A-Z Comprehensive List of Important Legal Words and Phrases

By | October 15, 2020
List of Important Legal Words and Phrases

Legal Bites brings to a comprehensive list of important Legal Words and Phrases. There are many different legal words that are used regularly in courts and for different judicial proceedings. Learn them today and master your skills.

A-Z Comprehensive List of Important Legal Words and Phrases

A | List of Important Legal Words and Phrases

A FortioriBy so much the stronger reason, i.e., all the more
A PosterioriArgument from the consequence to the antecedent
A PrioriDeductive; from earlier i. e., original or antecedent; argument from antecedent to the consequent; not empirical
A PrendreSee Profit
Ab AntiquoFrom Ancient times
Ab ExtraFrom without
Ab InitioFrom the beginning
Ab Intestato‘Succession ab intestate’ means succession to the property of a person who has not made his will
Ab IntraFrom within
Absolute sententia expositore non indigetPlain language does not need an interpreter
AbsolviturAn acquittal; a decree in favour of the defendant
Absque Impetitione VastiWithout impeachment of waste
Absque InjuriaWithout any infringement of a right
Absque TalicausaWithout such cause
Acquitas factum habet quod fieri oportuitEquity regards as done that which ought to have been done. Equity treats a contract to do a thing as producing the state of affairs which the parties intended should exist when the contract had been duly performed
ActionaryA shareholder
Act in paisA judicial or other act performed out of court and not a matter of record
Actus ReusWrongful act
Ad alium diemAt another day
Ad audiendumTo hear
Ad DiemAt the day
Ad Filum AquaeTo the thread or centre line of the stream
Ad.Filum viseTo the centre of the way or road
Ad FinemAt or near end
Ad HocFor this
Ad hominemTo the man ; personal
Ad IdemAgreeing in the essential point
Ad InfinitumWithout limit
Ad InterimIn the meantime
Ad LitemOn a suit or action
Ad LongumAt length
Ad Miseri CordiumIn pity
Ad NauseumDisgusting
Ad ReferendumFor further consideration
Ad ValoremAccording to the value
Alia EnormiaOther wrongs. A declaration in trespass usually concluded thus ; “and other wrongs to the plaintiff then did” etc. [Rawson]
AliasOtherwise called
AlibiA plea by a person accused of an offence that he was ‘elsewhere’ – that having regard to the time and place when and where he is alleged to have committed the offence, he could no have been present.
Alieni JurisUnder another’s authority. See Sui • juris
Alieno soloIn the land of another ; on other’s land
Alio IntuitieWith another intent than that alleged, i, e., not bona fide
Amicus Curiae(Friend of Court) ; A stander-by, not being a party to, or interested in, the cause, who informs the Court of any decided case or other fact of which it can take judicial notice. [Rawson]
Animus deserendiIntention to desert
Animus dominiThe intention of possession and ownership by entry or user
Animus possidendiThe intention of possessing
Animus revertendiThe intention of returning
AnteA reference to the previous part of the same book or statement
Ante BellumBefore the war
Ante Litem MotamBefore litigation commenced
Arbitrium est JudiciumAn award is a judgment
Audi alteram partemHear the other side. Both sides should be heard before a decision is arrived at
Aute De FeAct of faith
Autre (Auter) DroitIn right of another, e. g., a trustee holds in the right of his cestui que trust
Autre Fois AcquitFormerly acquitted. A plea in criminal cases that one has been already acquitted on the same charge
Autre Fois AttaintFormerly attainted. A plea in criminal cases that one is still attainted
Autre Fois ConvictFormerly – convicted. A plea in criminal cases that one was already convicted on the same charge
A Vinculo MatrimoniFrom the bond of matrimony

B | List of Important Legal Words and Phrases

Bastard EigneIf a man has a natural son, and afterwards marry the mother, and by her have a legitimate son, the latter is called mulier puisne and the elder son Bastard eigne [Rawson]
Bille VeraA true bill
Bona FideWith good faith, i. e., without fraud or unfair dealing
Brevia TestaShort attested memoranda, originally introduced to obviate the uncertainty arising from parol feoffments : hence modern conveyances have gradually arisen. [Rawson]

