A Dictionary of Law

A Dictionary of Law

One of the historical legal dictionaries is the “Dictionary of Law consisting of Judicial Definitions and Explanations of Words, Phrases and Maxims.” As the original title states, it is a Dictionary and Compendium of American and English Jurisprudence. Compiled and written by attorney William C. Anderson and published in Chicago by T. H. Flood and Company, Law Publishers, in three editions.

For a list of entries in this law dictionary, see the entry here.

1889 Edition

  • Complete name: “A dictionary of law consisting of judicial definitions and explanations of words, phrases, and maxims : and an exposition of the principles of law: comprising a dictionary and compendium of American and English jurisprudence”.
  • Author: Anderson, William C.
  • Publisher: Published in 1889 by T.H. Flood and Company in Chicago, Illinois .
  • Language: Written in English.
  • Number of pages: 1132 pages

1893 Edition

  • Complete name: “A dictionary of law, consisting of judicial definitions and explanations of words, phrases, and maxims, and an exposition of the principles of law: comprising a dictionary and compendium of American and English jurisprudence.”
  • Autor: William C Anderson
  • Publisher: Chicago, T.H. Flood and Co., 1913. Illinois, United States.
  • Language: Written in English.
  • Number of pages: 1140 pages

1913 Edition

  • Complete name: “A dictionary of law, consisting of judicial definitions and explanations of words, phrases, and maxims, and an exposition of the principles of law: comprising a dictionary and compendium of American and English jurisprudence.”
  • Autor: William C Anderson
  • Publisher: Chicago, T.H. Flood and Co., 1913. Illinois, United States.
  • Language: Written in English.
  • Number of pages: 1140 pages

Introduction by the Author

The title Dictionary of Law has been chosen for this book because it seeks to define and otherwise explain law terms and expressions, to show the application of legal principles, and to present judicial interpretations of common words and phrases.

Similar productions, heretofore issued, are marked, in the opinion of the writer, by the following imperfections:
1. Absence of judicial matter, especially of judicial definitions or interpretations and reasoning: also, dearth of non-technical terms as cross-references.
2. Neglect or omission of important subjects, and needless repetition of matter under different heads. ‘
3. Inattention to pronunciation, and lack of discrimination in selecting words for etymological explanation.
4. Omission of the names of the parties to important cases, and of the dates when decisions were rendered.
5. The presence of thousands of obsolete Anglo-Saxon, Old English, Scotch, Spanish, French, and civil law words and phrases, antiquated Norman and Latin expressions, and matters of a purely non-legal character,-—a mass of material of no use to student or practitioner, of interest to the legal antiquarian alone.

In the preparation of this work care has been taken not to follow in the “beaten path” of law dictionaries. Under the following heads its plan is set forth:

1. The diiferent spellings of terms are noted, the preferred spelling being placed first, with comment where pertinent.
2. The correct pronunciation of words often mispronounced is indicated, according to Webster’s Dictionary.
3. As to etymology, while the aim has been to discriminate between terms whose origin is of no importance or interest and such as contain in their anciem form somewhat of their present signification, the supposed origin of all technical terms is stated.
4. The definitions are printed in the larger type, except where incorporated in
a paragraph along with explanatory matter.

The endeavor has been to find definitions framed by the courts, the highest tribunals of this country receiving the preference. Some by text-writers also are given. Where a court explains rather than defines a term (as, in a charge to a jury), such explanation has generally been condensed. Definitions thought to
be too narrow or too broad in statement have been modified with a view to greater fullness and clearness.

Any change made in the phraseology of a definition is indicated. A single bracket [denotes that a slight or immaterial change has been made; a double bracket [ ] that the substance only is given — that the definition is recast, or that a definition is constructed out of the language employed by the authority cited, or is formed upon partial or incomplete definitions found in the accompanying citations.

The absence of a bracket denotes that no change has been made in the language of the court. This last class of definitions makes up the body of the DICTIONARY portion of the book, and constitutes one of the special features mentioned-‘—its large number of judicially framed definitions.

The word “whence,” which will be noticed in the text immediately after some definitions, does not necessarily mean that the word or words which follow it are derived from the title word, but that they are derivatives from the same root word,— the latter being sometimes included in the appended list. This is done to avoid repetitions under different forms of the same word.

Expressions having the same initial word are placed under that word. arranged alphabetically with reference to the second word. Thus, A mensa will be found under A, and not between Amends and A’merce. For typographical reasons, general cross-references have been advanced to the beginning of a few articles, and some common words, not originally intended for definition, have been defined.

5. Synonyms are treated under the leading word of the group. For positives and negatives— words beginning with dis-, il-, in-, non-, re-, un-, reference should be had to the simple word, except where the negative itself is the word most used. Examples: Dishonor, Insolvency, and Insanity.

6. The Latin and Norman-French law terms now in use have been collected, and such maxims and phrases as student and practitioner alike meet in the books they consult. The selection also includes important terms found in treatises on Roman law, mention of the primitive meaning of terms current under new applications, and explanation of a few terms in ancient law long obsolete but occasionally referred to as of historical interest.

