Law dictionary

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File:Legal Dictionaries.jpg
Several English and Russian legal dictionaries

A law dictionary is a dictionary that is designed and compiled to give information about terms used in the field of law.

Types of law dictionaries

Distinctions are made among various types of law dictionaries.[1]

Differentiating factors include:

Quality of law dictionaries

A good bilingual law dictionary needs to take the users' expected language and professional competences into account. The lexicographers therefore must consider the following aspects: dictionary user research, dictionary typology, structure, and presentation of the relevant information. When making a law dictionary, the lexicographers attempt to present the information in such a way that the user is not burdened with excessive lexicographic information costs.[1][2]

Functions of law dictionaries

As pointed out in Nielsen 1994, law dictionaries can serve various functions. The traditional law dictionary with definitions of legal terms serves to help users understand the legal texts they read (a communicative function) or to acquire knowledge about legal matters independent of any text (a cognitive function) – such law dictionaries are usually monolingual. Bilingual law dictionaries may also serve a variety of functions. First, they may have entry words in one language and definitions in another language – these dictionaries give help to understand legal texts, usually written in a foreign language, and to acquire knowledge, usually about a foreign legal system. Second, bilingual law dictionaries with entry words in one language and equivalents in another language provide help to translate legal texts, into or from a foreign language, and sometimes also to produce legal texts, usually in a foreign language.[1]


With the advance of technology, the legal dictionary has made its way onto the Internet and smartphones. Law students and litigants can now look up the meaning of legal terms in a split second.[3]

Legal terminology textbook

Unlike a law dictionary, which arranges and defines legal words and phrases individually and in alphabetical order, a legal terminology textbook arranges and defines legal words and phrases in groups and by topic. As a result, a student or other person interested in understanding an array of related legal words and phrases may prefer to use a legal terminology textbook instead[2]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  3. See, e.g., Glossary of legal terms at the New York Courts website. Accessded March 28, 2013.

External links