C | List of Important Legal Words and Phrases

Cadit QueslioThe argument is at end
Camera StellataThe Star Chamber, a Court originally created to prevent the obstruction cf justice in the inferior courts by undue influence
Cassetur Billa(Let the bill be quashed) ; an entry on the record that the plaintiff withdraws his bill
Casus BelliAn occurrence giving rise to or justifying war
Casus FaederisA case stipulated by treaty or which comes within the terms of compact
Casus OmissusA point unprovided for by statute
Causa CausansThe immediate cause ; same as causa proxima
Causa ‘MortisIn respect of death
Causa Proxima[See Causa causans]
Causa sine qua nonA cause without which the effect would not have been caused
Caveat EmptorLet the purchaser beware. Where the purchaser does not require a warranty, he, in most cases, has to take the risk of the article not being of the desired quality. [Rawson]
Caveat ViatorLet the traveller beware. This applies where gratuitous permission is given to persons to pass over private land, who must take the risk of accident arising from negligence of the owner. [Rawson]
Cepi corpusI have taken the body and have it ready
Cestui Que TrustThe person who possesses the equitable or beneficial right to property, the legal estate of which is vested in a trustee. Also called a beneficiary
Clam Viaut PrecarioBy stealth, force or licence
Communis error facit jusCommon or universal error makes law
Conge D’ AccorderLeave to accord or agree
Conge D’ ElireLeave to choose
Consideratum Est Per CuriamIt has been considered by the court
Contractue uberrima fidesContract requiring of utmost goodwill
Contra Bonos MoresAgainst good morals
Coram Non JudiceIn presence of a person who is not Ridge
Coram ParibusBefore his peers
Corpus delictiThe body of facts which constitute an offence; gist or of the offence
Corpus possessionisThe thing possessed
Cry De PaisHue and cry
Culpa Lata or MagnaGross neglect
Culpa LevisSlight or excusable neglect
Cum Grano SalisWith a grain of salt
Cum Testamento AnnexoWith the will annexed
Curia Advisari Vult(Abbreviated as cur. adv. vult, or C.A.V.) The desires to consider
(In) Custodia LegisIn the custody of the law

D| List of Important Legal Words and Phrases

Damage-Feaisant or FaisantDoing damage
Damnosa HaereditasA disadvantageous or unprofitable inheritance
Damnum Absque Injuria, also Damnum Sine InjuriaLoss of by an act is not wrongful
DataWhat is given ; the promises upon which an argument is based ; certain given facts from which others may be inferred
De Bene EsseTo allow a thing to be done provisionally and out of due course. This phrase is used when anything is allowed to be done at a present time with the view of its being examined at a future time, and then standing or falling according to the merit of the thing in its own nature.
Debitum FundiA real debt, a charge on land
Decree nisiA decree is said to be made nisi when it is to take effect after a specified period or after the person affected by it fails to show cause against it within a certain time
De Die in DiemFrom day to day; continuously
Dedi et ConcessiI have given and granted
Dedimus PotestatumWe have given the power
De Facto, De JureIn fact, by right
Defectus SanguinsFailure of issue
DehorsOutside of; unconnected with; unrelated to
De jureIn law, independent of what obtains in fact
De minimis non, curat lexThe law takes no account of very trifling matters [S. 95, I.P.C.]
Delegatus non potest delegareA delegated power cannot be further delegated
Doli in capaxIncapable of malice. In Indian Law, this conclusive presumption has been adopted for children under seven years of age. [S. 82. I.P.C.]
De NovoAnew, afresh
Dies NonDay on which no legal business can be transacted, e. g., Sunday. Christmas Day
Dom Proc (Domus procerum)The House of Lords
Donatio Mortis CausaA gift of personal property in prospect of death
Dum SolaWhilst single or unmarried
Dureate bene placitoDuring the pleasure

