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Middle English, from Anglo-French consentir, from Latin consentire, from com- + sentire to feel

L. consent{i}re to feel together, agree, accord harmonize, f. con- together + sent{i}re to feel, think, judge, etc. The sense, ‘consent to a thing being done’ was a subsequent development, but occurs in 12th c. in Fr.


  • 1 : to give assent or approval : agree <consent to being tested>
  • 2 archaic : to be in concord in opinion or sentiment


Consent refers to the provision of approval or assent, particularly and especially after thoughtful consideration.[1][2]


Consent can be either expressed or implied. For example, participation in a contact sport usually implies consent to contact by other participants, when contact is permitted by the rules of the sport. Express consent exists when verbal or written contractual agreement occurs.

If a person signs a document stating that he or she is aware of the hazards of an activity, and that individual is then injured during that activity, the express consent given in advance may excuse another person who caused an injury to that person.

In English law, the principle of volenti non fit injuria applies not only to participants in sport, but also to spectators and to any others who willingly engage in activities where there is a risk of injury. Consent has also been used as a defense in cases involving accidental deaths, which occur during sexual bondage. Time (May 23, 1988) referred to this latter example, as the "rough-sex defense" but it is not effective in English law when serious injury or death results.

As a term of jurisprudence prior provision of consent signifies a possible defense (an excuse or justification) against civil or criminal liability. Defendants who use this defense are arguing that they should not be held liable for a tort or a crime, since the actions in question occurred with the plaintiff or "victim's" prior consent and permission.[1]

See also