Black's Law Dictionary
Learn more about Black's Law Dictionary
Black's Law Dictionary is the definitive law dictionary for the law of the United States. It was founded by Henry Campbell Black. It has been cited as legal authority in many Supreme Court cases (see Secondary authority). The latest editions, including abridged and pocket versions, are useful starting points for the layman or student when faced with an unfamiliar legal word. It is the reference of choice for definitions in legal briefs and court opinions.
The first edition was published in 1891, and the second edition in 1910--long before the first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary was completed, in 1928. The sixth and earlier editions of the book also provided case citations for the term cited, which some lawyers view as its most useful feature, providing a useful starting point with leading cases. The Internet made legal research easier than it ever had been, so many state- or circuit-specific case citations and outdated or overruled case citations were dropped from the seventh edition 1999. The eighth edition introduced a unique system of perpetually updated case citations and cross-references to legal encyclopedias.
Because many legal terms are derived from a Latin root word, the Dictionary gives a pronunciation guide for such terms. In addition, the applicable entries provide pronunciation transcriptions pursuant to those found among North American practitioners of law or medicine.
 Bibliographic entries
- Bryan A. Garner, editor, Black's Law Dictionary 8th ed, (West Group, 2004) ISBN 0-314-15199-0.
- Bryan A. Garner, editor, Black's Law Dictionary 7th ed, (West Group, 1999) ISBN 0-314-22864-0.
- Bryan A. Garner, editor, Black's Law Dictionary 3d pocket ed. (West Group, 2006) ISBN 0-314-15862-6.
An online version of the latest edition can be accessed through the paid Westlaw legal information service. The second edition of Black's Law Dictionary (1910) is now in the public domain. The first edition (1891) has been reprinted by the Law Book Exchange ISBN 0-9630106-0-3, as well as the second edition, ISBN 1-886363-10-2. Oddly, an online version of either edition proves difficult to come by, although first and second editions are available on the same CD from Archive CD Books USA. A web search may locate broken links which would suggest that online versions were once prevalent, but have since been removed. Project Gutenberg does not have Black's Law Dictionary available either.