Legal Definition and Related Resources of Ignorance

Meaning of Ignorance

Lack of knowledge , denoting a negative condition of the mind. Different from mistake as ignorance implies passiveness, while Ômistake implies action . Ignorance may be the result of laches , while mistake implies diligence . See Fitzgerald v Morgan, 38 S.E.2d 171, 200 Ga. 651.

Ignorance Alternative Definition

The lack of knowledge. Ignorance is distinguishable from “error” or “mistake.” Ignorance is want of knowledge; error is the nonconformity or opposition of ideas to the truth. Considered as a motive of actipns, ignorance differs but little from error. They are generally found together, and what is said of one is said of both. 1 Story, Eq. Jur. 108 et seq. See 4 Johns. Ch. (N. Y.) 567.
(1) Ignorance of fact is the want of knowledge as to the fact in question. It would be an error resulting from ignorance of fact, if a man believed a certain woman to be unmarried and free, when, in fact, she was a married woman, and were he to marry her under that belief, he would not be criminally responsible. 6 Allen (Mass.) 591. Ignorance of the laws of a foreign government, or of another state, is ignorance of fact. 9 Pick. (Mass.) 112. See, for the difference between ignorance of law and ignorance of fact, 9 Pick. (Mass.) 112.
(2) Ignorance of law consists in the want of knowledge of those laws which it is our duty to understand, and which every man is presumed to know. The law forbids any one to marry a woman whose husband is living. If any man, then, imagined he could marry such a woman, he would be ignorant of tho law, and if he married her he would commit an error as to a matter of law. How far a party is bound to fulfill a promise to pay, upon a supposed liability, and in ignorance of the law, see 12 East, 38; 2 Jac & W. 263; 5 Taunt. 143; 3 Barn. & C. 280; 1 Johns. Ch. (N. Y.) 512, 516; 6 Johns. Ch. (N. Y.) 166; 9 Cow. (N. Y.) 674; 4 Mass. 342; 7 Mass. 452, 488; 9 Pick. (Mass.) 112; 1 Bin. (Pa.) 27. Ignorance of law is.a passive state, and is distinguished from actual mistake of law. 7 Ga. 70.
(3) Essential ignorance is ignorance in relation to some essential circumstance, so intimately connected with the matter in question, and which so influences the parties, that it induces them to act in the business. 2 Kent, Comm. 367.
(4) Nonessential or accidental ignorance is that which has not of itself any necessary connection with the business in question, and which is not the true consideration for entering into the contract; as, if a man should marry a woman whom he believed to be rich, and she proved to be poor, this fact would not be essential, and the marriage would therefore be good.
(5) Voluntary ignorance exists when a party might, by taking reasonable pains, have acquired the necessary knowledge. For example, every man might acquire a knowledge of the laws which have been promulgated. A neglect to become acquainted with them is therefore voluntary ignorance. Doctor & Stud. 1, 46; Plowd. 343.
(6) Involuntary ignorance is that which does not proceed from choice, and which could not have been avoided by any means at the party’s command, as of a law not yet promulgated.

Synonyms of Ignorance


  • benightedness
  • bewilderment
  • blindness
  • darkness
  • denseness
  • fog
  • greenness
  • haze
  • illiteracy
  • illiterateness
  • imprudentia
  • incognizance
  • incomprehension
  • inerudition
  • inexperience
  • inscientia
  • inscitia
  • insensibility
  • lack of education
  • lack ofknowledge
  • lack of learning
  • maze
  • nescience
  • obtuseness
  • perplexity
  • rawness
  • simplicity
  • unacquaintance
  • unawareness
  • unconsciousness
  • unenlightenment
  • unfamiliarity
  • unintelligence
  • unknowingness
  • unlearnedness
  • unscholarliness
  • untaught state
  • vagueness
  • want of knowledge Associated Concepts: culpable ignorance
  • essential ignorance
  • involuntary ignorance
  • voluntary ignorance foreign phrases: Ignorantia praesumitur ubi scientia non probatur
  • Ignorance is presumed where knowledge is not proved
  • Ignorantia legis neminem excusat
  • Ignorance of the law excuses no one
  • Regula est
  • juris quidem ignorantiam cuique nocerefacti vero ignorantiam non nocere
  • The rule is that a person’s ignorance of the law may prejudice him
  • but that his ignorance of fact will not
  • Ignorantia juris sui non praejudicatjuri
  • I gnorance of one’s right does not prejudice the right
  • Ignorantia excusator
  • non juris sea facti
  • Ignorance of fact may excuse
  • but not ignorance of law
  • Ignorantia juris quod quisque tenetur scire
  • neminem excusat
  • Ignorance of law
  • which everyone is bound to know
  • excuses no one
  • Nemo tenetus informare qui nescit
  • sed quisquís scire quod informat
  • No one who is ignorant of a thing is bound to give information about it
  • but everyone is bound to know that concerning which he gives information

Related Entries of Ignorance in the Encyclopedia of Law Project

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Ignorance in Historical Law

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Legal Abbreviations and Acronyms

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Ignorance Of The Law, Material Fact, .


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