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Terminology

TermDefinition
a fortiori With stronger reason; much more.
a posterior What comes after
a priori From the cause to the effect; from what goes before. Reasoning resulting in specific facts or observations after starting with broad principles.
a vincula matrimonii From the bond of matrimony.
ab actis An officer having charge of acta, public records, registers, journals, or minutes; an officer who entered on record the acta or proceedings of a court; a clerk of court; a notary public or actuary.
ab initio From the very beginning.
Abatement A reduction, a decrease, or a diminution. The suspension or cessation, in whole or in part of a continuing charge, such as rent. ex. removal of asbestos.
Abrogation The destruction or annulling of a former law, by an act of the legislative power, by constitutional authority, or by usage.
Acceptance In contract law, consent to abide by the terms of an offer; taking or receiving a thing in good faith with the intention of retaining it.
Accession That which increases the size or value of property.
Accommodation Arrangement made as a favor to another rather than for consideration received.
Acknowledge To own, avow, or admit; to confess; to recognize one's acts, and assume the responsibility therefor.
Acknowledgment Formal declaration before authorized official, by person who executed instrument, that it is his free act and deed.
Acquittal Release or discharge of an obligation or liability; in criminal law, a finding of not guilty.
actiones in personam personal actions
ad curiam before the court, to the court
ad damnum clause A clause in a pleading praying claimed money loss or damages or other relief.
ad faciendum To do
ad hoc For this special purpose.
ad infinitum Without limit; to an infinite extent; indefinitely.
ad litem For the suit; for the purposes of the suit; pending the suit. A guardian ad litem is one appointed to prosecute or defend a suit on behalf of a party incapacitated by infancy or otherwise.
ad rem To the thing at hand
ad respondendum For answering; to make answer.
ad satisfaciendum To satisfy.
ad valorem According to value; a tax imposed according to value of the property.
Additur The power of trial court to assess damages or increase the amount of a jury award.
Ademption Satisfaction of a legacy by gift prior to testator's death.
adhesion contract Standardized contract form in which a party with little or no bargaining power is forced to accept its terms.
Adieu Without delay. A common term in the Year Books, implying final dismissal from court.
Adjudication Judgment or decision of a court.
administrative law body of rules and regulations having the force of law and promulgated by an administrative body created by Congress or a state legislature.
adverse possession Acquiring title to real estate by hostile possession rather than by purchase.
Adversus Against (defendant adv. plaintiff)
Affiant The person who makes and subscribes an affidavit.
Affidavit A sworn statement in writing taken before a notary public or other authorized officer.
affirmative defense Allegation of a responsive pleading which, if it can be proved, negates the allegations of the complaint.
age of majority Age at which a person may contact sui juris; now 18 in most jurisdictions; sometimes referred to as full age, legal age, majority, or adulthood.
Agent A person authorized by another to act for him, one entrusted with another's business.
aggregatio mentium The meeting of minds. The moment when a contract is complete.
Agreement Meeting of the minds, preliminary to contract formation.
Alchemy Transmutation of base metals into gold; any seemingly magical power
alias (a.k.a.) Also known as.
alias dictus "Otherwise called." A fictitious name assumed b a person is colloquially termed an "alias."
alias summons Issued when the original has not produced its effect because it is defective in form or manner of service, and when issued, supersedes the first writ.
Alibi In criminal law, elsewhere; in another place.
Alien A foreign born person who has not qualified as a citizen of the country.
Alimony Sustenance and means. Allowances which husband or wife by court order pays the other spouse for maintenance while they are separated or after they are divorced.
Aliquot A proportional part; fractional.
Aliunde From another place; from another source.
Alius Other. Something else; another thing.
Allegation The assertion, claim, declaration, or statement of a party to an action, made in a pleading, setting out what he expects to prove.
alter ego The other self; second self; the same entity under a different name or title.
alter natim Interchangeably.
amiable Surprise: pleasing, lovely.
amicus curiae A friend of the court. A person who has no right to appear in a suit but is allowed to introduce argument, authority, or evidence to protect his interest.
Amnesty A sovereign act of oblivion for past acts, granted by a government to all persons (or to certain persons) who have been guilty of crime conditioned upon their return to obedience and duty within a prescribed period of time.
Amnesty Sovereign forgetfulness of past acts, usually available for a limited time.
Amortization Gradual extinction of a monetary obligation by periodic payments that usually includes interest.
Ancillary Auxiliary, supplemental, subordinate.
Animo With intention, disposition, design, will
animus (animo) Mind; soul; intention; disposition; design; will; that which informs the body.
Annex To tie or bind to; to attach, and often, specifically to subjoin.
anno domini (A.D.) In the year of the Lord. Commonly abbreviated A.D. The computation of time, according to the Christian era, dates from the birth of Christ.
Annotation Remark, note, or commentary intending to illustrate or explain.
Annuity A right to receive fixed, periodic payments, either for life or for a term of years.
Annul Cancel, make void, destroy.
Anomaly The state or fact of being out of place, out of true or normal or expected position.
Answer Written pleading by which a defendant responds to the plaintiff's complaint.
Ante Formerly; heretofore.
ante litem motam Before the suit brought, before litigation is filed.
Antitrust
antitrust laws Federal and state laws to prevent restraint of trade, price-fixing, rice discrimination, monopolies, or other conduct detrimental to free commerce.
Apothecary One who prepares and sells drugs or compounds for medical purposes.
Appeal Review by a higher court.
Appellant Party who files an appeal.
Appellee Party who defends an appeal.
Appraisal An evaluation or estimation of value of properly by disinterested persons of suitable qualifications.
aquiline Features: resembling an eagle's beak. Curved down like an eagle's beak.