E | List of Important Legal Words and Phrases

Edictal CitationPassages or names quoted on edicts
Ejusdem GenerisOf the same kind or nature
En ventre sa mereChild in womb
Eminent domainThe right of power of the government to take private property for public use on making just compensation therefor. The power of a Sovereign State to take or to authorise the taking of any property with in its jurisdiction for public use without the owner’s consent
Ex Abundanti CautelaFrom abundant or excessive caution
Ex CathedraWith the weight of one in authority
Executio est finis et fructus legisExecution is the end and fruit of the law
Ex Debito JustitiaeFrom what is due of right
Ex-delictoFrom a delict, tort, fault, crime or malfeasance
Exempli Gratia(Abbreviated as e.g.,) For the purpose of example
Ex Mero MotuOf his own accord
Ex OfficioBy virtue of his office
Ex pacto illicito non oritur actioNo action arises on an illegal agreement
Ex parteExpression used to signify something done or said by one person not in the presence of his opponent
Ex Post FactoMade after the occurrence
Ex Relatione AmiciNarrated to the reporter by a friend
Ex turpi causaFrom a base cause
Ex Ve TerminiFrom the force or meaning of the expression

F | List of Important Legal Words and Phrases

FacsimileMade it like ; an exact copy
Factum ValetThe “fact which cannot be altered” though it should not have been done
Fait accompliAn accomplished fact
Fait EnrolleA deed enrolled
Falsa DemonstratioThe incorrectly described quantity has to be rejected as falsa demonstratio. [Irongaobi Pisciculture Co-operative Society v Chief Commissioner of Manipur, AIR 1969 Manipur 84 (87)]
FangA thief taken with the fang is one caught having the stolen property upon him
Felo De SeA felon with respect to himself ; a suicide
Feme CovertA married woman
Femi SoleAn unmarried woman
Ferae NaturaeWild animals
FaitLet it be done ; a decree
Flagrante DelictoIn the very act of committing the crime
Fiat justitiaLet justice be done
Fiat justitia, ruat caelumLet justice be done, though the heavens fall
FoetusA baby in the womb
ForumA Court
Forum OriginisThe Court of the country of a man’s domicile by birth
Functus OfficioThe phrase is used of one who having discharged his duty has terminated his authority or appointment

G | List of Important Legal Words and Phrases

Gestio Pro HaeredeBehaviour as heir ; conduct by which the heir renders himself liable for his ancestor’s debts, as by taking possession of title-deeds, receiving rent, etc. [Rowson]
Gilda MercatoriaA mercantile meeting or assembly
Glebae AscriptitiiAssigned to the land

| List of Important Legal Words and Phrases

Haeredes ProximiHeirs begotten ; children
Haeredes RemotioresHeirs riot begotten, e.g., grand children and. others descending in a direct line
Haereditas JacensAn inheritance not taken up
Haeres FaetusHeir appointed by will
Haeres NatusHeir by descent
Hors de combatUnfit to light, disabled

| List of Important Legal Words and Phrases

Ibidim, Ibid, IdIn the same place, volume of case
Idem Per IdemAn illustration or proof
Idem SonansSounding alike
litera LegisLetter of legislation
ImprimaturA licence to print or publish
In Alio LocoIn another place
In Arbitrio JudicisAt the discretion of the Judge
In Articulo MortisAt the point of death
In Auter (Autre) DroitIn another’s right
In Custodia LegisIn the custody of the law
In EsseActually existing ; as opposed to in posse : in a state of possible existence
In ExtensoFrom beginning to end ; leaving out nothing
In ExtremisAt the last gasp
In Favorem Libertatis or VitaeIn favour of liberty or life
In FieriIn course of accomplishment or completion
In Forma PauperisAs a ‘pauper’ . See Pauper
In Gemio LegisIn the bosom of the law
In InvidiumTo excite prejudice
In InvitumAgainst a person’s will
In LimineAt the outset
In Loco ParentisWhen a person assumes the moral obligation of providing for an infant as a parent should, he is said to be in loco parentis i.e., in the place of a parent
In Medias ResTo the heart of the matter
In NotisIn the notes
In FaisDone without legal formalities
In pari delictoWhen both parties are equally in fault, in equal fault
In Pari MateriaIn an analogous case
In personamAn act or proceeding done or directed against or with reference to a specific person
In possePossibility of being as opposed to in esse-in a state of being Achikd en ventre sa mere is a child in posse but the law regards it as in esse for all purposes which are for its benefit
In presentiAt the present time ; at once ; immediately effective
In ReIn the matter of
In remAn act or proceeding done or directed with reference to no specific person or with reference to all whom it might concern
In SolidoIn the whole ; entirely
In Status quoIn an unaltered old state
In TerroremFor the purpose of intimidating
In Totidem VerbisIn so many words
In TotoIn the whole ; totally
IncipiturIt is begun
Injuria sine damnoInjury without damage ; am infringement of a right without causing damage
Intelligible differentiaDifference capable of being understood. A factor that distinguishes one in different state or class from another which is capable of being understood
Inter AliaAmong other things
Intra ViresWithin its powers, as opposed to ultra vires
Ipse Dixit(He himself and it) ; a mere or bare assertion resting on one’s own authority
Ipso FactoBy the very fact itself
Ipso jureBy the law, itself
Ire Ad LargumTo go at large

