The Law Dictionary

Your Free Online Legal Dictionary • Featuring Black’s Law Dictionary, 2nd Ed.

BURKING-BURKISM Definition & Legal Meaning

Definition & Citations:

Murder committed with the object of selling the cadaver for purposes of dissection, particularly and originally, by suffocating or strangling the victim. So named from William Burke, a notorious practitioner of this crime, who was hanged at Edinburgh in 1829. It is said that the first instance of his name being thus used as a synonym for the form of death he had inflicted on others occurred when he himself was led to the gibbet, the crowd around the scaffold shouting “Burke him!”


This article contains general legal information but does not constitute professional legal advice for your particular situation. The Law Dictionary is not a law firm, and this page does not create an attorney-client or legal adviser relationship. If you have specific questions, please consult a qualified attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.