Arbitration Investigation and determination of dispute by neutral decision-maker; decision is binding on parties.
Arbitrator A private, disinterested person chosen by the parties to a disputed question for the purpose of hearing their contentions and giving judgment which is binding. A private extraordinary judge chosen by the parties who have a matter in dispute, invested wit
Arguendo In arguing; in the course of the argument.
Arraignment In criminal law, hearing at which accused pleads guilty or not guilty.
assault Any willful attempt or threat to inflict injury upon the person of another when coupled with an apparent present ability to do so, and any intentional display of force such as would give the victim reason to fear or expect immediate bodily harm.
assault and battery Any unlawful touching of another which is without justification or excuse. it is both a tort as well as a crime.
Assets Property of all kinds, real and personal, tangible and intangible, including inter alia, for certain purposes, patents and causes of action which belong to any person including a corporation and the estate of a decedent.
Assignment A transfer or making over to another of the whole of any property, real or personal, in possession or in action, or of any estate or right therein.
Assumpsit He undertook; he promised.
assumption of risk Doctrine under which a person cannot recover for injuries received from a dangerous activity to which she voluntarily exposed herself.
Atrocities The quality or state of being atrocious; uncivilized.
Attachment Pre-judgment seizure of property based upon court order.
Attest To bear witness to; to bear witness to a fact; to affirm to be true or genuine; to act as a witness to; to certify.
Attest Cerfity or affirm to be true or genuine.
Attestation The act of witnessing an instrument in writing at the request of the party making the same and subscribing it as a witness. The act of witnessing the execution of a paper and subscribing the name of the witness in testimony of such fact.
attorney at large Person admitted to practice law in his respective state and authorized to perform both civil and criminal legal functions for clients, including drafting legal documents, giving legal advice, and representing such before courts, administrative agencies, b
attorney in fact A private attorney authorized by another to act in his place and stead either for some particular purpose as to do a particular act or for the transaction of business in general not of a legal character.
Auction A public sale of property to the highest bidder by one licensed and authorized for that purpose.
Aver Assert, allege, claim.
Bailment The delivery of personal property to another to be held for a particular person and then returned.
Bankrupt The state or condition of one who is unable to pay his debts as they are, or become, due.
bankruptcy act A federal law (11 U.S.C.A.) for the benefit and relief of creditors and their debtors in cases in which the latter are unable or unwilling to pay their debts.
Battery Criminal battery is defined as the unlawful application of force to the person of another.
Beneficiary One who benefits from the act of another.
Bequest Gift of personal property by will.
Bias Inclination; bent; prepossession; a preconceived opinion; a redisposition to decide a cause or an issue in a certain way, which does not leave the mind perfectly open to conviction.
bona fide In or with good faith; honestly, openly, and sincerely; without deceit or fraud.
breach of contract Failure, without legal excuse, to perform any promise which forms the whole or part of a contract.
Brief Written argument of counsel concerning one or more legal issues in a case, sometimes called a memorandum of law.
Cacophony Harsh or discordant sound.
Capacity Having legal authority or mental ability; being of sound mind.
Capias Take, arrest
Capita Persons, heads
Caption Style of the case. That part of a pleading which states the name of the court, the names of the parties, the case number assigned, and the name of the pleading.
Castigated Punished; subdue by punishment.
Causa A cause, reason, occasion, motive, or inducement.
causa mortis In contemplation of approaching death.
cause of action The fact or facts which give a person a right to judicial relief.
Caveat Let him beware.
caveat actor Let the doer or actor beware.
caveat emptor Let the buyer beware.
Certiorari Send the pleadings up (from an inferior court to a superior court; U.S. Supreme Court uses writ of certiorari to review most cases). To be informed of, to be made certain in regard to. The name of a writ of review or inquiry. The writ of common law ori
Cestui Beneficiaries (pronounced "settee").
cestui que trust Beneficiaries of the trust.
Chattel Personal property.
Choate Perfected; complete.
choose in action A personal right not yet reduced to judgment.
Circa In the area of, about, concerning.
civil code Collection of laws or statutes relating to private rights or remedies.
civil law The body of laws relating to private rights and remedies, distinguished from criminal law.
Civiliter Civilly. In a person's civil character or position, or by civil (not criminal) process or procedure.
civiliter mortus Civilly dead; dead in the view of the law.
CLA Certified Legal Assistant - a professional designation earnged through and awarded by NALA.
Code A systematic collection, compendium or revision of laws, rules or regulations.
Code of Professional Responsibility The rules of conduct that govern the legal profession, contains both general ethical guidelines and specific rules prohibiting certain actions and conduct.
Codicil A supplement or an addition to a will.
common law A system of jurisprudence based on judicial precedents rather than statutory laws; "common law originated in the unwritten laws of England and was later applied in the United States" Comprises the body of those principles and rules of action relating to
community property Property owned in common by husband and wife each having an undivided one-half interest by reason of their marital status.
Commutation Substitution of a lesser punishment for a greater one.
compos mentis Of sound mind
conciliation The adjustment and settlement of a dispute in a friendly, unantagonistic manner.
conclusion of law Statement of court as a law applicable on basis of facts found by a jury.
Condemnation The process of taking private property for public use under a government's right of eminent domain.
conjunctim et divisim Joint and severally.
Consideration The inducement to a contract. The cause, motive, price, or impelling influence which induces a contracting party to enter into a contract.
Consortium Conjugal fellowship of husband and wife, and the right of each to the company, cooperation, affection, and aid of the other in every conjugal relation.
Consortium Conjugal fellowship of husband and wife and the right of each to the company, society, cooperation, affection, and aid of the other in every conjugal relation.
