Dictionary of Law
a fortiori :: (ah-for-she-ory) prep. Latin for "with even strong ... rother Cain certainly is too young.
a priori assumption :: (ah-pree-ory) n. from Latin, an assumption that is ... when the reality is not so certain.
a.k.a. :: prep. abbreviation for "also known as" when someon ... nodgrass, a.k.a. "Snuffy the Snod."
ab initio :: prep. lawyer Latin for "from the start," as "it wa ... tart," as "it was legal ab initio."
abandon :: v. to intentionally and permanently give up, surre ... lso: abandoned property abandonment
abandoned property :: n. property left behind (often by a tenant) intent ... -use. See also: abandon abandonment
abandonment :: n. the act of intentionally and permanently giving ... : abandon abandoned property patent
abate :: v. to do away with a problem, such as a public or ... ty septic tank. See also: abatement
abatement :: n. 1) the removal of a problem which is against pu ... eneficiary in full. See also: abate
abduction :: n. the criminal taking away of a person by persuas ... g of children. See also: kidnapping
abet :: v. to help someone commit a crime, including helpi ... n the crime. See also: aid and abet
abeyance :: 1) n. when the owner- ship of property has not bee ... 2) legal jargon for "undetermined."
able-bodied :: adj. physically capable of working at a job or in ... of paying alimony or child support.
abortion :: n. the termination of pregnancy by various means, ... ed abortion continue in the future.
abrogate :: v. to annul or repeal a law or pass legislation th ... ons of a contract. See also: repeal
abscond :: v. 1) traditionally to leave a jurisdiction (where ... as in "he absconded with the loot."
absolute :: adj. complete, and without condition. ... j. complete, and without condition.
abstention doctrine :: n. when the Supreme Court refuses to exercise its ... being appealed from a state court.
abstract :: n. in general, a summary of a record or document, ... tract of judgment abstract of title
abstract of judgment :: n. a written summary of a judgment which states ho ... aying the debt. See also: levy lien
abstract of title :: n. the written report on a title search which show ... e also: chain of title title report
abuse of discretion :: n. a polite way of saying a trial judge has made s ... partner's realistic ability to pay.
abuse of process :: n. the use of legal process by illegal, malicious, ... ly correct the error and apologize.
abut :: v. when two parcels of real property touch each ot ... of real property touch each other.
acceleration :: n. 1) speeding up the time when there is vesting ( ... See also: acceleration clause vest
acceleration clause :: n. a provision in a contract or promissory note th ... . See also: acceleration assumption
accept :: v. to receive something with approval and intentio ... ervice" (delivery) of legal papers.
acceptance :: n. 1) receiving something from another with the in ... ered into. See also: contract offer
acceptance of service :: n. agreement by a defendant (or his/her attorney) ... o accept service. See also: service
access :: n. 1) in real estate the right and ability to get ... See also: DNA egress paternity suit
accessory :: n. a second-string player who helps in the commiss ... responsible. See also: aid and abet
accommodation :: n. 1) a favor done without compensation (pay or co ... ke a deal work. See also: guarantor
accomplice :: n. someone who assists in the commission of a crim ... cipal criminal. See also: accessory
accord and satisfaction :: n. an agreement to accept less than is legally due ... h" practicality. See also: novation
account stated :: n. a statement between a creditor or the person to ... ending on the state. See also: debt
accounts payable :: n. bills that are owed. See also: debt ... bills that are owed. See also: debt
accounts receivable :: n. the amounts of money due or owed to a business ... sidering the chances of collection.
accretion :: n. 1) in real estate, the increase of the actual l ... cted event. See also: probate trust
accrue :: v. 1) growing or adding to, such as interest on a ... the contract (anticipatory breach).
accusation :: n. 1) in legal terms accusation means officially c ... im of wrongdoing by another person.
accused :: n. a person charged with a crime. ... n. a person charged with a crime.
