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Good, or bad, it is believed that this book is unique. It had no predecessor and has no rival. Its Idea is, not only that it may be of frequent practical utility to the English-speaking lawyer but, that it may become the authoritative Interpreter of the English of Affairs for the British Empire ; and, incidentally, forge a link in the golden chain of common interest and community of feeling which binds together its various peoples.

The decisions of the English Judges are, and will remain, the central source whence this authoritative exposition must come, though Irish, Scotch, and Colonial, decisions should harmonize and amplify. To formulate the English judicial interpretations from the earliest times down to the end of the Nineteenth Century and therewith to blend the statutory definitions of the High Court of Parliament has been the endeavour of this edition; incorporating a not inconsiderable treatment of Irish decisions, and some from Scotland and the United States.

To Lord Lindley sincerest thanks are tendered for the use so kindly allowed of his MS. Word-Book, containing a list of many words and phrases judicially interpreted, with the names of the cases in which such interpretations were to be found; also to Mr. Justice Gainsford-Bruce for a like courtesy; also to Mr. J. H. Redman for the MS. Word-Book of the late Mr. W. R. Cole, and to Mr. A. R. Rudall for his MS. Word-Book.

To the late Sir Henry Jenkyns, K.C.B., and to Sir Courtenay P. Ilbert, K.C.S.I., warm thanks are due for their great aid in reference to the statutory interpretations, — aid so kindly obtained by the Lord Chancellor.

A deep obligation has also been incurred to many Members of the Bar for their criticisms, suggestions, and notes of cases, to all of whom grateful thanks are tendered, especially mentioning, Mr. J. B. Matthews, Mr. E. A. Scratchley, Mr. G. Broke Freeman, Mr. F. B. Palmer, Mr. P. F. Wheeler, and Mr. R. A. McCall, K.C. To the first two named and to the Author's sons, Mr. Lewis Stroud, and Mr. Herbert Stroud, the work is exceptionally indebted for their care in revising the proof sheets.

It is in contemplation to issue periodical Supplements, so as to keep the book up to date and further develope its Idea. To this end, aid and suggestions from those intimately acquainted with the judicial literature and decisions of Scotland, of Ireland, and of the British Dominions beyond the Seas, would be highly esteemed.

The Preface to the First Edition is here reprinted, the explanations in which are adopted, except that Statutory Definitions are now brought within the scope of the work. It is not pretended that every such definition is cited, still less that they are all set out at length; but it is believed that, approximately, all of practical utility, down to the end of the Nineteenth Century, are referred to, whilst many are given fully or blended with judicial interpretations.

The principle of cross references (by simply printing words referred to in SMALL CAPITALS) previously adopted, has been, in this edition, very extensively and carefully elaborated.

To make conciseness still more brief a number of grammalogues have been invented. These are purposely bizarre, for their better remembrance; their explanation will be found in the Table of Abbreviations.

Again hearty thanks are given to Mr. R. Riches, Librarian of the Inns of Court Bar Library, for his numerous suggestions; and also

to Mr. R. A. Riches, Assistant Librarian, for his careful verification of the many thousands of references herein contained.

A sincere acknowledgement is also recorded of the diligent services rendered by the Author's clerk, Mr. E. T. Osborne, especially in getting the “copy” ready for the printer.

One further word in sending off this endeavour:- the ambition of the book is that it may be a living entity to business people in the various societies forming the British Empire. The first edition obtained considerable success; that the work, in its varied and much extended form, may prove a much nearer approach to its rimal motive, is the earnest hope of one who has laboured strenuously for the accomplishment of its Idea.


Easter, 1903.



This work in no sense competes with, nor does it cover the same ground as, the Law Lexicons of Jacob, Tomlins, Wharton, or Sweet. As its name imports, it is a Dictionary of the English Language (in its phrases as well as single words), so far as that language has received interpretation by the Judges.

Its chief aim is that it may be a practical companion to the English-speaking lawyer, not only in the Mother Country, but also in the Colonies and Dependencies of the Queen. The hope is also indulged that it may be not without utility to the man of business, nor without interest to the student of word-lore.

Its few archaisms will, possibly, be excused ; for “Of all these you shall read in ancient bookes, charters, deeds and records: and to the end that our student should not be discouraged for want of knowledge when he meeteth with them, we have armed him with the signification of them, to the end he may proceed in his reading with alacrity, and set upon and know how to worke into with delight these rough mines of hidden treasure ” (Co. Litt. 5 b, 6 a).

Interpretation Clauses in Acts of Parliament are not, as a rule, within its scope, unless when themselves judicially interpreted. But in some few instances of general importance this rule has been departed from, whilst the important Interpretation Act of 1889 is given in extenso in the Appendix.

In many instances where a word, or phrase, has been determined in a special sense, or brevity seemed preferable to a lengthy definition, only a reference to the authorities has been given.

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