Dictionary of English Law

Dictionary of English Law in United Kingdom

Jowitt’s Dictionary of English Law

  • By the late the Right Honourable the Earl Jowitt and Clifford Walsh, ll.m., Solicitor of the Supreme Court.
  • First edition: 1959 (2 Vols.)
  • Second edition, by John Burke, Barrister, Sometime Editor of Current Law. [London: Sweet & Maxwell Ltd. 1977. 2 Vols.(with supplements): vii, 1,922 and (Bibliography) 13 pp.
  • The Dictionary is offered by Westlaw UK.

According to the book “Concise Legal Research” (Robert Watt, ‎Francis Johns – 2009), this legal dictionary “has been on the market for some time and is highly respected” is: Jowitt’s Dictionary of English Law, 2nd ed, 1977, in 2 vols with supplements.

For “The Law Student’s Handbook” (Steve Wilson, ‎Phillip Kenny – 2010) may be “part in legal research—particularly so far as the busy practitioner is concerned” and “is quite detailed”.

It was also the object of a book review by The Cambridge Law Journal / Volume 37 / Issue 02 / November 1978, pp 350-351.

For example, the term bankruptcy in English law is defined by the Dictionary as ‘the name given to a variety of judicial or quasi-judicial proceedings, having for their main object the distribution of the property of an insolvent person among his creditors’

“A dictionary of English law containing definitions of the technical terms in modern use, and a concise statement of the rules of law affecting the principal subjects, with historical and etymological notes”


The object of this Work is sufficiently indicated by its title. The Author believes it will be found that in many cases a Dictionary, from the nature of its arrangement and scope, affords an opportunity of giving a resume of a subject with a completeness which would not be possible
in an ordinary text-book, while it also gives details which would be out of place in an institutional work, such as that of Blackstone. It is therefore hoped that this Dictionary may
be found useful by the practitioner as well as the student.

In compiling the Work the Author has relied almost wholly on his own researches. In order to collect the necessary materials, it was necessary to peruse the principal text-books on the various branches of the law, and also the contemporary-reports for the last ten years, the period over which the process of collecting materials has (with some unavoidable interrup-
tions) extended. A more difficult task was that of selecting, from the abundant store thus obtained, the matter appropriate to the scheme of the Work. It would have been easier to
have made the book nearly twice its present size.

In order to include in the Dictionary as much useful matter as possible without unduly increasing its bulk, all obsolete matter has been omitted, except where it appeared
useful to explain the existing law, or to enable the student to understand expressions used in the earlier reports and textbooks, which are still referred to at the present day. An endeavour has been made, by the use of different types, marginal notes, numbered paragraphs, and other typographical devices, to assist the reader in finding his way through the book.

The Addenda contain the principal alterations in the law which have been made during the progress of the Work through the press, including the more important provisions
of the new Conveyancing Act. The reader is requested to note up these alterations in their appropriate places in the body of the Dictionary.

The Author’s thanks are due to the Bar Association of New York for their courtesy in allowing him the use of their excellent library during a stay of some months in that city; and to his former tutor, Mr. David Lyell, LL.D., of the Inner Temple, for advice and assistance during the earlier stages of the Work.


Jowitt’s Dictionary of English Law cited by

  • Concise Legal Research (Robert Watt, ‎Francis Johns – 2009)
  • The language of the law (D Mellinkoff – 2004)
  • The Law Student’s Handbook (Steve Wilson, ‎Phillip Kenny – 2010)
  • Conceptual dictionaries for translation in the field of law (S Šarčević – International Journal of Lexicography, 1989 – Oxford Univ Press)
  • Reception and Status of English Law in Australia, The (AC Castles – Adel. L. Rev., 1963)
  • The settlement of boundary disputes in international law (AO Cukwurah – 1967)
  • Therapeutic jurisprudence and the treatment of people with mental illness in Eastern Europe: Construing international human rights law (BJ Winick – NYL Sch. J. Int’l & Comp. L., 2001)
  • Some Historical Aspects of the Pardon in England (S Grupp – The American Journal of Legal History, 1963)
  • The paths to privity: The history of the third party beneficiary contracts at English law (VV Palmer – 1992)
  • Right of the Individual to Bear Arms: A Recent Judicial Trend, The (DI Caplan – Det. CL Rev., 1982)
  • English Law attitudes to the ‘Civil Law’ (L Moccia – The journal of legal history, 1981)
  • ” Meaning” in the Law of Contracts (EA Farnsworth – Yale Law Journal, 1967)







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