Legal Dictionaries

Updated Oct. 4, 2010.
Prepared by Mary Whisner & Cheryl Nyberg

The Gallagher Law Library has many legal and foreign-language dictionaries. Additional dictionaries are available on LexisNexis and Westlaw (for UW Law School students who have passwords and IDs) and on the Internet.

See also Reference Sources on General and Legal Writing in the Gallagher Law Library.

U.S. Legal Dictionaries

Black's Law Dictionary (9th ed. 2009) is the most frequently used U.S. legal dictionary. KF156.B53 2009 at Reference Area dictionary stands & Reference Office. Westlaw: BLACKS

Modern Dictionary for the Legal Profession, 3d ed. KF156.R42 2001 at Reference Area LexisNexis: MDLP

Garner, A Dictionary of Modern Legal Usage, 2d ed. KF156.G367 1995 at Reference Office LexisNexis: DMLU. Offers guidance for writers (and speakers) who want to use language well.

Ballentine's Law Dictionary, 3d ed. KF156.B3 1969 at Reference Area & Classified Stacks. LexisNexis: BTINES

The Law Dictionary. LexisNexis: LAWDIC

Merriam Webster's Dictionary of Law (1996) is on Findlaw.

Oran's Dictionary of the Law, 4th ed. KF156.O7 2008 at Reference Area

Cornell's Legal Information Institute Wex is an online legal dictionary and encyclopedia.

Dean's Law Dictionary is an online-only dictionary.

Other general legal dictionaries can be found by searching the Law Library's catalog by subject: Law--United States--Dictionaries.

Introductory or Aimed at Nonlawyers

Washington Courts, A Guide to Terms Used in Washington Courts

U.S. Courts, Commonly Used Terms

WashingtonLawHelp includes a glossary compiled by the Northwest Justice Project.

Real Life Dictionary of the Law

Nolo's Everybody's Legal Dictionary

1001 Legal Words You Need to Know, KF156.A113 2003 at Classified Stacks

Harvard Law Library's One-L Dictionary is a list of basic terms with straightforward definitions aimed at beginning law students.

Glossary of Terms Used in Legal Research (from Fundamentals of Legal Research)

DivorceSource Dictionary


Massachusetts Divorce Law Dictionary



Subject Title Call Number & Location
International law Parry & Grant Encylopaedic Dictionary of International Law, 2d ed. KZ1161.P37 2004 at Reference Area
Dictionary of International & Comparative Law, 3d ed. KZ1161.F69 2003 at Reference Area
International Law: A Dictionary KZ1161.B63 2005 at Reference Area
Beck's Law Dictionary: A Compendium of International Law Terms and Phrases  
Law & economics, legal theory A Dictionary of Legal Theory K204.B59 2004 at Classified Stacks
The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics and the Law K487.E3 N49 1998 at Classified Stacks
Medical AmJur Proof of Facts 3d. Attorney's Illustrated Medical Dictionary KF8933.A45 2002 at Reference Area
Stedman's Medical Dictionary, 25th ed. R121.S8 1990 at Reference Area
Westlaw: STEDMANS (27th ed.)
Patents Modern Patent Law Precedent, 5th ed. KF3109.A35 2003 at Classified Stacks
USPTO Patent and Trademark Glossary  
Tax West's Tax Law Dictionary KF6287.S64 at Reference Area
WG & L Tax Dictionary KF6287.W478 2000 at Classified Stacks


Bilingual & Multilingual Legal Dictionaries

The following list identifies some, but not all, bilingual and multilingual legal dictionaries available at the Gallagher Law Library. For more information, see the language section of the Gallagher guide on Research in Foreign & Comparative Law.

To find more bilingual dictionaries, search the Law Library catalog for the language and "dictionaries." For example, search for Subject Heading: german language dictionaries english.

 English / Call Number & Location

several titles at K52.C5 at Reference Area
PL1455.A33 2003 at Reference Area
English/Chinese Glossary of Legal Terms
French K52.F7D34 1995 at Reference Area & LexisNexis: FRDAHL
German K52.G4B37 1947 at Classified Stacks
Japanese several titles at K52.J3 at Reference Area & Classified Stacks
Korean K52.K6K6 1996 at Reference Area
Multilingual / Polyglot West's Law and Commercial Dictionary in Five Languages. K54.W47 1985 at Reference Office
Portugese K52.P67G69 1994 at Classified Stacks
Russian K52.R8D43 1995 at Classified Stacks
Spanish K52.S7R65 1992 at Staff Office
K52.S6C33 1991 at Reference Area
LexisNexis: SPDAHL













Legal Dictionaries from Non-U.S. Jurisdictions

Duhaime's Legal Dictionary (Canada)

European Commission (EU), Glossary

Her Majesty's Courts Service (UK), HMCS Legal Terms

Canadian Insolvency Dictionary

Abbreviations & Acronyms

Legal & Government

Acronyms and Abbreviations, adapted from the Washington Legal Researcher's Deskbook 3d.

Bieber's Dictionary of Legal Abbreviations (5th ed. 2001). KF246.B46 2001 at Reference Area & Reference Office. LexisNexis: BIEBLA

Bluebook Abbreviations of Law Review Titles from the Current Index to Legal Periodicals.

U.S. Government: Commonly Used Abbreviations and Acronyms from the U.S. Government Manual.

Foreign & International

Cardiff Index to Legal Abbreviations, from Cardiff University Law Library

World Dictionary of Legal Abbreviations. K85.K3 1991 at Reference Office & Classified Stacks


General & Nonlegal Dictionaries

American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 4th ed. PE 1625.A54 2000 at Reference Office & Bartleby

Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 10th ed. PE1628.M36 1995 at Reference Area

Oxford English Dictionary (1933). PE1625.O87 1933 at Reference Area

Webster's New Third International Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged. PE1625.W36 1981 at Reference Area & Reference Office

Language Dictionaries links to many online English and foreign language dictionaries; some dictionaries are UW Restricted.

Wiktionary, a multi-lingual dictionary from Wikipedia.


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