Research guides



Legal dictionaries define terms used in the area of law. They can be used as a tool to help understand other texts or define words as they relate to legal matters. A selection of online and print dictionaries is listed below.

A legal thesaurus will provide synonyms (words with the same meanings) and antonyms (words with opposite meanings) to legal terms, but may not provide definitions.

For a complete list of the legal dictionaries and thesauri available at Jenkins, see our Legal Dictionaries research guide. To find general, medical, or dual-language dictionaries and thesauri at the library, see our Dictionaries, Thesauri, and More research guide. You may also check our catalog or ask a librarian for assistance.


Findlaw Legal Dictionary Thomson Reuters
Search for a definition or browse legal glossaries.

Glossary United States Courts
Commonly used terms from the U.S. Courts. Dictionary ALM Media Properties, LLC
Search for the definition of a legal term or search the definitions for a specific term.

Nolo's Plain-English Law Dictionary
Plain-English definitions for legal terms. Browse only.

Wex Legal Information Institute at the Cornell Law School 
Free legal dictionary and encyclopedia, collaboratively created and edited by legal experts. 

Black's Law Dictionary

"Well-known enough that it is recognizable simply by the name of its long-deceased creator, Black's is the most widely used law dictionary in the United States today. . . . [I]t has become the predominant American law dictionary." Sarah Yates, Black's Law Dictionary: The Making of an American Standard, 103 Law Libr. J. 175, 175 (2011).

Black's Law Dictionary West/Thomson Reuters
Also available on the library's Westlaw computers.
Library also has previous editions going back to 1891. See a librarian for more information.

Simplified Law Dictionaries

The following dictionaries are intended for users who may be unfamiliar with legal terminology.

Dictionary of Legal Terms: A Simplified Guide to the Language of Law Barron's Educational Series

A Handbook of Basic Law Terms West/Thomson Reuters

Real Life Dictionary of the Law: Taking the Mystery Out of Legal Language General Pub. Group

More Legal Dictionaries

These are some other popular legal dictionaries at Jenkins. Check our catalog or ask a librarian for other suggestions.

Dahl's Law Dictionary Hein
Spanish-English/English-Spanish. An annotated legal dictionary, including authoritative definitions from codes, case law, statutes, legal writing, international treaties and legal opinions from attorneys general.

Law Dictionary Barron's

Modern Dictionary for the Legal Profession Hein

Random House Webster's Dictionary of the Law Random House

The Wolters Kluwer Bouvier Law Dictionary
Library also has previous editions going back to 1839. See a librarian for more information.

Legal Thesauri

Burton's Legal Thesaurus Macmillan
Library also has previous editions in the Historic Collection.

West's Legal Thesaurus/Dictionary: A Resource for the Writer and the Computer Researcher West