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Wisconsin Legal Reference Library
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Legal Reference

Legal Dictionaries and Glossaries

Resources in this category:
   American Bar Association Legal Glossary (American Bar Association Division for Public Education)
"Our glossary defines many legal terms and phrases that are relevant to everyday life."
   Bouvier's Law Dictionary (Wikipedia)
This encyclopedia entry describes this venerable law dictionary, its popularity, and longevity.
   Duhaime's Law Dictionary
If legalese is a foreign tongue to you, Canadian lawyer Lloyd Duhaime defines legal terms in "plain language."
   Eaton County, Michigan Prosecuting Attorney: Common Legal Terms in Michigan (Eaton County, Michigan)
Although its title refers to Michigan and it incorporates Michigan references, this collection of criminal law terms may at least partially answer your questions even if you are in another state or country. Just remember to consider how the concepts defined may be applied where you are.
   Glossary of Court-Related Terms (Minnesota Judicial Branch)
   Glossary of Immigration Terms and Acronyms (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services)
"Immigration law has a number of highly technical terms that may not mean the same thing to the average reader.

To inform USCIS.gov users, we provide this glossary of immigration terms and acronyms."

   Glossary of Legal Terms (Minnesota Judicial Branch, FIith District)
   Glossary of Patent and Trademark Terms (U.S. Patent and Trademark Office)
"Over 375 terms and acronyms [about patents and trademarks] ... - defined in the simplest, nonlegal terms possible - interlinked definitions to learn more - direct links to subject matter area - Context of use provided."
   Glossary of Visa Terms (U.S. Department of State)
   Hmong Legal Glossary (Wisconsin Court System)
"This is believed to be the first Hmong-English legal glossary in the United States. It defines more than 800 common court terms and suggests equivalent White Hmong phrases for many of them."

Intended users include "the courts, law enforcement, social services, researchers, teachers, and state government as a resource for interpreting legal proceedings, translating forms, and training interpreters."

74 pages.

   Merriam Webster Dictionary of Law (Lexis-Nexis)
This search-only dictionary site promises 10,000 definitions. But you have to know the word you want to define (and how to spell it) to use this resource at all, and you may have to be a lawyer to understand the definitions when you do receive them. Example: "absolute fee" is defined as "a fee granted with no restrictions or limitations on alienability. See also fee simple absolute."

If someone had invested the time to make this a browsable dictionary, you might then have a chance to learn the legal meaning of "alienability" or to follow the cross reference to "fee simple absolute." While it could have been done, it has not been done. Use this as a last resort. It has a larger number of entries than others, so you may have to use it.

   Nolo's Everybody's Legal Glossary (Nolo)
"Plain-English definitions for hundreds of legal terms."
   Nonprofit Boards Glossary (BoardSource)
Most terms defined are legal or concern governance. Some are "management-ese" instead of legalese.
   One-L Dictionary (Harvard Law School Library)
"The Library offers the following dictionary to assist new law students during the first few days of their law school experience."
   SBA Glossary (U.S. Small Business Administration)
   Wex by Various (Legal Information Insitute)
Wiki-style "collaboratively-edited legal dictionary and encyclopedia. It is intended for 'law novices'. ... Much of its [initial] content is based on (or directly incorporates) material developed by the LII for use on its website." LII characterizes this as the successor to its "Law about ... " topical pages.

See also:
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