Contempt A willful disregard or disobedience of a public authority.
Contra Against, confronting, opposite to; on the other hand on the contrary.
contra bonos mores Against good morals.
contra nobis before us ourselves.
contra pacem Against the peace.
Contract An agreement between two or more persons which creates an obligation to do or not to do a particular thing. Its essentials are competent parties, subject matter, a legal consideration, mutuality of agreement, and mutuality of obligation.
Conversion Wrongful taking of personal property with intent to deprive its owner of it permanently.
Copyright (Noun) A document granting exclusive right to publish and sell literary or musical or artistic work. The right of an author or his assignee, under statute, to print and publish his literary or artistic work, exclusively of all other persons. This right m
Coram Before; in the presence of. Applied to persons only.
Corpus Body.
corpus delicti The body of crime. The body (material substance) upon which a crime has been committed; e.g., the corpse of a murdered man, the charred remains of a house burned down.
corpus juris A body of law. A term used to signify a book comprehending several collections of law.
corpus juris civilis The body of the civil law.
Covenant Agreement or promise, often restricting the use of real estate.
creditor A person to whom a debt is owed by another who is the debtor.
criminal law The substantive criminal law is that law which for the purpose of preventing harm to society (a) declares what conduct is criminal, and (b) prescribes the punishment to be imposed for such conduct.
cum testament annexo With the will annexed. A term applied to administration granted where a testator makes an incomplete will without naming any executors, or where he names incapable persons or where the executors named refuse to act.
Cura Care; charge; oversight, guardianship.
Curia Care; charge; guardianship.
Damnum Damage; loss.
damnum absque injuria Loss, hurt or harm without injury in the legal sense.
Datum A first principle; a thing given, a date.
De Of; by; from.
de bene esse
de bonis non An abbreviation of De bonis non admiistratis. Of the goods not administered. When an administrator is appointed to succeed another who has left the estate partially unsettled. He is said to be granted "administration de bonis non"; i.e., of the good no
de facto In fact, in deed, actually.
de jure Of right; legitimate; unlawful; by right and just title.
de minimus Short for de minimum non cural lex. The law does not care for or take notice of very small or trifling matters.
de novo Anew; afresh; a second time.
de son tort Of his own wrong.
Decree A decision, order, or sentence, given in a cause by a court of equity or admiralty. The judgment of a court of equity or chancery answering for most purposes to the judgment of a court of law. The declaration of a court announcing the legal consequences
Deed A conveyance of realty; a writing signed by grantor whereby title to realty is transferred from one to another.
Defamation That which holds one up to contempt or ridicule; that which injures one's reputation.
default judgment A binding judgment in favor of the plaintiff when the defendant has not responded to a summons or has failed to appear before a court. When a party against whom a judgment for affirmative relief is sought has failed to plead (answer) r otherwise defend,
Delphic Being cryptic, enigmatic, mystic, enigmatical or mysterious.
Deponent One who gives a deposition.
Deposition Sworn testimony given by question and answer in a non-courtroom setting, which is recorded and transcribed by a court reporter.
Devise Gift of real property by will.
Diaphanous Transparent.
Dicta Opinions of a judge which do not embody the resolution or determination of the court.
Dictum A statement, remark, or observation.
dies non Not a day.
Discharge To release, lierate, annul, disencumber, dismiss.
Discovery A compulsory pretrial disclosure of documents relevant to a case; enables one side in a litigation to elicit information from the other side concerning the facts in the case. A written tool to "discover" that which was previously unknown or hidden.
disinterested witness A witness who has no interest in the cause or matter in issue and who is lawfully competent to testify.
disquiet To take away the peace; making rest less or uneasy
donation A gift. Transfer of title to property to one who receives it without paying for it.
duces tecum Bring with you. The name of certain species of writs. Subpoena duces tecum is the most common, requiring a party summoned to appear in court to bring with him some document or documents, piece of evidence, or other thing to be used or inspected by the c
dum bene se gesserit While he shall conduct himself, during good behavior.
durante During.
durante minore aetate During minority.
durante viduitate During widowhood.
Duress Unlawful constraint exercised upon a person, forcing her to do an act which she would not have done otherwise.
e converso Conversely, on the other hand; on the contrary.
Easement A right of use over the property of another. The right to use the property of another.
Effete Exhausted of vitality; worn out. Marked by excessive self-indulgence and moral decay; "a group of effete self-professed intellectuals."
en banc In the bench, all judges present (a three judge panel sits individually or en banc).
endorsement (indorsement) A signature that validates something.
Enjoin To prevent or forbid by injunction.
eo instant Upon the instant
equity Justice administered according to fairness as contracted with the strictly formulated rules of common law.
Ergo Therefore; hence; because.
Erratum Error.
escheat Reversion of property to the state when there are no heirs to inherit the property at a person's death.
Estate The degree, quantity, nature, and extent of interest which a person has in real and personal property.
Estop To stop, bar, prevent.
Estoppel Doctrine under which a person's acts or failure to act prevents her from seeking legal relief, although she would have been entitled to relief otherwise.
et al An abbreviation for et alii "and others."
et alius And another.
et cetera And others; and other things; and others of a like character; and others of a like kind.
et seq Abbreviation of et sequentes - "and the following." Sometimes shown as et seq.
et ux Et uxor -- "and wife."
et vir And husband.
Eviction to recover real estate (from a tenant) by legal process; t6o force out or remove from real property.
Evidence All the means by which any matter of fact, the truth of which is submitted to investigation, is established or disproved.
