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Black's Law Dictionary

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Black's Law Dictionary
Image of the 7th edition
EditorBryan A. Garner
PublisherWest (Thomson Reuters)
Publication date
1891 (1st)
1910 (2nd)
1933 (3rd)
1951 (4th)
1968 (4thR)
1979 (5th)
1990 (6th)
1999 (7th)
2004 (8th)
2009 (9th)
2014 (10th)
2019 (11th)
2024 (12th)
Publication placeUnited States
WebsiteBlack's Law Dictionary

Black's Law Dictionary [BLD] is the most frequently used legal dictionary in the United States.[1] Henry Campbell Black (1860–1927) was the author of the first two editions of the dictionary.



The first edition was published in 1891 by West Publishing, with the full title A Dictionary of Law: containing definitions of the terms and phrases of American and English jurisprudence, ancient and modern, including the principal terms of international constitutional and commercial law, with a collection of legal maxims and numerous select titles from the civil law and other foreign systems. A second edition was published in 1910 as A Law Dictionary.[2] Black died in 1927 and future editions were titled Black's Law Dictionary.

The sixth and earlier editions of the book additionally provided case citations for the term cited, which was viewed by lawyers as its most useful feature, providing a useful starting point with leading cases. The invention of the Internet made legal research easier therefore many state- or circuit-specific case citations and outdated or overruled case citations were omitted from the seventh edition in 1999. The eighth edition introduced a unique system of perpetually updated case citations and cross-references to legal encyclopedias. The current edition is the twelfth, published in 2024.[3]

As many legal terms are derived from a Latin root word, the dictionary provides a pronunciation guide for such terms.[4] In addition, the applicable entries provide pronunciation transcriptions pursuant to those found among North American practitioners of law or medicine.



An online version of the tenth edition can be accessed through the paid Westlaw legal information service, and is available as an application for iOS devices.[5]

The second edition of Black's Law Dictionary, published in 1910, is now in the public domain and is widely reproduced online. References to case law are out-of-date, and that edition of the dictionary omits legal terms that have since come into use and does not reflect contemporary changes in how legal terms are used.[6]



Pocket editions


Non-English editions

  • Blackův právnický slovník. Complete translation of 6th edition into Czech. Victoria Publishing, Prague, 1993. ISBN 80-85605-23-6.
  • Āqāʼī, Bahman. Farhang-i ḥuqūqī-i Bahman: Ingilīsī-Fārsī: bar asās-i Black's law dictionary (1999)[7] (in Fārsī)
  • Muqtadirah-yi Qaumī Zabān. Qānūnī, Angrezī-Urdu lug̲h̲at: Blaiks lāʼ dikshanarī se māk̲h̲ūz (Based on Black's law dictionary) / nigrān, Fatiḥ Muḥammad Malik (2002)[8] ISBN 969-474-084-3. (in Urdu)

See also



  1. ^ "Yale Law School Lillian Goldman Law Library". Archived from the original on 2020-11-24. Retrieved 2022-10-16.
  2. ^ OCLC 33831602
  3. ^ "Black's Law Dictionary".
  4. ^ Macleod, P. R. (1997). Latin in legal writing: an inquiry into the use of Latin in the modern legal world. BCL Rev., 39, 235.
  5. ^ "Black's Law Dictionary App". Westlaw. Thomson Reuters. Retrieved 30 October 2021.
  6. ^ Whisner, Mary (20 February 2009). "Dictionaries Make Strange Bedfellows". Language of the Law: 93–108.
  7. ^ NCSU Libraries
  8. ^ "University of Toronto Library". Archived from the original on 2012-01-12. Retrieved 2011-10-25.