Each Latin maxim or phrase is entered, in whole or in part, as a title or subtitle under its initial word; but if that word is unimportant, like the particles a, ab, con, de, in, nam, pro, qui, quad, ut, or is an adjective, a cross-reference is made from such word to the principal word, under which the expression is ex
plained at length.

7. Having given the origin of a term, and the senses in which it is used, where the importance of the subject warrants it, the value of the idea or the extent of its application in the affairs of society is stated—by comment, more or less extended, or by reference to a related topic under which such information may be
found. These remarks, which are printed in the smaller type and compose the COMMENTARY portion of the work, consist, in brief, of matters pertaining, it is believed, to every recognized branch of the law, and set forth the “ reasoning of the law” itself.

For English common law antedating the adoption of the Constitution, I have relied chiefly upon the commentaries of Blackstone, making my own abridgment of that invaluable treatise, and citing it in all cases. Many statements of principles have been taken from the commentaries and decisions of Chancellor Kent,
more from the works and decisions of Judge Story, and not a few paragraphs from other and later standard writers.

Under appropriate heads have been embodied the various provisions of the Constitution of the United States, and many from the constitutions of the States.

When the former is given verbatim its original orthography and punctuation have been restored.

Quotations are made from English statutes followed in this country.

Still more frequently acts of Congress, from the earliest to the latest date, have been drawn upon -— very important recent ones being reprinted entire; also, enactments in the several States, including sections from codes.

There are also presented decisions of the courts on the foregoing subjects, explanatory of questions of general and sometimes of local importance, and, for the most part. of permanent interest. To this end, all the decisions of the United States Supreme Court have been read, and thousands of the decisions rendered in
the States—indeed, entire series of State reports.

8. In the cross-references a subject may be found to be not the title word, but its shortest form.

English words are referred to foreign words, and vice versa, wherever there is likeness or sameness of sense between them, and a perusal of both will contribute to an understanding of the general subject.

Sub-titles referred to under the title word are italicised.

Having treated each word where it will be soonest comprehended in its own meaning or meanings and as related to other subjects, references to it, under heads where it might be incidentally treated. are entered.

Specific terms are fully defined only under the generic head with which they are associated. Thus under “Express” the reader will not find “ express contract:” he will there find “express” explained, generically and specifically, but it is only under “Contract” that he will learn anything substantial about “express contract.” Not so, with local or isolated expressions, such as “ Baby Act” and “ Lynch Law.”

9. In the selection of cases, preference has been given to decisions reviewing or collecting earlier cases. In a very few instances the dates of decisions are not given because not known.

In collections of leading cases, where the annotations are the important matter, the year of the title case may not be stated.

From 108 to 128 United States Supreme Court Reports (October, 1882, to January, 1889), the year when an opinion was rendered is given; prior to 108 U. S., the reporters noted only the year of the term to which the writ of error or the appeal was taken.

Cases without the names of the parties are such as follow a text-book quoted; or they occur where it was not thought necessary to make copious reference to definitions on common technical terms; or where a later quotes an earlier author ity already given in full; or they are so added in order not to take up space on a point already supported by cases cited at length; or they establish a principle universally accepted; or they concern incidental or illustrative matters; or they show where a term or maxim was applied. Cited to a common word, they will sometimes be found to contain that word without suggestion as to its general
meaning or use.

The word “cases,” printed at the end of a citation, imports that the court examined previous decisions which will be found discussed or referred to in the decision itself. This device, while saving space, directs the reader to other cases on the same subject.

The abbreviation id. refers to another volume in the same set or series; ib., to the volume last mentioned. Unless otherwise indicated, new series is meant, where there is also an “ old series.” “ R.” stands for Railroad or Railway. “Constitution” means Constitution of the United States; while “constitution” refers to the similar instrument belonging to a particular State. “Supreme Court” means the Supreme Court of the United States; in a few instances, for purposes of distinction, the names of the other Federal courts begin with capital letters. “State” refers to one of the United States; “state” to a nation; “ R. S.” to the Revised
Statutes of the United States; “ Government” to the National government.

The first descriptive word in the names of corporations has been sought for. Some reports furnish nothing more than “Insurance Co.” or “ Railroad Co.” Unless otherwise noted, the original or star pages are intended.

10. I have received valuable information from other dictionaries. For original extracts taken from them due credit has been given. Definitions from these books, adopted by the courts, are noted. Where a court has approved a definition of a common word as found in a vernacular dictionary, or in a cyclopedia, the title of such work is placed after the particular case, separated from it by a colon; so, also, with matter from other sources.

11. References are made to useful articles in the law periodicals, especially to such as discuss cases, and to a few articles in lay publications.

12. A knowledge of the chief events in the lives of Sir William Blackstone, James Kent, and Joseph Story, the most widely read of law-writers,— in particular, the circumstances under which their works were composed, with information as to diferent editions,— being useful to all students of the law, and those works having been largely quoted throughout this book—brief biographies are inserted under the-names of those distinguished jurists.

Hoping that the volume will in some degree lighten the labors of student and practitioner, it is submitted to the kindly consideration of the profession.

Pittsburgh, Pa., March 1, 1889.