Evidentiary Having the quality of evidence; constituting evidence; evidencing
ex contractu From and out of a contract.
ex delicto From a delict, tort, fault, crime, or malfeasance.
ex gratia As a matter of favor.
ex necessitate legis From or by necessity of law.
ex officio From office; by virtue of the office.
ex parte On one side only; by or for one party; done for, in behalf of, or on the application of one party only.
ex post facto After the act; by an act or fact occurring after some previous act or fact, and relating thereto; by subsequent matter.
ex rel From the relation of; a form of pleading by the state on a matter arising from another case.
ex relatione Upon relation.
exempli gratial (e.g.) For example.
exemplified copy Copy of a document which has been authenticated.
Exemptions Immunity from a general burden, tax, or charge; in bankruptcy or in judgment executions, that portion of the debtor's property that cannot be liquidated and applied to her debts.
Expert One who is knowledgeable in specialized field, that knowledge being obtained from either education or personal experience.
Facto In fact; by an act; by the act or fact.
Fatalistic Relating to, implying, or consisting of fatalism.
felonice Feloniously.
Felony A crime of a graver or more serious nature than those designated as misdemeanors. Under federal law, any crime punishable by death or imprisonment for a term exceeding one year.
feme covert A married woman.
feme sole A single woman, including those who have been married but who marriage has been dissolved by death or divorce.
fetishes A form of sexual desire in which gratification depends to an abnormal degree on some object or item of clothing or part of the body; "common male fetishes are breasts, legs, hair, shoes, and underwear." A charm superstitiously believed to embody magical
Fiat "Let it be done." An authority issuing from some competent source for the doing of some legal act.
Fictitious name A counterfeit, alias, feigned, or pretended name taken by a person differing in some essential particular from his true name with the implication that it is meant to deceive or mislead.
Fiduciary A fiduciary is a person who occupies a position of trust in relation to someone else such that he is required to act for the latter's benefit within the scope of that relationship. In business or law, it generally means someone with specific duties, such
Fieri To be made up, to become.
Filius A son; a child.
filius familias In civil law, the son of a family; an un-emancipated son.
filius nullius An illegitimate child; son of nobody.
filius populi A son of the people.
flagrante delicto In the very act of committing the crime; while the crime is occurring.
Forum A court of justice or judicial tribunal; a ;lace of jurisdiction; a place where remedy is pursued.
forum non conveniens discretionary power of a court to decline jurisdiction over a case when the court believes it should be tried elsewhere for convenience of parties and witnesses.
Fraud Any artifice used by one person to deceive another.
Gaped To stare open-mouthed in surprise or admiration.
general denial A pleading in the firm of an answer, which denies allegations made by the opposing party but which contains no affirmative defenses.
Gift a voluntary transfer of property to another made gratuitously and without consideration.
Grantee One to whom real estate is conveyed; the buyer or real esate.
Grantor One who conveys real estate; the seller of real estate.
Gravis Serious, of importance.
Guarantor One who agrees to undertake the (financial) obligation of another.
Guaranty Agreement to undertake the (financial) obligation of another.
Guardian A person lawfully invested with the power, and charged with the dut6y, of taking care of the person a managing the property and rights of another person, who for some reason is considered incapable of administering his own affairs.
guardian ad litem Appointed by court to prosecute or defend the rights of another person who is incapable of prosecuting or defending himself such as someone who is incapacitated for some reason.
guardian ad litem Person appointed by a court to look after the interests of a child or incompetent during the pendency of a litigation.
habeas corpus You have the body. The name given to a variety of writs with the object of bringing a party before a court or judge.
habendum clause That part of a deed which begins "to have and to hold"; defines extent of ownership.
hearing A proceeding of relative formality (though less formal than a trial), generally public, with definite issues of fact or of law to be tried or heard, in which witnesses are sometimes heard and parties proceeded against have the right to be heard. It is mu
Heir One who inherits property, whether real or personal.
Honorarium Honorary fee or gift; compensation from gratitude.
hypothetical question A combination of assumed or proved facts and circumstances stated in such form as to constitute a coherent and specific situation or state of facts upon which the opinion of an expert is asked, by way of evidence in a trial.
Ibid Abbreviation of ibidem; in the same place, in the same book; on the same page.
Idem The same as above (id.).
idem sonans Having the same sound (as names sounding alike but spelled differently).
Ignorantia Ignorance; want of knowledge.
ignorantia legis neminem excusat "Ignorance of the law excuses no one."
Illicit Not permitted or allowed.
illicitum collegium An illegal corporation.
Illud That.
impotentia excusat legem The impossibility of doing what is required by the law excuses the performance.
in bonis Among the goods or property; in actual possession.
in camera In cambers; in private.
in camera In chambers; in private.
in curia In court.
in esse In being; actually existing.
in extremis In extremity; the last illness.
in forma pauperis In the character of or manner of a pauper.
in fraudem legis In fraud of the law.
in future In the future; at a future time.
in hoc In this; in respect to this.
in limine At the beginning; threshold
in loco parentis In the place of the parent.
in omnibus In all things; on all points.
in pari delicto In equal fault.
in personam An act or proceeding done or directed against or with reference to a specific person.
in praesenti In the present; at the present time.
in re In the affair; in the matter of; concerning.
in rem Proceedings or actions instituted against a thing as opposed to an action against a person.
in specie Specific; specifically. In kind; in the same or like form.
in toto In the whole; wholly; completely.
in toto In the whole, complete
in transitu In transit
inchoate Unfinished, incomplete.
Incivile Irregular, improper; out of the due course of law.
indebitatus assumpsit Being indebted, be promised, or undertook.
Indemnify To secure against loss or damage.
Indictment Written accusation issued by a grand jury against a defendant in criminal law.
indispensable parties Parties without whose presence no adequate judgment can be entered determining rights of parties before a court. Without whose presence the case cannot proceed.