J | List of Important Legal Words and Phrases

Judicium DeiJudgment of God
Juris Et De JureOf law and from law. A conclusive presumption, which cannot be rebutted, is so called
Jus Ad RemAn inchoate and imperfect right
Jus communeThe common and natural rule of right
Jus DesponendiThe right of disposing of property
Jus dicere et non ins dareTo declare the law, not to make it
Jus in PersonamA right against another person to oblige him to do or not to do something
Jus In ReA complete and full right to a thing to the exclusion of all other men
Jus non scriptumThe unwritten law
Jus PrecariumA right depending on request, not enforceable at law
Jus PrivatumThe private or civil or municipal law
Jus RelictaeThe right of a widow in her deceased husband’s personality
Jus TertiiThe right of a third person
Juxta Formum StatutiAccording to the form cf the statute

| List of Important Legal Words and Phrases

Legitimi HaeredesLegitimate heirs-agnates
Leonina SocietasA partnership in which one gets the lion’s share
Lex DomiciliiThe law of the country of one’s domicile
Lex ForiThe law of the country where an action is brought
Lex Loci ContractusThe law of the country where the contract was made
Lex Loci DelictiThe law of the country where a tort has been committed
Lex Loci Rei SitaeThe law of the place where the thing is situate
Lex MercatoriaThe mercantile law
Lex non cogit ad impossibiliaThe law dues not compel the impossible
Lex Non ScriptaThe unwritten law
Lex OrdinandiSame as Lex fori
Lex ScriptaThe written or statute law
Lex TalionisThe law of realisation
Lex tallienes(Law of retaliation)
Liberum TenementumFrank. or free tenement
Lis pendensA pendig suit
Loco Regit ActumThe place governs the act
Locum TenensA deputy
Locus in QuoThe place in which
Locus PoenitentiaeA chance of repentence
Locus StandiThe right of a party to appear and be heard by a court of justice

M | List of Important Legal Words and Phrases

Mala FidesBad faith as opposed to bona fide
Mala in SeActs which are wrong in themselves whether prohibited by human laws or not as distinguished from mala prohibita.
Mala PraxisBad management
Mala ProhibitaActs prohibited by human law
Malitia PraecogitaMalice atore-thought.
Malo GrateIn spite ; unwillingly
Malus usuoA bad custom
Mens reaA guilty mind
MesneMiddle or intermediate
Mesne profitsThe profits which a person in wrongful possession of the property actually received or might with ordinary diligence have received therefrom together with interest on such profits excluding the profits due to improvement made by the person in wrongful possession
Miseri CordiaAn arbitrary americament or punshment
Modo Et FormaIn the manner and the form mentioned
Modus operandiMode of operating ; the way in which a thing, cause etc. operates ; the way in which a person goes to work ; a distinct pattern or method of procedure thought to be characteristics of an individual criminal and habitually followed by him
Modus vivendiThe manner of living ; a way of life
Mutatis MutandisWith the necessary changes being made. When there is provision in a statute to apply certain law or its provision mutatis mutandis, the same cannot imply delegation, or abdication of legislative power. [Debi Mata v State of W.B., 76 CWN 308: AIR 1972 Cal 497]

