Listed here are just a few dictionaries and legal thesauri, which may be useful when using antiquated materials, especially those before the 18th century. Modern dictionaries are helpful only if they give a root explanation to a particular term or if they trace the term's history. Other dictionaries listed here are especially useful for Law French or Latin translations. A list of legal dictionaries in the Library and in Special Collections is available from the Special Collections Librarian. Also check the Online Guide for Legal History Research for additional sites for legal dictionaries.
Black, Henry Campbell. Black's Law Dictionary. 7th ed. St. Paul, Minn.: West Group, 1999.
There are many more editions of Black's Law Dictionary available in the stacks of the Library.
KF156 .B53 1891 Quarto
Black, Henry Campbell. 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. 1st ed. St. Paul, Mn.: West Publishing Co., 1891.
The 2nd edition published in 1910 is also available in Special Collections.
Burton, William C. Burton's Legal Thesaurus. 3rd ed. New York: Macmillian Library References, 1999.
Cowell, John. The Interpreter. New York: Da Capo Press, 1970. Reprint of Cambridge: J. Legate, 1607.
This is a reprint of the 1607 edition, which is very useful for early obscure legal terms.
KD313.C6 1727 Folio
Cowell, John. A Law Dictionary: Or, The Interpreter of Words and Terms, Used Either in the Common or Statute Laws of Great Britain, and in Tenures and Jocular Customs. London: E. and R. Nutt, and R. Gosling, 1727.
KD313.C64 1811 Quarto
Jacob, Giles. The Law Dictionary: Explaining the Rise, Progress, and Present State of the English Law. 6 vols. 1st American ed. from 2nd London. Philadelphia: P. Byrne, 1811.
KD661.J33 1817 Octavo
Jacob, Giles. A Law Grammar: or, Rudiments of the Law. 6th ed. London: W. Clarke and Sons, 1817.
KD313.T64 1835 Quarto
Tomlins, Thomas E. The Law-Dictionary, Explaining the Rise, Progress, and Present State of the British Law. 4th ed. 2 vols. London: J. and W.T. Clarke, 1835.
Walker, David M. The Oxford Companion to Law. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 1980.
Also available in the stacks of the Library.