Free Online Dictionary of Law Terms and Legal Definitions     Legal Dictionaries of the Encyclopedia of Law Project
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About the Online Legal Dictionary

The online law dictionary of definitions on the Encyclopedia of Law is a useful legal dictionary for our readers to quickly find information on legal terms. The law dictionary covers terminology of over 32,000 legal words, including translations, legal jargon, and legal abbreviationss (but there are more abbreviations relating the legal fields here). The law dictionary is crammed to the gunnels with useful additional features. Its main features include a comprehensive cross-referencing system including links to the Lawi´s global Encyclopedia of Law, abbreviations and acronyms, descriptions of landmark court decisions, extensive bibliographical entries, and the abundant use of plain English language.

These definitions are written for law students, lawyers and the interested public by an array of law practitioners, officials and academics. To find a term in the dictionary, begin by clicking on a letter in the A-Z list. Alternatively, if you know the spelling of your legal word, you can also use the search box. Type in your word and click the search button to find the definition in the legal dictionary.

Encoding Legal Dictionary

This dictionary of law is filled with natural and authentic example sentences, inspiring definitions and a number of clever features to help students striving to convert meanings into words. This reference’s layout is different from that of traditional legal dictionaries.

The “How to Use” sections of the lexicon are clear and concise, as are such features as the subject classification and the index of abbreviations. It is also useful to find cross-references to the usual Table of Law Reports, the Regnal Years of English Sovereigns as well as the not so usual croos-references to the main Constitutions of the world.

This legal dictionary was created based on a thorough study of various corpora, including second language learners’ corpus. Careful attention was paid to choosing useful and common expressions. This is an “encoding” dictionary, not a “decoding” dictionary. When browsing through this dictionary carefully, the user may find its striking features. It is filled with useful expressions, authentic example sentences, and explanations to help users understand the differences among several expressions and their usage.

Users of the Dictionary may start with the Key Word which they think represents or is related to the ideas they want to express.

Thera are many cross reference which indicates other similar or related expressions. The index in Spanish, arranged in the dictionary alphabetically, helps in trying to think of a good Key Word for spanish readers. The dictionary has a list of headwords at a separate part of this reference, mixed up with the headword and Key Word list.

Frequency of Use

One of the main reasons for wanting the corpus to be representative was so that reliable frequency statistics could be generated and used to aid the lexicographers in making the many linguistic judgments that lie behind the final entry for a word in the printed dictionary. All aspects of lexicography are influenced by frequency, but perhaps the most important in relation to the legal dictionary was that it would attempt to truly follow frequency ordering of definitions in the entries, a feature of dictionaries much vaunted in the past, but rarely carried through in any objective or consistent way, due to the lack of reliable, balanced corpora.

The principle of frequency ordering dictates that the most frequent definition should come first, but it is not a simple operation to decide which meaning is the most frequent. One of the great advances of this legal dictionary is reliably tagged grammatically. If we take the primary activity of lexicography to be the identification of the meanings of words, we can see that a parallel process is going on, with the lexicographer trying to base her analysis of the meanings of the word on frequency while at the same time framing the definitions and deciding on the meaning splits that she will eventually represent in the definitions in the dictionary.

Furthermore, experience has shown that even when working with corpora that are all based on the principle of representativeness, different corpora will present the lexicographer with different frequencies for words and repeated strings of words. There is therefore still a need to temper raw statistical information with intelligence and common sense. The corpus is a massively powerful resource to aid the lexicographer, which must be used judiciously.

Using of Spanish words

In designing this legal dictionary we have ensured that every entry provides as much information as possible for each of the following users and tasks:

  • the native English speaker trying to understand Spanish,
  • the native English speaker trying to write or speak Spanish,
  • the native Spanish speaker trying to understand English,
  • the native Spanish speaker trying to write or speak English.

About the Encyclopedia of Law

More about the Lawi Project and the Encyclopedia of Law: