Black's Law Dictionary

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Black's Law Dictionary
Image of the 7th edition
Editor Bryan A. Garner
CountryUnited States
Publisher West (Thomson Reuters)
Publication date
1891 (1st)
1910 (2nd)
1933 (3rd)
1951 (4th)
1968 (4thR)
1979 (5th)
1990 (6th)
1999 (7th)
2004 (8th)
2009 (9th)
2014 (10th)
2019 (11th)
ISBN 978-1-5392-2975-9
Website Black's Law Dictionary

Black's Law Dictionary is the most widely used law dictionary in the United States. Henry Campbell Black (1860–1927) was the author of the first two editions of the dictionary. However, it remains an abridged dictionary with pronunciation guides and slight reference material.



The first edition was published in 1891 by West Publishing, while the second edition was published in 1910. [1] The sixth and earlier editions of the book additionally provided case citations for the term cited, which was viewed by lawyers as its most useful feature, providing a useful starting point with leading cases. The invention of the Internet made legal research easier therefore many state- or circuit-specific case citations and outdated or overruled case citations were omitted from the seventh edition in 1999.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 current edition is the eleventh, published in 2019. [2]

As many legal terms are derived from a Latin root word, the dictionary provides a pronunciation guide for such terms. [3] In addition, the applicable entries provide pronunciation transcriptions pursuant to those found among North American practitioners of law or medicine.


An online version of the tenth edition can be accessed through the paid Westlaw legal information service.

The second edition of Black's Law Dictionary (1910) is now in the public domain and can be read online for free (see External Links below.)The dictionary applies for legal theory terms, and many basic legal terms with respect to their general meaning. References to case law will be incomplete for modern purposes, and the use of legal language in court filings and in the courtroom has changed with changes in law and legal culture over time. [4] The Lawbook Exchange, Ltd. has reprinted both the first and second editions of the dictionary ( ISBN   0-9630106-0-3 and ISBN   1-886363-10-2) and it is also available as a Windows Phone application. The tenth edition of this dictionary is available as an application for iOS devices. [5] [6]


Pocket editions

Non-English editions

See also

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  1. OCLC   33831602
  3. Macleod, P. R. (1997). Latin in legal writing: an inquiry into the use of Latin in the modern legal world. BCL Rev., 39, 235.
  4. Example: "libelant": Formerly the party who filed an initiatory Pleading (a formal declaration of a claim) in an ecclesiastical or religious matter or in an admiralty case, corresponding to the plaintiff in actions at law. Since 1966, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Supplementary Admiralty Rules have governed admiralty actions, which are presently commenced by complaint [or the complainant]." West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. 2008 The Gale Group, Inc.; as found at "libelant" The Free Dictionary. Farlex. Retrieved on 13 May 2018.
  5. The Windows Phone application
  6. NCSU Libraries
  7. "University of Toronto Library". Archived from the original on 2012-01-12. Retrieved 2011-10-25.