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Garner's Dictionary of Legal Usage Hardcover – July 1, 2011

ISBN-13: 978-0195384208 ISBN-10: 0195384202 Edition: 3rd

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Garner's Dictionary of Legal Usage + Garner's Modern American Usage + The Elements of Legal Style
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 1032 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 3 edition (July 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195384202
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195384208
  • Product Dimensions: 10.3 x 7.4 x 2.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #116,048 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

In this dictionary of American (and some British) legal usage, attorney Garner provides a "charted course" through legal language, advising on hundreds of usage problems in legal writing. Words, phrases, and a few topics are arranged alphabetically and defined or discussed with distinctions between similar terms carefully drawn. Problems in phraseology, diction, grammar, and style are dealt with and entries aptly illustrated from cases, statutes, etc. This volume supplements standard law dictionaries by adding to definitions and including terms not found. It is the most extensive resource available for legal word usage. Its strengths are depth in explanations, careful distinctions, and engaging style. A solid contribution to the improvement of legal writing, highly recommended for larger libraries and all libraries with law or law-related emphases. Mary Jane Brustman, SUNY at Albany Libs.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

The well-received Dictionary of Modern Legal Usage (1987) has been updated in this superior second edition. This dictionary of law usage and etymology, not just definitions, is written in a clear and concise style. The number of entries has almost doubled from the first edition, and additional illustrative quotations have been added with complete citations. New terms in this edition include remote relatives, reverse discrimination, gray mail, shadow jury, lynch law, and misconduct in the office.

The entries are arranged alphabetically, interspersed with brief essays on issues of style, grammar and usage, legal lexicology, word formation, and punctuation. The initial words of these essays are capitalized to set them apart. So, for example, there is both a definition of forbid, forbade, forbidden with four quotations from cases or other law books and a discussion of forbidden words and phrases with a list of useless words--irregardless, wheresoever, etc.

It is unfortunate that the introduction from the first edition was not reprinted in the new volume since it describes the purposes of the book--perhaps the most important is "to make legal writers sensitive to the aesthetic possibilities of their prose, to goad them into thinking more acutely about what works in a given context, and what does not." Even libraries that have the first edition should consider this new one, which is highly recommended for any law collection in public or academic libraries. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


More About the Author

Bryan Garner is the award-winning author or editor of more than 20 books. He is a prolific lecturer, having taught more than 2,500 writing workshops since the 1991 founding of his company, LawProse, Inc. His works include Garner on Language and Writing and Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges, co-written with Justice Antonin Scalia. Garner has served as editor-in-chief of Black's Law Dictionary since 1995, and he is the author of the grammar-and-usage chapter in the venerable Chicago Manual of Style.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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See all 25 customer reviews
As a lawyer or paralegal, do yourself a favor and buy this book.
L. Thacker
Modern legal Usage gives the modern legal writer confidence to dispense with legalese and write with precision.
Jesse Langel
Even non-legal terms are covered in a way more useful to legal writing.
JD

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Wendy Kaplan on September 7, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As an editor of legal newsletters, I do not know what I would do without this absolutely necessary tool of the trade. Not only do I, a non-attorney, find it indispensible, but my colleagues who are members of the Bar are constantly borrowing my copy "just to check." And whatever they, or I, am checking--it's in there.
Garner has a way of condensing solid and often very intricate information into a few paragraphs so succinct, and so informative, that anyone can understand. When one is rushing against a deadline, editing for and about attorneys and the law, reaching for Garner often makes the difference.
I would give up my dictionary before I would part with this book, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. Garner has earned his place in the annals of legal writing and editing, and I hold him--and this book--in the highest esteem.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Zeldock on August 21, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Garner should be carried shoulder-high for this work. Much expanded beyond the first edition, it provides intelligent, informed guidance on both individual terms and general topics. What does it really mean to "beg the question"? Is "struck" preferable to "stricken"? What's the plural of "cestui que trust"? Garner does not simply give thumbs up or down; he explains the pros and cons of various usages, with an outlook that is literate and, above all, practical. Time after time I find that he has anticipated my questions and has answered them with just the right level of detail.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By L. Thacker on June 15, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is, by far, the single best resource on legal usage one can buy. I never cease to be amazed at how often I pull this book off of my shelf to find it giving me a clear and accurate answer to a usage question. I purchased this book several years ago after attending one of Garner's legal writing seminars. That seminar and this book have dramatically improved my legal writing skills. Those two tools positively influence my writing every single day. If you follow Garner's advice and guidance, you will eliminate deadening and condescending legalese from your legal writing and replace it with clear and concise prose. My clients appreciate receiving contracts that are actually readable and my contracts are less frequently subject to alternative interpretations because ambiguities are largely eliminated. As a lawyer or paralegal, do yourself a favor and buy this book. Better yet, buy this book and take Garner's Advanced Legal Drafting seminar. You won't regret it.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Wayne Schiess on April 15, 2002
Format: Hardcover
If you have a question about a legal word or about legal writing, look it up here. You'll find the answer, and you're also likely to find a lively and intelligent discussion on the point. But the best thing about DMLU2 is that it's correct. So use it for back-up when you need to be right. Every lawyer should have it.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 29, 2002
Format: Paperback
A J.D., admission to the bar, and this book should be the three requirements for any individual to practice law. The title, "A Dictionary of Modern Legal Usage," is absolutely appropriate in that this book does not merely serve as an alternative to Black's to find the definition of a word or phrase. Rather, the book's emphasis is on appropriate usage. It is an enjoyable enough read that one might end up reading it from cover to cover if one isn't careful. I recommend it highly.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Phillip Taylor on August 22, 2011
Format: Hardcover
THIRD EDITION

An appreciation by Phillip Taylor MBE and Elizabeth Taylor of Richmond Green Chambers

It is ironic, is it not, that `legal language' quite often seems opaque and all too often is so; unfortunate too, as the law is based on words, forms of words, meanings of words and their interpretation, connotation and usage. One wonders how often cases have been initiated, then won or lost because someone or other has misconstrued or misinterpreted some word or other - or some phrase or other.

If you're a lawyer, legal scholar, student, or generally someone who is fascinated by the power of language and who seeks to speak and write with clarity, precision and force, Garner's Dictionary of Legal Usage is the resource for you. Here it is from the Oxford University Press in a new enlarged and updated third edition and a remarkable work of lexicography it is.

But it's not just a dictionary. It also functions as an authoritative guide to style, grammar and usage. As you look up each word, you are offered not just a definition, but a discussion of its significance, its origins, indeed all its aspects pertaining to law, complete with meticulously cited sources.

Prolifically and painstakingly (and often entertainingly) the learned editor, Bryan A Garner, internationally acknowledged as a top authority on legal usage, seeks to blow away the cobwebs of complexity and confusion which may surround any number of terms.

`Testatorial, testorial, testatory' is an example. What's the difference? What is the most common form? Is there a reference to the OED? Look these up if you wish to know. You'll find them just before the word `testatrix', which the editor quite rightly has a down on. `This word is useless,' he growls.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By JD on August 31, 2005
Format: Paperback
I'm starting my second year of law school. I got this book near the end of my first year, and it proved to be an invaluable tool for editing journals and working for law firms over the summer. I wish I had this earlier.

As a side note, I would strongly recommend this book over Garner's American Usage if you are in a legal field. Even non-legal terms are covered in a way more useful to legal writing.
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