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Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law [Kindle Edition]

Merriam-Webster Inc.
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)

Digital List Price: $15.95 What's this?
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Kindle Edition $9.99  
Leather Bound --  
Paperback $11.98  
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Book Description

A convenient, comprehensive guide to the language of law for everyone from the homeowner to the legal professional. Includes more than 10,000 legal words and phrases. Many updated entries come from recent events that propelled legal terms into our daily lives, from the financial meltdown to the growth of the Internet. Includes pronunciations, example phrases and quotations, and frequent supplementary notes. Special sections on the judicial system, important legal cases, government agencies, and historic laws.

Editorial Reviews Review

To the ordinary person, who hasn't spent three years grinding through law school, legalese gets its point across as clearly and effortlessly as a dose of ancient Greek. Right up there with medical lingo, legal jargon confuses and alienates folks, makes them feel stupid and ill at ease. A translation or two, however, can go a long way toward clearing the legal air. With concise and sensible definitions, Merriam Webster's Dictionary of Law converts a lease, will, or summons into standard English, and removes the intimidation factor from what is, basically, an effort at reliable communication. Been wondering about tortfeasors and arrears, peculation and naked promises, John Doe summonses and Terry stops? From ABA (American Bar Association) to Zone of Privacy ("an area or aspect of life that is held to be protected from intrusion by a specific constitutional guarantee"), the dictionary defines and explains 10,000 legal terms, allowing a ready grasp of laws, statutes, and legal procedures to anyone who knows how to crack open a dictionary.

Despite the title, the book is more than a mere dictionary. There's a chapter explaining the United States judicial system, a chapter discussing important legal cases, and another summarizing important laws. There's also a section on important legal agencies in the U.S., followed by the full Constitution of the United States, making this a useful family legal reference, adding clarity to news reports, assisting with homework assignments, simplifying potentially scary legal actions, and making government agencies, civil rights, and legal options less daunting and more accessible. --Stephanie Gold

About the Author

The Merriam brothers desired a continuity of editorship that would link Noah Webster's efforts with their own editions, so they selected Chauncey A. Goodrich, Webster's son-in-law and literary heir, who had been trained in lexicography by Webster himself, to be their editor in chief. Webster's son William also served as an editor of that first Merriam-Webster dictionary, which was published on September 24, 1847.

Although Webster's work was honored, his big dictionaries had never sold well. The 1828 edition was priced at a whopping $20; in 13 years its 2,500 copies had not sold out. Similarly, the 1841 edition, only slightly more affordable at $15, moved slowly. Assuming that a lower price would increase sales, the Merriams introduced the 1847 edition at $6, and although Webster's heirs initially questioned this move, extraordinary sales that brought them $250,000 in royalties over the ensuing 25 years convinced them that the Merriams' decision had been abundantly sound.

The first Merriam-Webster dictionary was greeted with wide acclaim. President James K. Polk, General Zachary Taylor (hero of the Mexican War and later president himself), 31 U.S. senators, and other prominent people hailed it unreservedly. In 1850 its acceptance as a resource for students began when Massachusetts ordered a copy for every school and New York placed a similar order for 10,000 copies to be used in schools throughout the state. Eventually school use would spread throughout the country. In becoming America's most trusted authority on the English language, Merriam-Webster dictionaries had taken on a role of public responsibility demanded of few other publishing companies. 

Product Details

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars good basic law dictionary April 2, 2007
By mike
i compared this to black's law dictionary when i bought this particular dictionary. i found that the definitions were just as comprehensive as the black's and that layout was easier to understand. the price is also big plus since it is half the cost of the blacks
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Keep this Handy October 14, 2007
I keep this legal dictionary at my right hand on my desk and refer to it almost daily. It is a perferct legal dictionary for non-lawyers.

I'm not a lawyer, but have been involved with litigation as a plaintiff and am training as an expert witness. Sometimes it's helpful to know what "voir dire" and "subpoena duces tecum" mean. Even for somebody who's studied Latin and French, lawyers sometimes pronounce things differently than you'd expect - and this dictionary has helped.

I also appreciate having a copy of the constitution in the back, as well as a guide to the judicial system. Included is a bare-bones outline of criminal and civil procedure which will be helpful for the layperson. The appendix also has lists of important cases and important laws (can you remember Marbury vs. Madison from high school civics?).

I know that Black's Law Dictionary, Eighth Edition (Black's Law Dictionary (Standard Edition)) is the standard, but you can't beat this dictionary for its price, size, and coverage.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Useful June 12, 2008
I had planned on buying "Black's Law Dictionary", but the review of this dictionary made me think twice. I did a comparison of some key words and phrases between these two and several others. This one was the winner.