Indorsement Act of a payee, drawee, accommodation indorser, or holder of a bill, note, check, or other negotiable instrument, in writing his or her name upon the back of the instrument to assign or transfer the negotiable instrument to another.
Indubitable Truth: too evident to be doubted. Too obvious to be doubted. Not dubitable or doubtful; too evident to admit of doubt; unquestionable; evident; apparently certain; as, an indubitable conclusion.
Infant One who has not reached the age of majority, a minor.
Information Written accusation issued by a prosecutor against a defendant in criminal law.
Infra Beneath; below
Infra Below, under, beneath, underneath.
Injunction An order issued by a court of equity requiring a person to do or not to do a specific act.
Innuendo "Meaning." a statement by plaintiff of construction which he puts upon words which are alleged to be libelous.
Insolvent Condition of a person or entity that exists when total liabilities exceed total assets
Instanter immediately.
Inter Among; between.
inter alia, inter alios Among other things, between other persons
inter se Among themselves
inter vivos Between the living; from one living person to another.
Interim In the meantime; meanwhile.
Interlocutory Provisional, interim, not final.
Interrogatories Series of formal, written questions addressed to a party for discovery purposes.
interstate commerce Trade, transport, and communication between or among the several states of the United States. An interchange of goods or commodities which involves transportation between states.
Intestate Without a will, one who dies without a will
Intra In; near; within.
Ipse He himself; the same; the very person.
ipse dixit He himself said it; a bare assertion resting on the authority of an individual.
ipso facto By the fact itself; by the mere fact; by the mere effect of an act or a fact.
ita est So it is; so it stands.
Judgment Final order of a court of law, based upon a jury verdict or upon findings of fact by the court.
Judgment The official and authentic decision of a court of justice upon the respective rights and claims of the parties to an action or suit therein litigated and submitted to its determination.
Jura Rights, laws.
jura personarum Rights of persons; rights which concern and are annexed to the persons of men.
jura rerum Rights of things; rights which a may may acquire over external objects or things, unconnected with his person.
Jurat Clause of a notary public or authorized officer attesting that a statement or document was sworn to by a specific person on a specific date.
Jurat That part of an affidavit where the officer certifies that the same was "sworn" before him. The jurat is usually in the following form, namely "Sworn and subscribed before me, on the ____ day of _______, 1842, J. P. justice of the peace."
jure divino By divine right.
jure uxoris By right of wife.
juris publici Of common right; of common or public use.
Jurisdiction Power conferred on a court to hear a particular case and to render a final decision on the merits.
Jurisdiction The legal power, right, or authority of a particular court to hear and determine causes, to try criminals, or to execute justice; judicial authority over a cause or class of causes; as, certain suits or actions, or the cognizance of certain crimes, are wi
Jurisprudence Science of law; system of law
Jus Law; right; laws collectively
jus accrescendi The right of survivorship.
jus ad rem A right to a thing.
jus civile Civil law; the system of law peculiar to one state or people.
jus commune The common law, the common right.
jus gentium The law of nations, international law
jus habendi The right to have a time.
jus tertii The right of a third party, the rights of another person.
Laches A doctrine by which equitable relief is denied to one who has waited too long to seek relief.
legal assistant A distinguishable group of persons who assist attorneys in delivering legal services. Within this occupational category, some individuals are known as paralegals. Through formal education, training, and experience, legal assistants have knowledge and ex
Lessee One who possesses or uses the property of another; a tenant.
Lessor A title holder of property who contracts for its possession or use by another; a landlord.
levari facias Cause to be levied, a writ of execution.
Lex Law
Liable Legal responsible.
Libel Written defamation
Lien A charge, security, or encumbrance on property.
Liquidated Property or claim that has been converted to its cash equivalent.
lis pendens A pending suit. Jurisdiction, power, or control courts acquire over property in suit pending action and until final judgment.
Litigation Contest in a court of law for the purpose of enforcing a right or seeking a remedy.
Locus A place, the place where a thing is done.
locus delicti The place of the offense the place where an offense was committed.
locus sigilli (l.s.) The place for the seal.
Magistrate Court officer with limited judicial authority; a public officer.
mal practice Professional negligence or misconduct.
Mala Bad; evil; wrongful.
mala fide Bad faith.
mala in se Wrongs in themselves; acts morally wrong; offenses against conscience.
mala praxis Malpractice; unskillful management or treatment.
mala prohibita Acts declared as criminal by statute (failure to file a report), though not wrong in themselves (theft).
Malfeasance Evil doing; performance of an act with bad intent.
malo animo With an evil mind; with a bad purpose, wrongful intention, or malice.
Malum Wrong; evil; wicked; reprehensible.
malum in se A wrong in itself; an act or case involving illegality from the very nature of the transaction, upon principles of natural, moral, and public law.
Mandamus We command. A writ used to compel an official to perform an act which she is required to perform.
manu forti With a strong hand, forcible entry.
Mediation Arrangement to attempt settlement of a dispute by using a neutral party as the referee; unlike an arbitrator, a mediator does not issue a binding decision.
Melee A noisy riotous fight. A fight in which the combatants are mingled in one confused mass; a hand to hand conflict.
memorandum of law Brief of law submitted to a court by the attorney for a party.
memorandum opinion Very short opinion of a court.
Mens Mind, intention; meaning; understanding; will.
mens rea A guilty mind; a guilty or wrongful purpose; criminal intent
merger Absorption of one thing into another.
metes and bounds A method of describing real estate, using boundary lines with terminal points and angles.
Minor Person who is not an adult; a child.