acknowledge :: v. 1) generally to admit something, whether bad, g ... recording. See also: acknowledgment
acknowledgment :: n. the section at the end of a document where a no ... me leases and various other papers.
acquit :: v. what a jury or judge sitting without a jury doe ... ndant not guilty. See also: verdict
acquittal :: n. what an accused criminal defendant receives if ... se) of not guilty. See also: acquit
act :: 1) n. in general, any action by a person. 2) n. a ... ct on your motion for a new trial."
act of God :: n. a natural catastrophe which no one can prevent ... atural event. God knows the answer!
action :: n. a lawsuit in which one party (or parties) sues ... . See also: cause of action lawsuit
actionable :: adj. when enough facts or circumstances exist to m ... ction lawsuit malicious prosecution
actual controversy :: n. a true legal dispute which leads to a genuine l ... al outcome. See also: friendly suit
actual notice :: n. having been informed directly of something or h ... official records). See also: notice
ad hoc :: adj. Latin shorthand meaning "for this purpose onl ... pecially able to argue a key point.
ad litem :: adj. legal Latin meaning "for the purposes of the ... of age. See also: guardian ad litem
ad seriatim :: adj. (add sear-ee-ah-tim) Latin for "one after ano ... after another". See also: seriatim
ad valorem :: adj. Latin for "based on value," which applies to ... per parcel. See also: property tax
addendum :: n. an addition to a completed written document. Mo ... proposals or included fraudulently.
adeem :: v. to revoke a gift made in a will by destroying, ... e of my death." See also: ademption
ademption :: n. the act of adeeming, which is revoking (getting ... gift before death. See also: adeem
adequate remedy :: n. a remedy (money or performance) awarded by a co ... es it, giving cause for his arrest.
adhesion contract :: n.(contract of adhesion) a contract (often a signe ... ourceful lawyer. See also: contract
adjourn :: v. the final closing of a meeting, such as a conve ... ater time. See also: recess session
adjudication :: n. the act of giving a judicial ruling such as a j ... adjudication. See also: bankruptcy
adjusted basis :: n. in accounting, the original cost of an asset ad ... s taxes. See also: basis income tax
adjuster :: n. an employee (usually a non-lawyer) of an insura ... e company in approving settlements.
administer :: v. 1) to conduct the duties of a job or position. ... lso: administrator executor probate
administrative hearing :: n. a hearing before any governmental agency or bef ... ee also: administrative law hearing
administrative law :: n. the procedures created by administrative agenci ... judge Administrative Procedure Act
administrative law judge :: n. a professional hearing officer who works for th ... higher pay in being called "judge."
Administrative Procedure Act :: n. the federal act which established the rules and ... strative hearing administrative law
administrator :: n. the person appointed by the court to handle the ... e also: administer executor probate
admiralty :: n. concerning activities which occur at sea, inclu ... "proctors." See also: maritime law
admissible evidence :: n. evidence which the trial judge finds is useful ... olving violence. See also: evidence
admission :: n. a statement made by a party to a lawsuit or a c ... mission against interest confession
admission against interest :: n. an admission of the truth of a fact by any pers ... earsay. See also: admission hearsay
admission of evidence :: n. a judge's acceptance of evidence in a trial. Se ... ence in a trial. See also: evidence
admission of guilt :: n. a statement by someone accused of a crime that ... ssion guilty Miranda warning rights
admission to bail :: n. an order of a court in a criminal case allowing ... lient. See also: bail bail bondsman
admit :: v. 1) to state something is true in answering a co ... tted." See also: admission evidence
adopt :: v. 1) to take on the relationship of parent to chi ... nt in a lawsuit. See also: adoption
adoption :: n. the taking of a child into one's family, creati ... the child are met. See also: adopt
adultery :: n. consensual sexual relations when one of the par ... s and grist for scandal newspapers.
advance :: n. a payment which is made before it is legally du ... uthor, or a note is due to be paid.
advancement :: n. a gift made by a person to one of his or her ch ... tate gift in contemplation of death
adverse :: adj. clearly contrary, such as an adverse party be ... the property, such as an easement.
