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Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law Kindle Edition

48 customer reviews

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Length: 634 pages

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com 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

  • File Size: 1652 KB
  • Print Length: 634 pages
  • Publication Date: April 25, 2011
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004XVZA3Y
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #116,679 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By mike on April 2, 2007
Format: Paperback
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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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By J. Moore VINE VOICE on October 14, 2007
Format: Paperback
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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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Randy Given on June 12, 2008
Format: Paperback
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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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By tourer99 on 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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Leo Romero on 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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Patrick Kilgore on 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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Tigress on February 5, 2011
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By susie homemaker on March 5, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am getting into the paralegal field and needed to become aware of some new terms. This has helped me out very well. I could have gone online to find the new terms but this is much handier to have. I am not sure of how it compares to other law dictionaries yet but I think every paralegal should have one.
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