Misdemeanor A criminal offense for which the maximum possible punishment is a fine or incarceration for a period less than one year.
Misdemeanor A crime less serious than a felony punishable by fine or imprisonment other than in a penitentiary. Under federal law, any offense other than a felony is a misdemeanor.
Misfeasance Improper performance of an otherwise lawful act.
Mitigation Duty of parties to minimize damages after an injury is sustained or a breach occurs.
Modus Manner, means; way
Mordant Biting and caustic in thought, manner, or style.
Mortgage Conditional conveyance of an interest in real estate, usually as security for a debt.
Mortgage An interest in land created by a written instrument providing security for the performance of a duty or the payment of a debt.
Mortgagee One who receives a mortgage, usually a lender.
Mortgagor An owner of real estate who gives a mortgage.
motion Application (not a pleading) or request made to a court to obtain an interim ruling or order.
motion in limine Application requesting a court to rule in advance that specific, unfairly prejudicial information will not be mentioned during trial.
negligence Failure to use the care which a reasonable and prudent person would use in similar circumstances.
nihil dicit He says nothing, as in a default judgment against a defendant who does not raise a defense in the action.
Nil Nothing.
nil debet He owes nothing.
Nisi Unless.
nisi prius Used to describe any court where a case is first heard by a judge and jury. trial courts where issues of fact are tried before a jury and one presiding judge.
nolle proseque Unwilling to prosecute. A formal entry recorded by the prosecuting officer declaring that the prosecutor decides not to pursue the case.
nolo contendere I will not contest it. The name of a plea in a criminal action having the same legal effect as a plea of guilty regarding all proceedings on the indictment and on which the defendant may be sentenced.
Nominal Existing in name only; not real or substantial; connected with the transaction or proceeding in name only, not in interest.
Non Not.
non assumpsit Plea in defense; that he did not promise.
non compos mentis Not of sound mind; insane.
non est factum It is not his deed.
non obstante Notwithstanding. Non obstante veredicto.
non obstante veredicto Notwithstanding the verdict.
non sequitur It does not follow.
Notary Someone legally empowered to witness signatures and certify a document's validity and to take depositions. A public officer who attests or certifies deeds and other writings, or copies of them, usually under his official seal, to make them authentic, esp
notary public Public officer who administers oaths, attests and certifies documents, and takes acknowledgments.
note bene (N.B.) Note well; take notice.
Novation Substitution of a new contract, debt, or obligation for an existiing one between the same or different parties.
nudum pactum A voluntary promise, without any consideration other than mere good or natural affection.
Nul No; none.
nul debet He owes nothing.
nul tort No wrong done. In pleading, the plea of the general issue to a real action by which the defendant denies that he committed any wrong.
nulla bona No goods (wording used on the return of a writ fieri facias).
nunc pro tunc Now for then. Applied to acts allowed to be done after the time when they should be done, with a retroactive effect.
Nuncupative Oral; not written.
Oath Solemn pledge attesting to the truth of a statement.
Oath Any form of attestation by which a person signifies that he is bound in conscience to perform an act faithfully and truthfully. An affirmation of truth of a statement which means one who willfully asserts something as true which is untrue can be punishe
obiter dictum Remark which is not central to the main issue.
Obsidian Volcanic glass that is black. Acid or granitic glass formed by the rapid cooling of lava without crystallization; usually dark, but transparent in thin pieces.
Offer A promise; a commitment to do or to refrain from doing some specific act.
Offeree One to whom an offer is made.
offeror One who makes an offer.
Official Pertaining to an office; invested with the character of an officer; proceeding from, sanctioned by, or done by, an officer. A person authorized to act.
Omnibus For all, containing two or more independent matters.
Onus A burden or obligation.
onus probandi The burden of proof.
Option A right supported by consideration to purchase property at an agreed price within a specified time.
Opus Work, labor. The product of work or labor.
Order Mandate, command, or direction authoritatively given mandate of a court.
Ordinance Legislative enactment (law enacted) by a local government such as a county or a city.
Ordinance A rule established by authority; a permanent rule of action; a law or statute.
ore tenus By word of mouth, orally, as in a motion ore tenus.
Ostensibly Outwardly apparent.
pactum An agreement without consideration that might produce a civil litigation.
Paralegal A person with legal skills, but one who is not an attorney, and who works under the supervision of a lawyer or who is otherwise authorized by law to use those legal skills.
pari delicto In equal fault; in a similar offense or crime; equal in guilt or in legal fault.
pari passu By equal progress, ratably, equitably, without preference.
Parole Release from imprisonment upon specific conditions related to conduct or good behavior.
Parole Release from jail, prison or other confinement after actually serving part of a sentence.
parole evidence Oral proof of contract terms which are not contained within the written contract document.
parole evidence rule
particeps criminis A participant in crime; an accomplice.
Patent Inventor's right to exclude others from making, using, or selling the invention for seventeen years.
Patent A document granting an inventor sole rights to an invention.
pater familias Father of the family.
Paternity Relationship of a father to a child.
Payee One to whom payment is made.
Payor One who makes payment.
Peculium Private property.
Pecuniary Monetary; relating to money.
Pecuniary Monetary, relating to money; financial; consisting of money or that which can be valued in money.
penal action In its broadest context it refers to criminal prosecution. More particularly, it refers to a civil action in which a wrongdoer is subject to a fine or penalty payable to the aggrieved party. An action for the recovery of a penalty given by statute.