The price was not an object, but it sure is nice to pocket the extra money. This dictionary had similar definitions, but slightly more readable. What was the tipping point were the additional description of how they are used -- not just the definition, but was it means and some historical usages.

The extras at the back are nice. They will probably be more useful than I had suspected, especially the summaries of important Supreme Court cases.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Difficult look-up on Kindle Fire August 26, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I purchased this for my Kindle Fire based on the good reviews I've seen on Amazon. From a content standpoint, it seems to have everything and more that I've been looking for. However, like the New Oxford American Dictionary supplied with the Kindle Fire, I haven't found an easy way to look up a definition. If you use the "search" function, a slow global search of the entire Law Dictionary is initiated. For example, a search for "probate" returns all mentions of 'probate' throughout the dictionary. If you are lucky enough to wind up on a page that has a link to the actual term, then clicking on the link will take you right to it. Some terms are listed alphabetically in the "list of group entries" section of the book. However they are not clickable links. On the Kindle Fire, pressing and holding over one of these terms does pull up it's definition, not from the Law Dictionary but instead from the New Oxford dictionary built into the Kindle. It's odd that looking a term up in the Law Dictionary returns a definition from the standard dictionary. Maybe I'm asking too much from an eBook, but it seems that one of the primary functions of an electronic dictionary is its ability to provide easy and reliable look-up.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good for Kindle January 12, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
I sampled three popular law dictionaries for Kindle (1) Law Dictionary, (Mass Market) 6th Ed. (Barron's Legal Guides) , (2) Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law, and (3) Nolo's Plain-English Law Dictionary. By far, the best I'd seen is Barron's. Among other things, instant search is enabled, and there are hotlinks to related terms. Webster's is next (e.g it's got hotlinks, but shows only one definition per page). Nolo is the worst; it's like all they did was convert the text. Try before you buy.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A warning to Kindle buyers March 11, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
As a legal dictionary, it is fine -- does everything I need it to do.

However, as a Kindle book, it looses it's value because it is impossible to search. A HUGE net efficiency loss. With a real dictionary you can approximate the location of a word in the alphabet then quickly scan for the bolded word you want. The Kindle version shows a new definition on a new page, thus you must scan each and every page and wait for each and every page to load to narrow down to the word you want.

For example, I spend about 30 seconds screwing with page scroll to find the letter "I" then another 2-5 minutes to narrow down to "In rem."

Any other reference I have--for example Garner's Legal Usage--I can locate a word in under a minute.

Amazon, please add a way to Index and search definitions in any dictionary you offer.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Merriam Webster law dictionary February 5, 2011
By Tigress
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This dictionary is more concise and easy to understand for a beginning law student. Black's seem to assume you already know everything and does not cover some of the simple terms I look for. I'm sure a complete edition of Blacks would be great i just don't have that yet.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kindle in the Court April 22, 2012
By Mike D
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This has proved most useful to me in my legal practice. The dictionary is recognized as among the most authoritative in the world. My Kindle now spends a lot of time in my advocate's bag (in Court) and has attracted a lot of attention from my colleagues.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Law Terms Made Easy.
A wonderful addition to any library especially those that are interested in knowing legal terminology. Very informative and made easy for a lay person to understand.
Published 1 day ago by Atlachinolli Coxcatl Tezcacoatl
4.0 out of 5 stars Good to look up words with no hassles
I enjoy the dictionary to look up unfamiliar words. Unlike other apps you do not freeze or cannot go back to your site.
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Was received on time and was much more than I expected.
Published 1 month ago by Thomas W. McGarity
1.0 out of 5 stars Get a real book. It's faster.
I thought I would be able to type words to search. You can't. You have to thumb through page after page. Not handy.
Published 2 months ago by JoAnne
5.0 out of 5 stars helpful
its worth it
Published 3 months ago by Jacqueline Billington
5.0 out of 5 stars just what I needed
Helps to know legal jargon
Published 7 months ago by Rabbit
5.0 out of 5 stars Good book!!
Good book to have when the internet is not available!! Better than the other law dictionaries out there! Don't buy the other ones
Published 7 months ago by Mr. Patrick M. Mckinnie
3.0 out of 5 stars Get a better one
I got this before I showed up at law school and before I consulted with professors or fellow law students. Most of them recommend Black's Law Dictionary instead of this one. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars good reference.
This law dictionary is complete, great for those who are students or just in need of a legal dictionary. I used it in my paralegal class and found more than enough information. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Aeneas2989
5.0 out of 5 stars I love this Dictionary !!! It works on B&W Kindles, like Keyboard ...
For such price, this Dictionary of Law is pretty good.
It works great on my Kindle Keyboard.
With Dictionary, I don't need to spend more money in the Black's Dictionary.
Published 11 months ago by Arizonian
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