adverse interest :: n. a right or concern that is contrary to the inte ... o the interest or claim of another.
adverse party :: n. the opposite side in a lawsuit. Sometimes when ... the court rules the will was legal.
adverse possession :: n. a means to acquire title to land through obviou ... o: possession prescriptive easement
adverse witness :: n. a witness in a trial who is found by the judge ... r the opposition. See also: witness
advisory opinion :: n. an opinion stated by a judge or a court upon th ... o: actual controversy friendly suit
affiant :: n. a person who signs an affidavit and swears to i ... lerk. See also: affidavit declarant
affidavit :: n. 1) any written document in which the signer swe ... an affidavit. See also: declaration
affirm :: v. what an appeals court does if it agrees with an ... confirms a lower court's decision.
affirmative action :: n. the process of a business or governmental agenc ... and state affirmative action laws.
affirmative defense :: n. part of an answer to a charge or complaint in w ... lp the defendant. See also: defense
affix :: v. 1) to attach something to real estate in a perm ... al, as affix a signature or a seal.
after-acquired property :: n. 1) personal or real property acquired by a debt ... lso: bankruptcy secured transaction
after-acquired title :: n. title to property acquired after the owner atte ... ed title goes automatically to Sam.
after-discovered evidence :: n. evidence found by a losing party after a trial ... also: evidence writ of coram nobis
age discrimination :: n. an employer's unfair treatment of a current or ... men. See also: wrongful termination
age of consent :: n. See also: legal age majority ... n. See also: legal age majority
agency :: n. the relationship of a person (called the agent) ... ondeat superior scope of employment
agent :: n. a person who is authorized to act for another ( ... issues. See also: agency authority
agent for acceptance of service :: n. states require that a corporation name an actua ... corporations. See also: corporation
aggravated assault :: n. the crime of physically attacking another perso ... in state prison. See also: assault
agreed statement :: n. occasionally the two parties on opposite sides ... gument and not of the actual facts.
agreement :: 1) n. any meeting of the minds, even without legal ... specific terms. See also: contract
aid and abet :: v. help commit a crime. A lawyer redundancy since ... be paid by the word. See also: abet
aleatory :: adj. uncertain; usually applied to insurance contr ... ire damage to his insured building.
alias :: n. 1) a name used other than the given name of a p ... or a maiden name). See also: a.k.a.
alibi :: n. an excuse used by a person accused or suspected ... which has to be the ultimate alibi.
alien :: 1) n. a person who is not a citizen of the country ... 3) v. to convey title to property.
alienation :: n. the transfer of title to real property, volunta ... such as a mortgage. See also: alien
alienation of affections :: n. convincing a wife to leave her husband, often f ... een abolished in almost all states.
alimony :: n. support paid by one ex-spouse to the other as o ... ild support divorce spousal support
aliquot :: (al-ee-kwoh) adj. a definite fractional share, us ... trust assets. See also: share
all the estate I own :: n. a phrase from a poorly drafted will which means ... he will was written. See also: will
allegation :: n. a statement of claimed fact contained in a comp ... sure of a fact. See also: complaint
allege :: v. to claim a fact is true, commonly in a complain ... or any claim. See also: allegation
alluvion :: n. an increase in one's land from soil deposited o ... , bay or ocean. See also: accretion
alter ego :: n. a corporation, organization or other entity set ... See also: pierce the corporate veil
alternative pleading :: n. a legal fiction in which a party to a lawsuit o ... t the defendant committed the act).
ambiguity :: n. when language has more than one meaning. If the ... most favorable to the other party.
amend :: v. to alter or change by adding, subtracting, or s ... mended pleading statute stipulation
amended complaint :: n. what results when the party suing (plaintiff or ... cause of action complaint demurrer
amended pleading :: n. a changed written pleading in a lawsuit, includ ... o: amend amended complaint demurrer
American Bar Association :: n. the largest organization of American lawyers, w ... go, IL 60611; tel.: (312) 988-5522.
