Conjunctions and the Constitution
Formatting in Word

Looking it up

When construing a statute, lawyers and judges often resort to dictionaries to show the “plain meaning” of the text. But with a multitude of dictionaries to choose from, which one should you use? In this article, Kurt X. Metzmeier recommends a scientific approach to that choice:

First, a researcher should consult several of the respected unabridged dictionaries. Second, the dictionary selected should be relatively contemporaneous with the text interpreted. Third, when a term of art for a particular trade, profession or industry is under analysis, an advocate should also consult specialized dictionaries. Finally, when citing a dictionary definition, an attorney must be prepared to defend the chosen source, just as he or she would for any other secondary source.

Kurt X. Metzmeier, You Can Look it Up: The Use of Dictionaries in Interpreting Statutes, Louisville Bar Briefs, pp. 14-15, July 2007. Available at SSRN:


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