The Standard Oil Trust is secretly created in the United States to control multiple corporations set up by John D. Rockefeller and his associates.
Irish-born author Oscar Wilde arrives in the United States for an extended lecture tour; when asked by a customs official if he has anything to declare, he replies "I have nothing to declare but my genius" according to later tradition.
January 5 – Charles J. Guiteau is found guilty of the assassination of James A. Garfield (President of the United States), despite an insanity defense raised by his lawyer. He will be hanged on June 30.
February 3 – American showman P. T. Barnum acquires the elephant Jumbo from London Zoo.
March 2 – Roderick McLean fails in an attempt to assassinate Queen Victoria at Windsor.
March 20 – British gunboats enter Monrovia, with Arthur Havelock demanding that Liberia cede disputed territory to the British colony of Sierra Leone of which he is Governor.
March 22 – Polygamy is made a felony by the Edmunds Act passed by the United States Congress.
March 24 – Robert Koch announces the discovery of the bacterium responsible for tuberculosis (Mycobacterium tuberculosis).
Republican Jules Ferry makes primary education in France free, non-clerical (laique) and obligatory.
German medical products company Beiersdorf is founded.
March 29 – The Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fraternal service organization, is founded in New Haven, Connecticut.
April 3 – Old West outlaw Jesse James is shot in the back of the head and killed by Robert Ford.
April 29 – The "Elektromote", the world's first trolleybus started in Berlin.
May 1 – Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, as known well for philharmonic orchestra group in Europe, which founded in Germany.
May 2 – Charles Stewart Parnell is released.
May 6 – Phoenix Park Murders in Ireland: Lord Frederick Cavendish, the newly appointed Chief Secretary for Ireland, and Thomas Henry Burke, his Permanent Undersecretary, are fatally stabbed in Phoenix Park, Dublin, by members of the Irish National Invincibles (militant Irish republicans).
May 8 – The Chinese Exclusion Act is the first important law which restricts immigration into the U.S.A.
May 20 – The Triple Alliance is formed between Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy.
A cyclone in the Arabian Sea causes flooding in Bombay harbor, leaving about 100,000 dead.
Battle of Embabo: The Shewan forces of Menelik II defeat the Gojjame army.
June 11 – The ‘Urabi Revolt breaks out in Egypt against Khedive Tewfik Pasha and European influence in that country.
June 28 – Anglo-French Convention of 1882 signed marking territorial boundaries between Guinea and Sierra Leone.
June 30 – U.S. presidential assassin Charles Guiteau is hanged.
July 11–13 – Anglo-Egyptian War: The British Mediterranean Fleet carries out the Bombardment of Alexandria, its forces capturing the city of Alexandria in Egypt and securing the Suez Canal.
Boers establish the republic of Stellaland in southern Africa.
Richard Wagner's opera Parsifal debuts at the Bayreuth Festspielhaus in Bavaria.
July 31 – The Hebrew Moshava of Rishon LeZion is founded.
August 3 – The U.S. Congress passes the 1882 Immigration Act.
August 5 – Standard Oil of New Jersey is established.
August 18 – The Married Women's Property Act 1882 receives royal assent in Britain; it enables women to buy, own and sell property and to keep their own earnings.
August 20 – Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture debuts in Moscow.
September 4 – Thomas Edison flips the switch to the first commercial electrical power plant in history, lighting one square mile of lower Manhattan. This is considered by many as the day that began the electrical age.
The first United States Labor Day parade is held in New York City.
Tottenham Hotspur F.C. is founded (as Hotspur F.C.)
September 13 – Anglo-Egyptian War: British troops occupy Cairo, and Egypt becomes a British protectorate.
September 18 – Great Comet of 1882: Her Majesty's Astronomer at the Cape, David Gill, reported watching the comet rise a few minutes before the Sun and described it as "The nucleus was then undoubtedly single, and certainly rather under than over 4″ in diameter; in fact, as I have described it, it resembled very much a star of the 1st magnitude seen by daylight."
October 5 – The Society for Ethical Culture of Chicago – (the modern-day Ethical Humanist Society of Chicago) is founded by Felix Adler.
October 14 – The University of the Punjab is founded in modern-day Pakistan.
October 16 – The New York, Chicago and St. Louis Railroad ("Nickel Plate Road") runs its first trains over the entire system between Buffalo, New York, and Chicago. Nine days later the Seney Syndicate sells the road to William Henry Vanderbilt for US$7.2 million.
November 14 – Franklin Leslie shoots Billy Claiborne dead in the streets of Tombstone, Arizona.
November 16 – The British Royal Navy's HMS Flirt destroys Abari village in Niger.
December 6 – A transit of Venus, the last until 2004, occurs.
December – Zikhron Ya'akov is founded in northern Israel.
