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Bigamy is a statutory offence in England and Wales, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and other countries.[which?] It is committed by a person who, being married to another person, goes through a ceremony capable of producing a valid marriage with a second person.

England and Wales, Northern Ireland, and the Republic of Ireland

The offence is created by section 57 of the Offences against the Person Act 1861:

Whosoever, being married, shall marry any other person during the life of the former husband or wife, whether the second marriage shall have taken place in England or Ireland or elsewhere, shall be guilty of felony, and being convicted thereof shall be liable to be kept in penal servitude for any term not exceeding seven years ... : Provided, that nothing in this section contained shall extend to any second marriage contracted elsewhere than in England and Ireland by any other than a subject of Her Majesty, or to any person marrying a second time whose husband or wife shall have been continually absent from such person for the space of seven years then last past, and shall not have been known by such person to be living within that time, or shall extend to any person who, at the time of such second marriage, shall have been divorced from the bond of the first marriage, or to any person whose former marriage shall have been declared void by the sentence of any court of competent jurisdiction.

This section replaces section 22 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1828, which replaced section 1 of 1 Jac.1 c.11 (1603).

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary




From Old French bigamie, from Latin bigamia, bigamus, from bi- + Greek γάμος (gamos)


  • IPA: /ˈbɪɡəˌmi/




bigamy (plural bigamies)

  1. The state of having two (legal or illegal) spouses simultaneously
  2. (ecclesiastical) A second marriage


  • (a second marriage): digamy, deuterogamy


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.

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