Discommendation was a legal penalty in the Klingon Empire in which an individual was ceremonially shunned, stripped of honor, and severely reduced in social status with few rights in Klingon society. Additionally, the individual's family was shunned. (TNG: "Sins of the Father", "Reunion")
The ceremony in which this punishment was meted out was simple. The Klingon about to be discommended will state, tlhIH ghIj jIHyoj. (I fear your judgement.). He will then be called biHnuch (Coward) by the highest-ranked Klingon who will subsequently cross his or her arms in front of his or her chest, and turn his or her back on the recipient, while others follow suit one by one until almost all Klingons have their backs turned. The speed of this gesture varied, from formal ceremonies which were done slowly to summary punishments which could occur as quickly as the Klingons in judgment could move. (TNG: "Sins of the Father")
A discommendated Klingon became a pariah to Klingons everywhere. Other Klingons would often refuse to associate with him or her, and it was customary to refer to them as "that" (an object, rather than a person). If a Klingon did need to communicate with one who was discommendated, a specific ritual could be performed to allow it without consequences. (TNG: "Reunion")
However, dishonored Klingons did retain some basic rights, such as the right to demand vengeance for the life of a loved one. Despite being discommendated, Worf was admitted onto the IKS Vorn and was able to challenge Duras to single combat after revealing that Ambassador K'Ehleyr, whom Duras had murdered, was Worf's mate. (TNG: "Reunion")
If a Klingon leader decided to restore a discommendated Klingon's honor, he ceremonially presented his personal dagger for the Klingon to grasp by the blade tightly enough to draw blood. With this gesture, the leader stated
- "I give you back your family honor. I give you back what was wrongfully taken from you. Let your name be spoken once again. You are ___________, son/daughter of _________________."
There have been at least three occurrences reported. Arne Darvin, the undercover operative who was discovered by James T. Kirk was discommendated for his failed operation in sabotaging the quadrotriticale bound for Sherman's Planet. He never returned to Klingon society afterwards and eventually found himself stranded on Cardassia Prime during the Klingon-Federation War. (TOS: "The Trouble with Tribbles"; DS9: "Trials and Tribble-ations")
The second incident was when Worf's father was posthumously accused of treason and Worf came to the Klingon High Council to challenge that ruling. When Worf learned that the House of Duras was actually responsible, he accepted discommendation in order to prevent the scandal from sparking a civil war. When a civil war began of its own accord, Gowron was persuaded to restore Worf's honor. (TNG: "Sins of the Father", "Redemption")
The third incident was when Quark was maneuvered into marrying Grilka, whose husband, Kozak, he had inadvertently killed. After Quark learned and revealed that D'Ghor had committed a serious case of fraud, the Klingon responded to the accusation by challenging him to a duel. Knowing that he was no match for D'Ghor in combat, he tried a bold stratagem. At the moment of the duel's commencement, he threw down his weapon and freely offered his life to his opponent noting that he could not prove his accusation in this manner. When D'Ghor was about to kill Quark, Gowron intervened and had him discommendated on the spot for the dishonorable act of attempting to kill an unresisting opponent. D'Ghor was exiled with a ruined social status, and Quark gained considerable admiration as an atypically courageous Ferengi. (DS9: "The House of Quark")
- According to Diane Duane's novel Dark Mirror, which takes place in the mirror universe, the Klingons were conquered by the Terran Empire, who subjected the entire Klingon race to discommendation, en masse, as a way of breaking their spirit before enslaving them.
- At the conclusion of Star Trek: Prey, series antagonist Korgh, the son of Kruge, is subjected to discommendation for his actions against the Empire and the Federation, although Worf appeals to the High Council to only show discommendation to Korgh rather than his entire family, giving Korgh's wife and children the chance to join the council in the discommendation ceremony.