Nikola Tesla claims this was when he conceived the rotating magnetic field principle he later used to invent his induction motor.
First International Polar Year, an international scientific program, begins.
Ferdinand von Lindemann publishes his proof of the transcendentality of pi.
Zulu king Cetshwayo kaMpande returns to South Africa.
A peace treaty is signed between Paraguay and Uruguay.
Pogroms in Southern Russia end.
The British Chartered Institute of Patent Agents is founded (now called Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys).
Redruth Mining School opens in Cornwall.
The Personal Liberty League is established to oppose the temperance movement in the United States.
Carolyn Merrick is elected president of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union.
St Andrew's Ambulance Association in Glasgow, Scotland, and St. John Ambulance in Canada are founded.
Édouard Manet exhibits his painting A Bar at the Folies-Bergère at the Paris Salon.
Waterloo Rugby Club
Albion Rovers F.C. (through the amalgamation of two Coatbridge clubs, Albion and Rovers)
Queens Park Rangers F.C.
Thames Ditton Lawn Tennis Club
Fan S. Noli, Albanian poet and political figure (d. 1965)
Sam Rayburn, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives (d. 1961)
January 12 – Milton Sills, American stage and film actor (d. 1930)
Arnold Rothstein, American gangster (d. 1928)
Noah Beery, American actor (d. 1946)
January 18 – A. A. Milne, British author (d. 1956)
January 20 – Johnny Torrio, Italian-born American gangster (d. 1957)
January 22 – Theodore Kosloff, Russian born actor (d. 1956)
January 25 – Virginia Woolf, English writer (d. 1941)
Mary Boland, American actress (d. 1965)
Gengo Hyakutake, Japanese admiral (d. 1976)
January 30 – Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd President of the United States (d. 1945)
Fritz Leiber (Sr.), American stage and screen actor (d. 1949)
J. Homer Tutt, American vaudeville producer and performer (d. 1951)
February 1 – Louis Stephen St. Laurent, 12th Prime Minister of Canada (d. 1973)
James Joyce, Irish author (d. 1941)
Anne Bauchens, American film editor worked for 40 years with Cecil B. DeMille (d. 1967)
February 4 – E. J. Pratt, Canadian poet (d. 1964)
February 8 – Thomas Selfridge, United States Army officer and first person killed in airplane crash (d. 1908)
February 11 – Valli Valli, Broadway actress (d. 1927)
February 14 – George Jean Nathan, American literary critic (d. 1958)
February 14 or 15 – John Barrymore, American actor (d. 1942)
February 22 – Eric Gill, British sculptor and writer (d. 1940)
February 26 – Husband E. Kimmel, American admiral (d. 1968)
Geraldine Farrar, American soprano (d. 1967)
Herbert Silberer, Austrian psychoanalyst (d. 1923)
March 6 – F. Burrall Hoffman, American architect (d. 1980)
March 8 – Alfred A. Cunningham, American aviator, the first United States Marine Corps aviator (d. 1939)
Wacław Sierpiński, Polish mathematician (d. 1969)
Giuseppe Tellera, Italian general (d. 1941)
March 15 – James Lightbody, American middle distance runner (d. 1953)
March 18 – Gian Francesco Malipiero, Italian composer (d. 1973)
March 22 – John W. Wilcox, Jr., American admiral (d. 1942)
March 23 – Emmy Noether, German mathematician (d. 1935)
March 24 – George Monckton-Arundell, 8th Viscount Galway, English politician, 5th Governor-General of New Zealand (d. 1943)
March 26 – Hermann Obrecht, Swiss Federal Councilor (d. 1940)
March 30 – Melanie Klein, Viennese child psychoanalyst (d. 1960)
April 7 – Kurt von Schleicher, Chancellor of Germany (d. 1934)
April 17 – Artur Schnabel, Polish pianist (d. 1951)
Isabel J. Cox, wife of Canadian prime minister Arthur Meighen (d. 1985)
Leopold Stokowski, English conductor (d. 1977)
Monteiro Lobato, Brazilian writer (d. 1948)
April 19 – Getúlio Vargas, president of Brazil (d. 1954)
April 20 – Holland Smith, American general (d. 1967)
April 21 – Percy Williams Bridgman, American physicist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1961)
April 24 – Hugh Dowding, commander of the RAF Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain (d. 1970)
April 29 – H.N. Werkman, Dutch artist and printer (d. 1945)
May 2 – James F. Byrnes, American politician and Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States (d. 1972)
May 5 – Sylvia Pankhurst, suffragette (d. 1960)
