Black's Law Dictionary / Edition 8

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Overview

Considered the most valuable reference tool available to the legal community, Black's Pocket Dictionary provides more than 13,000 clear, concise, and precise definitions. The essential companion dictionary to the Standard edition and as a stand-alone tool, Black's Pocket Dictionary also includes a dictionary guide and the complete U.S. Constitution. Black's is cited by judges and lawyers more than any other legal dictionary, comes recommended by law faculty, and is available in the pocket format and a variety of other useful editions.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
An essential for every lawyer's library, this venerable 1891 classic has been completely revised and updated by Bryan Garner, a lawyer with a lifetime passion for language, and includes almost 5,000 new definitions with quotations from important cases.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780314151995
  • Publisher: West Academic
  • Publication date: 6/28/2004
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Edition number: 8
  • Pages: 1810
  • Product dimensions: 7.50 (w) x 10.25 (h) x 2.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Acknowledged by linguists and lawyers alike as THE authority in legal language and usage, his influence is both far-reaching and profound. Mr. Garner has has a hand in editing the most important legal references produced in the last decade, as well as in training lawyers and judges on sharpening and clarifying their own legal writing. In short, no one better bridges the worlds of law and language--nor is better suited to take on the classic work and make it better.
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Table of Contents

Some of the new terms appearing for the first time:

Amber Alert
Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act
antispamming law
aspirin wars
autonomy privacy
Baumes Law
Border and Transportation Security
Directorate
Bush doctrine
chad
Child Online Protection Act
cyberpiracy
cyberterrorism
Digital Millennium Copyright Act
digital signature
e-contract
e-money
ethnic cleansing
grandparent rights
hot-potato rule
inscrutable fault
internally displaced person
Lemon test
mahr
Miller trust
Munchausen syndrome by proxy
mutual-fund wrap account
opt-out class
Outer Space Treaty
prophylactic cost
repressed-memory syndrome
reverse Jencks material
Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act
stealth juror
Strategic National Stockpile
terrorism insurance
Vaughn index
zero-tolerance policy

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Interviews & Essays

Exclusive Author Essay
"Can an educated American say ____?" You can fill in the blank with any number of words and phrases. My friend and myself. It's me. Between you and I. Question as to whether. Fulsome praise. Hopefully. Final destination. Orientate. Center around. Someplace. Snuck. Seldom ever. Uncategorically. There are thousands more. These are questions that I field weekly in professional writing seminars. I do my best to answer them in A Dictionary of Modern American Usage.

One perennial question emerges when people ask about grammar: "What grammar book do you recommend?" What the person really wants isn't a grammar at all, but a good dictionary of usage. This underappreciated genre has alphabetical listings of all the most common trouble spots in the language. It's partly grammar ("fused participles"), partly word choice ("self-deprecating" vs. "self-depreciating"), and sometimes a mixture of the two ("It's me" vs. "It's I"). There are dozens of essays on subjects as diverse as Airlinese, Jargon, Punctuation, and Subject-Verb Agreement.

The language is shifting under your very tongue in ways that might surprise you. A Dictionary of Modern American Usage is intended to divert and entertain while providing guidance on where to stand if you want to avoid linguistic fault lines. My guidance is a blend of the traditional and the modern. I favor keeping our continuity with the past without letting the language become petrified. And I try to be down-to-earth. So forget "It's I."

How did I get into this?

At the age of 15, I realized that the use of the English language was my main intellectual interest. That being so, David Foster Wallace says in Harper's magazine that I must have been "repeatedly and savagely wedgied" as a teenager. Not so -- though I take his point. Actually, I kept my long forays to the college library a little secret within the family and still lettered in golf, led the high school band as drum major, and acted in school plays. By my junior year, when I had acquired the habit of occasionally using big words ("epizeuxis" and "ignoratio elenchi" were among my favorites), I was too big for the kind of abuse Wallace imagines. It took a few more years for me to outgrow this annoying habit of using big words, but in the meantime I worked assiduously to build my vocabulary.

