Legal Definition and Related Resources of Interpretation

Meaning of Interpretation

finding out or collecting the intention of a writer, either from his words or from other conjectures or from both. Interpretation may be literal, which is where one collects the intention from the words used only; or rational, where the words do not express the intention perfectly but either exist or fall short of it, so that the meaning has to be collected from probable or rational conjectures only; and mixed where the words, though they do not express the intention when rightly understood, or are in themselves of doubtful meaning, and one is forced to have recourse to conjectures to find out in what sense they are used. See Tallman v Tollman, 23 N. Y.S. 734, 3 Misc. 465.

Interpretation Alternative Definition

The act of finding out the true sense of any form of words that is, the sense which their author intended to convey and of enabling others to derive from them the same idea which the author intended to convey. 14 How. Pr. R. (N. Y.) 272. The discovery and representation of the true meaning of any signs used to convey ideas. Lieber, Leg. & Pol. Herm. “Construction” is sometimes used as a synonym (Jones, Const, p. 3), though it has been said that “construction” is the broader term, and includes also the legal effect (2 Pars. Cont. 491, note a). The “true meaning” of any signs is that meaning which those who used them were desirous of expressing. A perspn adopting or sanctioning them ”uses” them as well as their immediate author. Both parties to an agreement equally make use of the signs deplaratory of that agreement, though one only is the originator, and the other may be entirely passive. The most common signs used to convey ideas are words. When there is a contradiction in signs intended to agree, resort must be had to construction, that is, the drawing of conclusions from the given signs, respecting ideas which they do not express.
(1) Close interpretation (interpretatio restncta) is adopted if just reasons, connected with the formation and character of the text, induce us to take the words in their narrowest meaning. This species of interpretation has generally been called “literal,” but the term is inadmissible. Lieber, Leg. & Pol. Herm. 66.
(2) Extensive interpretation (interpreUvtio extensiva, called, also, “liberal interpretation”) adopts a more comprehensive signification of the word.
(3) Extravagant interpretation (interpretatio excedens) is that which substitutes a meaning evidently beyond the true one. It is therefore not genuine interpretation.
(4) Free or unrestricted interpretation (interpretatio soluta) proceeds simply on the general principles of interpretation in good faith, not bound by any specific or superior principle
(5) Limited or restricted interpretation (interpretatio limitata) is when we are influenced by other principles than the strictly hermeneutic ones. Emesti, Inst. Interp.
(6) Predestined interpretation (interpretatio predestinata) takes place if the interpreter, laboring under a strong bias of mind, makes the text subservient to his preconceived views or desires. This includes artful interpretation (interpretatio vafer), by which the interpreter seeks to give a meaning to the text other than the one he knows to have been intended. The civilians divide interpretation into:
(1) Authentic (interpretatio authentiea), which proceeds from the author himself.
(2) Usual (interpretatio nsualis), when the interpretation is on the ground of usage.
(3) Doctrinal (interpretatio doctrinalis) , when made agreeably to rules of science. Doctrinal interpretation is subdivided into extensive, restrictive, and declaratory, extensive, whenever the reason of a proposition has a broader sense than its terms, and it is consequently applied to a case which had not been explained; restrictive, when the expressions have a greater latitude than the reasons; and declaratory, when the reasons and terms agree, but it is necessary to settle the meaning of some term or terms to make the sense complete.

Related Entries of Interpretation in the Encyclopedia of Law Project

Browse or run a search for Interpretation in the American Encyclopedia of Law, the Asian Encyclopedia of Law, the European Encyclopedia of Law, the UK Encyclopedia of Law or the Latin American and Spanish Encyclopedia of Law.

Interpretation in Historical Law

You might be interested in the historical meaning of this term. Browse or search for Interpretation in Historical Law in the Encyclopedia of Law.

Legal Abbreviations and Acronyms

Search for legal acronyms and/or abbreviations containing Interpretation in the Legal Abbreviations and Acronyms Dictionary.

Related Legal Terms

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Mentioned in these terms

, Bequeath, Canons Of Construction, Compensate, Compensation, Equal Protection Of The Laws, Essence, Federal Question, Gloss, Implied Terms, Include, Incorporation By Reference, Major Dispute, Minor Dispute, Ought, Preamble, Shall.


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Related topics Interpretation in the World Encyclopedia of Law


This definition of Interpretation is based on the The Cyclopedic Law Dictionary . This entry needs to be proofread.

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Interpretation in Law Enforcement

Main Entry: Law Enforcement in the Legal Dictionary. This section provides, in the context of Law Enforcement, a partial definition of interpretation.


See Also

  • Law Enforcement Officer
  • Police Work
  • Law Enforcement Agency

Further Reading

Meaning of Interpretation in Law

Difference between the terms: Construction v. Interpretation

These terms are commonly used interchangeably but “construction” is a term of wider scope than “interpretation.” “Interpretation” is only concerned with the meaning of the subject matter. “Construction” may also explain the legal effects and consequences of the subject matter. Interpretation precedes construction, but stops at the written text. A rule of construction may govern the effect of an ascertained intention or may govern in the absence of any intention (Black’s Law Dictionary (6th Ed.), p. 818).



See Also

  • Statutes
  • construction
  • Legislation



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