May 6 – Crown Prince Wilhelm of Germany, heir-apparent of Emperor Wilhelm II (d. 1951)
Henry J. Kaiser, American industrialist (d. 1967)
George Barker, American painter (d. 1965)
May 13 – Georges Braque, French painter (d. 1963)
May 19 – Mohammad Mosaddegh, Iranian prime minister (d. 1967)
May 20 – Sigrid Undset, Norwegian writer, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1949)
May 25 – Marie Doro, American stage & silent film actress (d. 1956)
May 26 – Roderick McMahon, American professional boxing and wrestling promoter (d. 1954)
May 30 – Wyndham Halswelle, British runner (d. 1915)
June 4 – Karl Valentin, German actor (d. 1948)
June 9 – Robert Kerr, Canadian sprinter (d. 1963)
June 10 – Nevile Henderson, British diplomat (d. 1942)
June 15 – Ion Antonescu, Romanian prime minister and dictator (d. 1946)
Igor Stravinsky, Russian composer (d. 1971)
Adolf Friedrich VI, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (d. 1918)
June 22 – Nikolai Cholodny, Russian microbiologist (d. 1953)
June 28 – Valeska Suratt, stage actress & silent film star (d. 1962)
July 1 – Bidhan Chandra Roy, Indian physician and politician, Chief Minister of West Bengal (d. 1962)
July 8 – Percy Grainger, Australian composer (d. 1962)
July 17 – James Somerville, British admiral (d. 1949)
July 22 – Edward Hopper, American painter (d. 1967)
July 24 – Lynn Thorndike, American historian of Medieval science and alchemy (d. 1965)
July 25 – George S. Rentz, United States Navy Chaplain and Navy Cross winner (d. 1942)
July 27 – Geoffrey de Havilland, British aviation pioneer and aircraft company founder (d. 1965)
August 11 – Rodolfo Graziani, Italian general (d. 1955)
August 14 – Gisela Richter, English art historian (d. 1972)
August 16 – Christian Mortensen, oldest verified male ever at the time of his death (d. 1998)
August 19 – MacGillivray Milne, United States Navy Captain and the 27th Governor of American Samoa (d. 1959)
Raymonde de Laroche, French aviator, the first woman to receive an aviator's license (d. 1919)
Madame de Meuron, famed Swiss noble lady and eccentric from Bern (d. 1980)
August 25 – Seán T. O'Kelly, second President of Ireland (d. 1966)
August 26 – James Franck, German-born physicist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1964)
September 1 – Nicholas H. Heck, American geophysicist, oceanographer, and surveyor (d. 1953)
September 11 – William T. Bovie, American biophysicist and inventor (d. 1958)
September 13 – Ramón Grau, Cuban president (d. 1969)
September 16 – Robert Hichens, RMS Titanic quartermaster, man at the wheel when Titanic hit the iceberg (d. 1940)
September 12 – Ion Agârbiceanu, a Romanian writer, journalist, politician and priest
September 22 – Wilhelm Keitel, German field marshal (d. 1946)
George Bancroft, American film actor (d. 1956)
Hans Geiger, German physicist (d. 1945)
October 2 – Boris Shaposhnikov, Soviet military leader, Marshal of the Soviet Union (d. 1945)
October 3 – A. Y. Jackson, Canadian painter (d. 1974)
October 5 – Robert H. Goddard, American rocket scientist (d. 1945)
October 6 – Karol Szymanowski, Polish composer (d. 1937)
Éamon de Valera, Taoiseach and third President of Ireland (d. 1975)
Charlie Parker, English cricketer (d. 1959)
October 17 – Giulio Gavotti, Italian aviator (d. 1939)
October 20 – Bela Lugosi, Hungarian-born actor (d. 1956)
October 24 – Sybil Thorndike, British stage & film actress (d. 1976)
October 25 – Florence Easton, English opera soprano (d. 1955)
William Halsey, Jr., American admiral (d. 1959)
Günther von Kluge, German field marshal (d. 1944)
November 8 – Ethel Clayton, silent screen star (d. 1966)
November 11 – King Gustaf VI Adolf of Sweden (d. 1973)
November 15 – Felix Frankfurter, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States (d. 1965)
November 18 – Jacques Maritain, Catholic philosopher (d. 1973)
November 20 – Ethel May Halls, American theatrical and film actress (d. 1967)
November 22 – Leonie von Meusebach–Zesch, Pioneer dentist (d. 1944)
November 29 – Henri Fabre, inventor of the first seaplane, the Fabre Hydravion (d. 1984)
Percy C. Mather, English Protestant missionary (d. 1933)
Joaquín Turina, Spanish composer (d. 1949)
Subramania Bharati, Tamil Indian poet (d. 1921)
Max Born, German physicist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1970)
December 12 – Ioannis Demestichas, Greek admiral (d. 1960)
