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Legal Dictionaries on the Web

  • Butterworth's Legal Words Dictionary. "This small dictionary is designed as a quick point of reference for those wanting a clear explanation of the most common legal terms."

  • Duhaime's Law Dictionary. If legalese is a foreign tongue to you, Canadian lawyer Lloyd Duhaime defines legal terms in "plain language".

  • Lawyers.com Merriam Webster Dictionary of Law. This search-only dictionary site promises 10,000 definitions. But you have to know the word you want to define (and how to spell it) to use this resource at all, and you may have to be a lawyer to understand the definitions when you do receive them. Example: "absolute fee" is defined as "a fee granted with no restrictions or limitations on alienability. See also fee simple absolute."

    If someone had invested the time to make this a browsable dictionary, you might then have a chance to learn the legal meaning of "alienability" or to follow the cross reference to "fee simple absolute." While it could easily have been done, it has not been done. Use this as a last resort. It has a larger number of entries than others, so you may have to use it.

  • FindLaw Legal Dictionary suffers from the same problems because it too is Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law with a search form, no browsing, and more or less inscrutable definitions if you haven't already gone to law school. (If you did, you already have a law dictionary!) Another last resort destination.

  • Law.com Legal Dictionary.

  • XRefer is an integrated collection of ready-reference sources, including dictionaries. One such included resource is A Dictionary of Law published by Oxford University Press. So if you enter a legal term, you should see results from this legal dictionary at the top of your results list.

  • International Law Dictionary & Directory. From Professor Ray August, who teaches in the College of Business and Economics at Washington State University in Pullman, Washington.

  • Eaton County, Michigan Prosecuting Attorney: Common Legal Terms in Michigan. Although its title refers to Michigan and it incorporates Michigan references, this collection of criminal law terms may at least partially answer your questions even if you are in another state or country. Just remember to consider how the concepts defined may be applied where you are.

  • Minnesota Supreme Court Legal Glossary.

  • See also OneLook Dictionaries. Lists hundreds of online dictionaries and provides meta-search.

  • See also Merriam-Webster's general web dictionary and thesaurus.


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