American Civil Liberties Union :: n. a membership organization founded in 1920 to de ... rk, NY 10036; tel.: (212) 944-9800.
American Depository Receipt :: n. called in the banking trade an ADR, it is a rec ... ding the foreign shares themselves.
amicus curiae :: n. Latin for "friend of the court," a party or an ... party's presentation to the court.
amnesty :: n. a blanket abolition of an offense by the govern ... rget the offenses. See also: pardon
amortization :: n. a periodic payment plan to pay a debt in which ... payment. See also: promissory note
ancillary administration :: n. administration of an estate's assets in another ... or "subordinate." See also: probate
ancillary jurisdiction :: n. a term used in federal courts when the court de ... ine. See also: pendent jurisdiction
and :: conj. this little word is important in law, partic ... ds "or," but not if it reads "and."
annuity :: n. 1) an annual sum paid from a policy or gift. 2) ... er regularly for years or for life.
answer :: n. in law, a written pleading filed by a defendant ... emurrer general denial verification
antenuptial (prenuptial) agreement :: n. a written contract between two people who are a ... ave been "taken" by a prior spouse.
anticipatory breach :: n. when a party to a contract repudiates (reneges ... perform. See also: breach contract
antitrust laws :: n. acts adopted by Congress to outlaw or restrict ... so: price fixing restraint of trade
apparent authority :: n. the appearance of being the agent of another (e ... e also: agency ostensible authority
appeal :: 1) v. to ask a higher court to reverse the decisio ... ng, as in "he has filed an appeal."
appear :: v. for a party or an attorney to show up in court. ... w up in court. See also: appearance
appearance :: n. the act of a party or an attorney showing up in ... neral appearance special appearance
appellant :: n. the party who appeals a trial court decision he ... e/she/it has lost. See also: appeal
appellate court :: n. a court of appeals which hears appeals from low ... court of appeals. See also: appeal
appellee :: n. in some jurisdictions the name used for the par ... ndent." See also: appeal respondent
appraise :: v. to professionally evaluate the value of propert ... surance claims. See also: appraiser
appraiser :: n. a professional who makes appraisals of the valu ... isal Institute). See also: appraise
appreciate :: v. to increase in value over a period of time thro ... securities. See also: appreciation
appreciation :: n. the increase in value through the natural cours ... or additions. See also: appreciate
approach :: v. short for "approach the bench," as in "may I ap ... oach?" See also: approach the bench
approach the bench :: v. an attorney's movement from the counsel table t ... ake a recess to go to the restroom.
approach the witness :: v. a request by an attorney to the judge for permi ... t, and it is almost always granted.
appurtenant :: adj. pertaining to something that attaches. In rea ... t. See also: easement real property
arbiter :: n. in some jurisdictions the name for a referee ap ... efore it is binding on the parties.
arbitrary :: adj. not supported by fair or substantial cause or ... d in reference to a judge's ruling.
arbitration :: n. a mini-trial, which may be for a lawsuit ready ... tance of the arbitrator's decision.
arbitrator :: n. one who conducts an arbitration, and serves as ... he other two. See also: arbitration
arguendo :: prep. Latin meaning "for the sake of argument," us ... rs most commonly in appeals briefs.
argumentative :: adj. the characterization of a question asked by t ... oody glove just walked over there?"
arm's length :: adj. the description of an agreement made by two p ... th" transaction. See also: contract
arraign :: v. to bring a criminal defendant before the court, ... d. See also: appearance arraignment
arraignment :: n. the hearing in which a person charged with a cr ... re taken care of. See also: arraign
arrears :: n. money not paid when due, usually the sum of a s ... imes these are called "arrearages."
arrest :: v. 1) to take or hold a suspected criminal with le ... anda warning probable cause warrant
arrest warrant :: n. a judge's order to law enforcement officers to ... ommitted a crime. See also: warrant
arson :: n. the felony crime of intentionally burning a hou ... ath resulting from arson is murder.