And I had discovered my favorite literary genre: the dictionary of usage. H. W. Fowler, Wilson Follett, Theodore Bernstein, and Eric Partridge had become my literary heroes. By the time I was ready for college, I had essentially memorized everything that these writers had said about English usage -- in the same way that other kids memorize sports stats or car models. Not just any linguistic facts interested me: They had to be genuinely useful facts. They had to help me (or anyone) write better.

In college, studying liberal arts at the University of Texas, I was drawn to courses on literature, rhetoric, literary criticism, and the history of the English language. My plan was still, as it had been in high school, to become a lawyer and use my rhetorical skills within the law. But my success in publishing articles on Shakespearean language -- and the encouragement of my undergraduate mentors, the Shakespearean specialist John W. Velz and the linguistic historian Thomas Cable -- led me to flirt with pursuing a Ph.D. in English, with a focus on lexicography. I almost went that route.

But no. My fiancée (now my wife), a graduate student in political science, said she was convinced that I was meant to be a lawyer -- not an English professor. I agreed. When law school began, I was immediately struck by how many archaic phrases -- Elizabethan phrases -- were popping up in the judicial decisions I was reading. I went to the library to see what scholars had written about legal language, found very little to my liking, and immediately decided to write a book about legal language. Within the first week of law school, I had named it A Dictionary of Modern Legal Usage. I wanted it to do for lawyers what H. W. Fowler had done for writers at large.

I ended up founding LawProse, Inc., which provides seminars for lawyers on brief writing and contract drafting. I wrote or edited more books on law and language, most notably The Elements of Legal Style and Black's Law Dictionary. I've now produced four editions of Black's -- the unabridged deluxe, the regular unabridged, the abridged, and the pocket. My whole approach to legal lexicography has been to try to make the law as accessible as possible to everyone -- to persuade lawyers that it's not in their best interests to use highfalutin jargon and gobbledygook. After all, avoiding these bad habits promotes clear thinking.

But my first love is the English language -- not just the legal part of the English language. So when Oxford asked me to write a dictionary of American usage, I was delighted at the prospect of broadening my horizons and dealing with the English language as a whole. Since I was following Fowler's model, I called it A Dictionary of Modern American Usage. The idea was to provide a guide for educated Americans who want an answer to the question, "Can I say this and still have credibility with readers and listeners?" My intended readers, quite simply, are educated people -- students, businesspeople, professors, novelists, nonfiction writers, newscasters, you name it -- who want authoritative guidance on where the language stands today.

"May I split an infinitive?" (Yes, but first you really need to know what one is.) "May I split a verb phrase?" (You'd better: Any other placement is awkward. And grammarians have consistently said -- there's a split!-- this since 1782!) "May I end a sentence with a preposition?" (If you want to. I have a two-page essay on the subject.) "Should I use the serial comma?" (Yes, unless you're a journalist.) On and on the questions go. My rulings -- since I'm playing the role of judge -- add up to a kind of linguistic jurisprudence. Like any judge, I have biases. Mine are in favor of clarity, simplicity, and credibility. (Bryan A. Garner)

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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 18, 2008

    A reviewer

    As student intending to become an attorney or paralegal, this book is a cornerstone that will be used and referred to for many years. A great hint for a Christmas present if you are a student. If you want one to throw in a backpack, get the paperback - it's lighter - but if you appreciate the feel and heft of a truly fine book, this one is for you.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 27, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Black's Law Dictionary

    I must say that the dictionary was indeed easy to use and extremely helpful in writing up my cases. I find that the dictionary is the one book that every Lincoln Douglass debater must have in their library. The book is also useful when looking at the Supreme Law of the Land for it has a copy of the Constitution that was also helpful. All in all I say that the format and structure of the dictionary was by far one of the best that I have seen and I am greatful that I bought it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 23, 2009

    Excellent Reference Book

    Excellent reference for anyone who wants a general understanding of legal terms.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 17, 2007

    Excellent Tool

    Excellent resource. Helps clarify many legal terms. Every law student and lawyer should have a copy.

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    Posted July 23, 2009

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    Posted November 29, 2008

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