AskDefine | Define hearsay

Dictionary Definition

hearsay adj : heard through another rather than directly; "hearsay information" n : gossip (usually a mixture of truth and untruth) passed around by word of mouth [syn: rumor, rumour]

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. information that was heard by one person about another
  2. evidence based on the reports of others rather than on personal knowledge; normally inadmissible because not made under oath


information that was heard by one person about another
evidence based on the reports of others rather than on personal knowledge

Extensive Definition

Hearsay is a legal term referring to the use of out of court statements as evidence.


United States

Unless one of the many exceptions applies, hearsay is not allowed as evidence in the United States.

England and Wales

In England and Wales, hearsay is generally admissible in civil proceedings but is only admissible in criminal proceedings if it falls within a statutory or common law exception, all of the parties to the proceedings agree, or the court is satisfied that it is in the interests of justice that the evidence is admissible.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong's law of hearsay is modeled on the UK law. Since 1 July 1997, English cases are merely persuasive and not binding on Hong Kong courts, but in practice they are usually followed. The situation for civil cases is covered by ss 46-55B of the Evidence Ordinance, that Ordinance also covers certain exceptions in criminal cases, supplementing the common law.

New Zealand

New Zealand law of hearsay is similar to that of the UK. The Evidence Act 1908 is slowly being replaced by the Evidence Act 2006.


hearsay in German: Hörensagen
hearsay in Hebrew: עדות מפי השמועה
hearsay in Japanese: 伝聞証拠禁止の原則
hearsay in Chinese: 傳聞證據排除法則
hearsay in Swedish: Hörsägen

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

absolute, adducible, admissible, attestative, attestive, authentic, based on, bruit, buzz, canard, certain, circumstantial, circumstantial evidence, collateral evidence, common talk, conclusive, convincing, corpus delicti, cry, cumulative, cumulative evidence, damning, decisive, determinative, direct evidence, documentary, documentary evidence, documented, evidence in chief, evidential, evidentiary, ex parte, ex parte evidence, extrinsic evidence, eye-witness, factual, final, firsthand, flying rumor, founded on, gossip, grapevine, grounded on, hearsay evidence, idea afloat, implicit, incontrovertible, incriminating evidence, indicative, indirect evidence, indisputable, intrinsic evidence, irrefutable, irresistible, latrine rumor, material, news stirring, nuncupative, on-dit, oral evidence, overwhelming, presumptive, presumptive evidence, prima facie evidence, probative, reliable, report, roorback, rumble, rumor, scuttlebutt, significant, suggestive, sure, symptomatic, talk, telling, town talk, unconfirmed report, valid, weighty, whisper, word-of-mouth evidence
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