Pendens Pending
pendent lite Pending the suit; during the actual progress of a suit; during litigation.
per annum By the year.
per capita By the heads or polls. According to the number of individuals; share and share alike.
per curiam By the court. Used in reports to distinguish an opinion of the whole court from an opinion written by any one judge.
per diem By the day.
per se By himself or itself; in itself; taken alone.
per stipes By roots or stocks; by representation. Derived from civil law and used in the law of descents and distribution; denotes a method of dividing an intestate estate.
Periphery The outside boundary or surface of something..
Perjury False testimony given under oath.
Persequi To follow after; to pursue or claim in form of law.
Plaintive Afflicted with grief or sadness.
Plausible Apparently valid or likely.
Post After, later.
post factum After the fact, after the even
post mortem After death; pertaining to matters occurring after death.
post-obit To take effect after death.
power of attorney An instrument authorizing one to act as agent or attorney-in-fact for another as to those matters listed in the instrument.
power of attorney An instrument authorizing another to act as one's agent or attorney. The agent is attorney in fact and his power is revoked on the death of the principal by operation of law.
Praecipe An original writ, drawn up in the alternative, commanding the defendant to do the thing required, or show reason why he has not done it.
Precedent Holding of a case which guides the decisions in future cases involving similar facts and similar legal issues.
prima facie At first sight; on the first appearance; on the face of it; so far as can be judged from the first disclosure.
prima facie case Such as will suffice until contradicted and overcome by other evidence.
prima facie evidence Good and sufficient evidence on its face; such evidence as, in the judgment of the law, is sufficient to establish a given fact.
privileged communication Those statements made by certain persons within a protected relationship such as husband and wife, attorney client, priest penitent, and the like, which the law protects from force disclosure on the witness stand at the option of the witness client, penit
privileged communications Statements made by persons within specific, protected relationships for evidentiary purposes (husband-wife, attorney-client, priest-parishioner, and so forth).
Pro For, in respect of; on account of, in behalf of.
pro bono For the good; used to describe work or services done or performed free of charge.
pro chein ami Next friend.
pro confesso For confessed; as confessed.
pro forma As a matter of form.
pro hac vice For this occasion.
pro rata Proportionately; according to a certain rate, percentage, or proportion.
pro se For himself; in his own behalf; in person
pro tanto For so much; for as much as may be; for as far as it goes.
pro tempore The time being; temporarily.
probable cause Justification to believe that a crime was committed and that the accused is the person who committed it.
probate Court procedure by which a will is proved to be valid or invalid.
Probation A sentence which releases a convicted person into the community under the supervision of a probation officer.
Probation (law) A way of dealing with offenders without imprisoning them; a defendant found guilty of a crime is released by the court without imprisonment subject to conditions imposed by the court; "probation is part of the sentencing process." Supervised by a p
procedure law That which prescribes methods of enforcing rights or obtaining redress for their invasion.
promissory estoppel A doctrine which prevents a party to a contract from denying that consideration was given for the contract.
promissory note A written promise to pay a specific sum of money at a future time.
prospective law A law which looks backward or contemplates the part; one which is made to effect acts or facts occurring, or rights accruing, before it came into force.
proximate cause The last (negligent) act which leads to injury; legal cause.
Proxy An instrument authorizing one to cast the votes of another at a corporate meeting.
publici juris Of public right
punitive damages Damages awarded over and above the amount of losses, which are awarded as punishment of the wrongdoer.
pur autre vie For or during the life of another.
quantum meruit As much as he deserved.
quantum valebant As much s they were worth.
Quare Wherefore; for what reason; on what account.
Quash Suppress; stop; cease; abate.
Quasi As if; almost as it were; analogous to.
Quavered Inwardly with nervousness (shake).
quid pro quo What for what; something for something. Used in law for the giving of one valuable thing for another.
quiet title action Action to determine clear title to real estate.
quitclaim deed Deed without warranty, which passes only that title which the grantor has.
quo animo With what intention or motive.
quo warranto An extraordinary proceeding, prerogative in nature, to prevent an official, corporation, or persons acting as such from usurping a power which they do not have.
quoad hod As to this; with respect to this; so far as this in particular is concerned.
ratio decidenti The ground or reason of decision.
Re In the matter of.
Recidivist Repeat offender.
Release Discharge of one party's obligation to another.
remittet damna An entry on the record, by which the plaintiff declares that he remits a part of the damages which have been awarded to him.
Remittitur Power of the trial court to diminish the award of damages awarded by the jury.
Replevin Action to recover possession of personal property.
Res A thing; an object; an object, subject matter, or status considered as the defendant in an action, or as the object against which, directly, proceedings are taken.
res gestae Things done; the whole of the transaction under investigation and every part of it.
res ipsa loquitur The thing speaks for itself. The foundation of a legal pleading in common law in negligence which, if accepted by the court, allows the burden of proof to be imposed on the defendant instead of the plaintiff.
res judicata A matter adjudicated; a thing judicially acted upon or decided; a thing or matter settled by judgment.
Rescission An equitable remedy which invalidates a contract on the basis of mutual mistake, fraud, impossibility, and so forth.
respondeat superior Let the master answer.
Restitution Restoration of a thing to its rightful owner; a measure of damages according to the defendant's gains rather than the plaintiff's losses.
sardonic mimicry Skeptically numerous practice of a poor imitation.
scienter Prior knowledge. Knowingly. Frequently used to signify the defendant's guilty knowledge.
scilicet (SS. or ss.) To wit; that is to say. A word used in pleadings or other instruments as introductory to a more particular statement of matters previously mentioned in general terms.
Scintilla A spark, the least particle.
se defendendo In defending oneself; in self-defense.
semper Always.
semper paratus Always ready. The name of a plea by which the defendant alleges that he has always been ready to perform what is demanded of him.
seriatis (seriatim) Severally; separately, individually; one by one.
service of process Delivery of a writ, summons, subpoena to the person named therein.
