Garner’s Dictionary of Legal Usage

OUP has recently published a third edition of Garner’s legal English usage dictionary. A Dictionary of Modern Legal Usage, 2nd ed. 1995 is followed by Garner’s Dictionary of Legal Usage, 3rd ed., 2011.

I haven’t seen it yet, but on amazon you can look at some pages. The pages I saw looked identical to those in the second edition. (Ah, but it probably was the second edition! you have to be careful with amazon) The (new) legal writer says it now cites its quotations, which will be good. And the publisher says there are 800 new entries and new senses of existing entries, more on immigration and intellectual property, and more on British usage. And:

Influential writers and editors rely on Garner’s Dictionary of Legal Usage daily. It is an essential resource for practicing lawyers, legal scholars, and libraries of all sizes and types, functioning as both a style guide and a law dictionary, guiding writers to distinguish between true terms of law and mere jargon and illustrating recommended forms of expression. Common blunders are discussed in ways that will discourage writers from any further use. The origins of frequently used expressions are described with engaging prose. Collectively, there is no better resource for approaching legal writing in a logical, clear, and error-free way.

Personally I don’t look at the 2nd ed. daily. I’ve found it very useful for detail on the ‘shall’ problem. It does contain a lot of stuff I don’t use, such as which of a pair of words to use (‘en banc; in banc; in banco; in bank’; ‘oblige; obligate’) so I suppose some people use it as a style guide, and certainly the 3rd ed. may be better for UK writers there.

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