Black's Law Dictionary

Black's Law Dictionary is the most widely used law dictionary in the United States. Henry Campbell Black (1860–1927) was the author of the first two editions of the dictionary.

Black's Law Dictionary
Image of the 7th edition
EditorBryan A. Garner
CountryUnited States
PublisherWest (Thomson Reuters)
Publication date
1891 (1st)
1910 (2nd)
1933 (3rd)
1951 (4th)
1968 (4thR)
1979 (5th)
1990 (6th)
1999 (7th)
2004 (8th)
2009 (9th)
2014 (10th)
2019 (11th)
WebsiteBlack's Law Dictionary


The first edition was published in 1891 by West Publishing, while the second edition was published in 1910.[1] The sixth and earlier editions of the book additionally provided case citations for the term cited, which was viewed by lawyers as its most useful feature, providing a useful starting point with leading cases. The invention of the Internet made legal research easier therefore many state- or circuit-specific case citations and outdated or overruled case citations were omitted from the seventh edition in 1999. The eighth edition introduced a unique system of perpetually updated case citations and cross-references to legal encyclopedias. The current edition is the eleventh, published in 2019.[2]

As many legal terms are derived from a Latin root word, the dictionary provides a pronunciation guide for such terms.[3] In addition, the applicable entries provide pronunciation transcriptions pursuant to those found among North American practitioners of law or medicine.


An online version of the tenth edition can be accessed through the paid Westlaw legal information service, and is available as an application for iOS devices.[4]

The second edition of Black's Law Dictionary, published in 1910, is now in the public domain and is widely reproduced online. References to case law are out-of-date, and that edition of the dictionary omits legal terms that have since come into use and does not reflect contemporary changes in how legal terms are used.[5]


Pocket editionsEdit

Non-English editionsEdit

  • Blackův právnický slovník. Complete translation of 6th edition into Czech. Victoria Publishing, Prague, 1993. ISBN 80-85605-23-6.
  • Āqāʼī, Bahman. Farhang-i ḥuqūqī-i Bahman: Ingilīsī-Fārsī: bar asās-i Black's law dictionary (1999)[6] (Fārsī)
  • Muqtadirah-yi Qaumī Zabān. Qānūnī, Angrezī-Urdu lug̲h̲at: Blaiks lāʼ dikshanarī se māk̲h̲ūz (Based on Black's law dictionary) / nigrān, Fatiḥ Muḥammad Malik (2002)[7] ISBN 969-474-084-3. (Urdu)

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ OCLC 33831602
  2. ^
  3. ^ Macleod, P. R. (1997). Latin in legal writing: an inquiry into the use of Latin in the modern legal world. BCL Rev., 39, 235.
  4. ^ "Black's Law Dictionary App". Westlaw. Thomson Reuters. Retrieved 30 October 2021.
  5. ^ Whisner, Mary (20 February 2009). "Dictionaries Make Strange Bedfellows". Language of the Law: 93–108.
  6. ^ NCSU Libraries
  7. ^ "University of Toronto Library". Archived from the original on 2012-01-12. Retrieved 2011-10-25.

External linksEdit