror, anger, anxiety or the like; quietness of mind; tranquility; calmness; quiet of conscience

  • Great peace have they that love the law, Ps. 119

  1. Heavenly rest; the happiness of heaven.

  2. Harmony; concord; a state of reconciliation between parties at variance.

  3. Public tranquility; that quiet, order and security which is guaranteed by the laws; as, to keep the peace; to break the peace.

  • This word is used to commanding silence or quiet; as, peace to this troubled soul.

  • Peace, the lovers are asleep

  • To be at peace, to be reconciled; to live in harmony.

  • To make peace, to reconcile, as parties at variance.

  • To hold the peace, to be silent; to suppress one’s thoughts; not to speak.

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