I recall there was a term for a very specific thing that can happen when the person in charge - king, president, dictator, etc - suggests something be done and someone does it, that might make the leader responsible for it. Something like inciting violence, but more specific to them as a leader. It wouldn't apply to a random person making the same statement.

Sort of like in mob movies where the boss says somebody needs to "take care of that guy" it is understood they are asking their subordinates to kill someone. I'm not sure if I'm recalling modern legal terminology or historical description of events, but is there a word for this?

The end result was the person in charge was effectively responsible for giving an order even though he or she was vague about it because by the nature of them being in charge, the suggestion was seen as an order to those under him.

  • Solicitation? Inducement? Incitement?
    – bdb484
    Sep 3, 2020 at 4:13
  • Maybe? I honestly don't know myself so I'm hoping someone with actual legal knowledge can answer for me. I last took legal classes about 20 years ago and the specific term eludes me. Sep 3, 2020 at 4:15
  • 1
    The principle of respondeat superior is related, could that be what you have in mind? There's also command responsibility. Sep 3, 2020 at 4:59
  • That is what I was looking for I believe thank you. Good enough for now. Thank you. :) Sep 4, 2020 at 19:16

1 Answer 1


There isn't a legal term

The legally recognised doctrine of respondeat superior simply requires that an agent is acting within the scope of their obligations to their principal. If they are then the principal is liable for their actions.

In a criminal rather than a legal sense, the relevant crime is conspiricy - where two or more people plan a joint criminal enterprise.

From a legal point of view, what must be proved is that the "person in charge" gave instructions to the subordinate based on the evidence. Obviously, a signed note in the superior's handwriting ordering a hit is ideal evidence of this but testimony "that he raised his eyebrow and we all knew what that meant" may be sufficient to convince a judge or jury.

Outside of the law

There are some related concepts:

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