article :: n. a paragraph or section of any writing such as e ... or different sections of a statute.
articles of impeachment :: n. the charges brought (filed) to impeach a public ... y the Senate. See also: impeachment
articles of incorporation :: n. the basic charter of a corporation which spells ... year's taxes. See also: corporation
as is :: adj. description of a condition in a sales contrac ... es to cancel the "as is" provision.
assault :: 1) v. the threat or attempt to strike another, whe ... ult, including for mental distress.
assault and battery :: n. the combination of the two crimes of threat (as ... damages. See also: assault battery
assess :: v. to set a value on property, usually for the pur ... e place upon sale of real property.
asset :: n. generally any item of property that has monetar ... ill and rights to market a product.
assign :: 1) v. to transfer to another person any asset such ... en shows up in contracts and wills.
assigned risk :: n. a person whose official driving record (acciden ... ed insurance program at high rates.
assignee :: n. a person to whom property is transferred by sal ... rly real property. See also: assign
assignment :: n. the act of transferring an interest in property ... ing with property. See also: assign
assignment for benefit of creditors :: n. a method used for a debtor to work out a paymen ... ar basis to pay the debtor's bills.
Associate Justice :: n. a member of the U.S. Supreme Court appointed by ... acquitted.) See also: Supreme Court
association :: n. any group of people who have joined together fo ... ed, although technically redundant.
assume :: v. to take over the liability for a debt on a prom ... he assumption. See also: assumption
assumption :: n. the act of taking over a debt as part of paymen ... secures that debt. See also: assume
assumption of risk :: n. 1) taking a chance in a potentially dangerous s ... d be damaged or prove unprofitable.
assured :: n. the person or entity that is insured, often fou ... ance contracts. See also: insurance
at will employment :: n. a provision found in many employment contracts ... ons. See also: wrongful termination
attached :: adj. 1) referring to two buildings which are conne ... o: attachment fixture trade fixture
attachment :: n. the seizing of money or property prior to getti ... bond. See also: writ of attachment
attempt :: v. and n. to actually try to commit a crime and ha ... felt he tried but did not succeed.
attest :: v. 1) to confirm (usually in writing) that a docum ... also: holographic will will witness
attestation :: n. the act of witnessing a signature for the purpo ... or her signature. See also: attest
attorney :: n. 1) an agent or someone authorized to act for an ... ialize. See also: court reciprocity
attorney at law (or attorney-at-law) :: n. (or attorney-at-law) a slightly fancier way of ... r way of saying attorney or lawyer.
Attorney General :: n. in each state and the federal government the hi ... izenry. See also: Solicitor General
attorney of record :: n. the attorney who has appeared in court and/or s ... eve have long since been completed.
attorney-client privilege :: n. the requirement that an attorney may not reveal ... ivileged communication work product
attorney-in-fact :: n. someone specifically named by another through a ... cument. See also: power of attorney
attorney's advertising :: n. the commercials which appear on television or c ... es to handle high volume practices.
attorney's fee :: n. the payment for legal services. It can take sev ... ees in the particular type of case.
attorney's work product :: n. written materials, charts, notes of conversatio ... ivileged communication work product
attractive nuisance doctrine :: n. a legal doctrine which makes a person negligent ... ch make negligence harder to prove.
audit :: n. an examination by a trained accountant of the f ... rmation provided. See also: auditor
auditor :: n. an accountant who conducts an audit to verify t ... ing any accountant. See also: audit
authorities :: n. 1) previous decisions by courts of appeal which ... also: brief cite decision precedent
authority :: n. permission, a right coupled with the power to d ... rize ostensible authority principal
authorize :: v. to officially empower someone to act. See also: ... someone to act. See also: authority
avulsion :: n. the change in the border of two properties due ... urg on the other side of the river.
award :: 1) n. the decision of an arbitrator or commissione ... warded $27,000." See also: judgment