Black's Law Dictionary
Black's Law Dictionary is the most widely used law dictionary
A law dictionary is a dictionary that is designed and compiled to give information about terms used in the field of law.Nielsen 1994 discusses different types of law dictionaries. A distinction is made between different types of law dictionaries. A monolingual law dictionary covers one language, a...
in the United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...
. It was founded by Henry Campbell Black
Henry Campbell Black
Henry Campbell Black was the founder of Black's Law Dictionary, the definitive legal dictionary first published in 1891....
. It is the reference of choice for definitions in legal briefs
A brief is a written legal document used in various legal adversarial systems that is presented to a court arguing why the party to the case should prevail....
and court opinions
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and has been cited as a secondary legal authority
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in many U.S. Supreme Court
Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...
The latest editions, including abridged and pocket versions, are useful starting points for the layman
A layperson or layman is a person who is not an expert in a given field of knowledge. The term originally meant a member of the laity, i.e. a non-clergymen, but over the centuries shifted in definition....
or student when faced with an unfamiliar legal word.
HistoryThe first edition was published in 1891, and the second edition in 1910. The sixth and earlier editions of the book also provided case citations for the term cited, which some lawyers view as its most useful feature, providing a useful starting point with leading cases. The Internet made legal research easier than it ever had been, so many state- or circuit-specific case citations and outdated or overruled case citations were dropped from the seventh edition in 1999. The eighth edition introduced a unique system of perpetually updated case citations and cross-references to legal encyclopedias. The ninth edition was published in the summer of 2009.
Because many legal terms are derived from a Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...
root word, the Dictionary gives a pronunciation guide for such terms. In addition, the applicable entries provide pronunciation transcriptions pursuant to those found among North American practitioners of law or medicine.
AvailabilityAn online version of the latest edition can be accessed through the paid Westlaw
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legal information service and as of late 2006, West Academic has published Black's Law Dictionary Digital, 8th edition (ISBN 9780314176103) which has toolbars that integrate with Microsoft Word
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, Mozilla Firefox
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and Internet Explorer
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. The second edition of Black's Law Dictionary (1910) is now in the public domain
Works are in the public domain if the intellectual property rights have expired, if the intellectual property rights are forfeited, or if they are not covered by intellectual property rights at all...
. The Lawbook Exchange, Ltd. has reprinted the first and second editions (ISBN 0-9630106-0-3 and ISBN 1-886363-10-2, respectively).
As of 2009 it is available as an Apple iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad application. Other mobile applications include BlackBerry
BlackBerry is a line of mobile email and smartphone devices developed and designed by Canadian company Research In Motion since 1999.BlackBerry devices are smartphones, designed to function as personal digital assistants, portable media players, internet browsers, gaming devices, and much more...
- Āqāʼī, Bahman. Farhang-i ḥuqūqī-i Bahman : Ingilīsī-Fārsī : bar asās-i Black's law dictionary (1999) (Fārsī)
- Muqtadirah-yi Qaumī Zabān. Qānūnī, Angrezī-Urdu lug̲h̲at : Blaiks lāʼ dikshanarī se māk̲h̲ūz (Based on Black's law dictionary) / nigrān, Fatiḥ Muḥammad Malik (2002) (Urdu) ISBN 9694740843