Zoltán Kodály, Hungarian composer (d. 1967)
Jack Hobbs, English cricketer (d. 1963)
Walther Meissner, German technical physicist (d. 1974)
December 18 – Richard Maury, American naturalized Argentine engineer (d. 1950)
December 23 – Mokichi Okada, Japanese religious leader (d. 1955)
December 28 – Arthur Eddington, English astronomer, astrophysicist and mathematician (d. 1944)
December 29 – Raymond Stanton Patton, American admiral and engineer, second Director of the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey (d. 1937)
December 31 – Martin O'Meara, Australian soldier (d. 1935)
T. Sathasiva Iyer, Ceylon Tamil scholar and a writer in Tamil language (d. 1958)
January 7 – Ignacy Łukasiewicz, Polish pharmacist and inventor of the first method of distilling kerosene from seep oil, creator of the first oil lamp (b. 1822)
January 6 – Richard Henry Dana, Jr., founder of Dana Point, California (b. 1815)
January 11 – Theodor Schwann, German physiologist (b. 1810)
January 13 – Juraj Dobrila, Croatian bishop (b. 1812)
January 27 – Robert Christison, Scottish toxicologist and physician (b. 1797)
February 6 – J. J. McCarthy, Irish architect (b. 1817)
March 9 – Giovanni Lanza, Italian politician (b. 1810)
March 19 – Carl Robert Jakobson, Estonian writer, politician, and teacher (b. 1841)
March 23 – Gustavus H. Scott, American admiral (b. 1812)
March 24 – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, American author (b. 1807)
April 3 – Jesse James, American Western outlaw (b. 1847)
April 10 – Dante Gabriel Rossetti, English poet and painter (b. 1828)
April 11 – John Lenthall, American naval architect and shipbuilder (b. 1807)
April 12 – Henri Giffard, French balloonist and aviation pioneer (b. 1825)
George Jennings, English sanitary engineer (b. 1801)
Antonio Fontanesi, Italian painter (b. 1818)
April 19 – Charles Darwin, British naturalist (b. 1809)
April 25 – Johann Karl Friedrich Zöllner, German astrophysicist (b. 1834)
April 27 – Ralph Waldo Emerson, American philosopher and writer (b. 1803)
May 5 – John Rodgers, American admiral (b. 1812)
June 2 – Giuseppe Garibaldi, Italian patriot (b. 1807)
June 3 – Christian Wilberg, German painter (b. 1839)
François Jouffroy, French sculptor (b. 1806)
Mikhail Skobelev, Russian general (b. 1843)
Alberto Henschel, German-Brazilian photographer and businessman (b. 1827)
Charles J. Guiteau, American preacher, writer, lawyer, assassin of James A. Garfield (executed) (b. 1841)
July 4 – Joseph Brackett, American Shaker religious leader and composer (b. 1797)
July 7 – Mikhail Skobelev, Russian general (b. 1843)
July 16 – Mary Todd Lincoln, First Lady of the United States (b. 1818)
July 20 – Fanny Parnell, Irish poet and founder of the Ladies' Land League (b. 1848)
August 16 – Auguste-Alexandre Ducrot, French general (b. 1817)
August 25 – Friedrich Reinhold Kreutzwald, Estonian writer and physician (b. 1803)
August 31 – Pedro Luiz Napoleão Chernoviz, Brazilian physician, writer and publisher (b. 1812)
September 8 – Joseph Liouville, French mathematician (b. 1809)
September 23 – Friedrich Wöhler, German chemist, (b. 1800)
September 16 – Edward Bouverie Pusey, British churchman (b. 1800)
September 30 – José Milla y Vidaurre, Guatemalan writer (b. 1822)
November 7 – Julius Hübner, German painter (b. 1806)
November 14 – Billy Claiborne, American gunfighter (b. 1860)
December 3 – Archibald Campbell Tait, Archbishop of Canterbury (b. 1811)
Alfred Escher, Swiss politician, railroad entrepreneur (b. 1819)
Louis Blanc, French politician and historian (b. 1811)
Anthony Trollope, British novelist and postal service official (b. 1815)
December 18 – Henry James, Sr., American theologian (b. 1811)
December 21 – Francesco Hayez, Italian painter (b. 1791)
December 31 – Léon Gambetta, French statesman (b. 1838)
Eugénie Luce, French educator (b. 1804)
1882 (MDCCCLXXXII) was a common year starting on Sunday (dominical letter A) of the Gregorian calendar and a common year starting on Friday (dominical letter C) of the Julian calendar, the 1882nd year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 882nd year of the 2nd millennium, the 82nd year of the 19th century, and the 3rd year of the 1880s decade. As of the start of 1882, the Gregorian calendar was 12 days ahead of the Julian calendar, which remained in localized use until 1923.