Settlor One who creates a trust; a trustor.
Sic Thus, so, in such manner (used to indicate an error in original, quoted material).
sigillum A seal.
Sine Without.
sine die Without day; without assigning a day for a further meeting or hearing.
sine qyua non that without which a thing cannot occur; indispensable condition or part.
sinuous Dance: bending in and out in a wavy form; winding.
Situs Situation; location; e.g., location or place of crime or business.
Skein A thread wound on a reel in long lengths.
Slander Spoken defamation.
Sovereign A person, body, or state in which independent and supreme authority is vested.
specific performance Equitable remedy in contract law which requires the breaching party to perform according to the specific terms of the contract.
stare decisis To abide by, or adhere to, decided cases. Policy of courts to stand by precedent and not to disturb settled point.
status quo state in which, present state
statute Legislative enactment (law enacted) by Congress or a state legislature.
Statute An act of the legislature declaring, commanding, or prohibiting something; a particular law enacted and established by the will of the legislative department of government.
statute of limitations Statute which limits the time within which a cause of action may be filed.
Stipulation Agreement between parties to a lawsuit concerning matters related to the trial.
sua sponte Voluntarily, of his own will and motion
sub Under; upon.
sub curia Under law.
sub generis Of its own kind or class, the only one of a kind, unique
sub nomine Under the name; in the name of; under title of.
sub silentio Under silence, without any notice being taken.
Subpoena A writ commanding the named person to appear at a specific time and place.
subpoena duces tecum A writ commanding the named person to appear at a specific time and pace and to bring specific records or documents with her.
substantive law That part of the law which creates, defines, and regulates rights, as opposed to "adjective or remedial law" which prescribes method of enforcing the rights or obtaining redress for their invasion.. That which creates duties, rights and obligations while
sui generis Of its own kind or class; i.e., the only one of its own kind; peculiar.
sui juris Of his own right; possession of full social and civil rights.
Summons Document served upon a defendant to notify her that suit has been filed against her and directing her to answer or to otherwise appear in the case by a specific date.
Supersedeas The name of a writ containing a command to stay the proceedings at law.
Supra Above; upon. (This word occurring by itself in a book refers the reader to a previous part of the book.)
Survey process by which a tract of land is measured and its contents determined, with a map to scale created for it.
susrrus Full of whispering sounds.
Tacit Not speaking; carried on without words or speech.
Taut tightly drawn.
temporary restraining order An emergency injunctive remedy (order) of short duration to require or to forbid an act until a hearing can be held.
Tenere To hold, to keep.
Term Definition
Term Definition
terminus a quo The starting point.
testimonium clause The clause of an instrument which begins "In witness whereof, . . ."
timbre The quality of a sound that distinguishes it from others of the same pitch and volume.
Tort A civil wrong such as negligence or trespass, as distinguished from a criminal offense (the same conduct may result in both tort liability and criminal liability). A private or civil wrong or injury, other than breach of contract, for which the court wil
Tort A private or civil wrong or injury, other than breach of contract, for which the court will provide a remedy in the form of an action for damages.
Trademark A distinctive mark of authenticity through which the products of particular manufacturers or the vendible commodities of particular merchants may be distinguished from those of others.
trust account Account where client funds are kept separate from attorney funds.
Ultra Beyond; outside of; in excess of.
ultra facias That you cause to come, a type of summons.
ultra vires Acts beyond the scope of the powers of a corporation as defined by its charter or laws of state of incorporation.
Unconscionable Gross unfair, unscrupulous, terms or conduct which shocks the conscience.
uniform laws Laws in various subject areas approved by the commissioners or uniform state laws that are often adopted, in whole or in substantial part, by individual states.
Uninflected Not inflected.
Usury The excess over the lawful interest rate.
Vendee The purchaser or buyer of property.
Vendor The seller of property.
Venue The location where an action is tried.
Venue A neighborhood, the place, or county in which an injury is declared to have been done, or fact declared to have happened. The scene of any event or action (especially the place of a meeting). In law: the jurisdiction where a trial will be held.[
Verdict Finding(s) of fact by a jury in a civil or criminal trial.
Verification Confirmation of accuracy; sworn oath by an authorized person that certain statements are true to the best of his or her knowledge and belief.
Verisimilitude On matters: having the appearance of truth.
Versus Against. Reverse manner.
vi et armis By force and arms.
vice-versa Conversely; in inverted order.
videlicet (viz.) It is easy to see, that is to say, namely.
vis a vis One who (that which) is face to face with another.
Vivos Living
Void Having no legal force or effect.
Void Null; ineffectual; nugatory; having no legal force or binding effect; unable in law to support the purpose for which it was intended.
voir dire To speak the truth.
Ward a division of a city or town for elections, police, and other purposes. A person, especially a child, or incompetent, placed by the court under the care of a guardian. A corrector, room, or other division of a prison, hospital, or asylum
Warranty A promise to defend the truth of a fact.
warranty deed A deed conveying land which guarantees that the title is free of defects to marketability.
with prejudice A declaration (usually in connection with an order of dismissal) which ends the right to further relief; it prevents either party from filing future complaints based on the same claim or cause of action.
without prejudice A declaration (usually in connection with an order of dismissal) which preserves any rights or privileges that a party may have to file a future complaint based upon the same claim or cause of action.
witness One who has personal knowledge about facts related to a case; one who can testify about what she has seen, heard, or otherwise observed.
witness One who, being present, personally sees or perceives a thing; a beholder, spectator, or eyewitness.
writ of execution Order of a court after judgment commanding a court officer to seize property in satisfaction of the judgment.
Created by: malrey3