N | List of Important Legal Words and Phrases

Nemine contradicente(Nem, con.) Non contradicting
NemoNo one, nobody
NexusBond, link or connection
NisiA decree, rule or order of the Court is said to be made nisi when it is not to be of force unless the party against whom it is made fails within a certain time to show cause against, i.e., a good reason why it should not be made. [Rawson]
Nisi PriusA Nisi Prius trial now means a trial before Judge with a jury
Nolle ProsequiTo be unwilling to prosecute
Nolens VolenseWhether willing or unwilling
Nomen generalissiumExtremely common name
Non AssumpsitHe did not promise
Non bis in idemNonn twice for the same
Non CepitHe took not
Non Compos MentisPerson of unsound mind
Non ConsessitHe did not grant
Non ConstatIt is not certain, it does not follow
Non DemisitHe did not demise
Non est factumIt is a defence in an action founded on a document when there has been a mistake as to the very nature of the transaction
Non ObstanteNotwithstanding
Non SequiturIt does not follow
Noscitur a SociisOne is known by his companions; the meaning of a word or expression is to be gathered from the surrounding words, that is from the context
Novos Actus InterveniensA new act intervening
Nudum PactumA bare contract, i. e., one not made under seal and for no consideration
Nullius FiliusA son of nobody, i.e., a natural child

| List of Important Legal Words and Phrases

Obiter DictumA saying by the way
Onus ProbandiOnus of proof
Ore TenusBy the word of mouth

| List of Important Legal Words and Phrases

Pacta sunt servandaContracts are to be kept
Pari MateriaHaving same matter, text or language
Pari PassuWith equal steps
Pars RationabilisReasonable part
Particeps CriminisA partner in crime
Participient CriminisSharer of a crime
Pater FamiliasA sui juris and head of the family
Pendente LiteDuring pendency of litigation
Per annumBy the year
Per CapitaBy the number of individuals
Per Centum ad ValoremPercentage according to the value
Per diemBy the day
Per mensemBy the month
Per StirpesBy the number of families
Per IncuriamThought want of care
Per QuadWhereby
Per SeBy itself
Persona DesignataOne described as an individual
Persona grataAn acceptable person (in diplomatic parlance)
Persona non grataAn unacceptable person (in diplomatic parlance)
Pessimi ExempliOf the worst example
Plenum dominiumFull ownership, the right of property in a thing coupled with the right to its. use and enjoyment
Post Litem MotamAfter the starting of litigation
Prima FacieOn the first aspect
Prima ImpressionisOf first impression
Privatum Commodum Publico CetidPrivate advantage must yield to public
Pro FormaAs a matter of form
Pro Hac ViceFor this occasion
Pro-RataIn proportion
Pro Bono PublicoFor the public good
Pro tantoTo that extent
Pro TemporeFor the time being, temporarily, provisionally
Proprio VigoreBy its own force
Public JurisOf public right
PuisneLater born

Q | List of Important Legal Words and Phrases

QuaIn the character of, in virtue of being
QuarantineAs must be deserved
Quantum ValebantAs much they were worth
Que Est Eadem(Which is the same), a form of plea in actions of trespass and the like, traversing the time and place named in the declaration. [Rawson]
Quia Timet injunctionWhere an injunction is granted to prevent a threatened as distinguished from an existing wrongful act, it is called quia timet injunction
Quid Pro QuoSomething for something; a consideration
Quo AnimoWith that mind
Quoad HocAs to this
Quod cumThat whereas
Quod RecuperetThat he do recover the debt or damages, a final judgment for a plaintiff in a personal action
Quod UltraAs to the rest
Q. V.-Quod Vide(Which see) ; a means of reference to the word which precedes

R | List of Important Legal Words and Phrases

Raison d’ EtreReason or justification for existence.
Ratio DecidendiThe reason for the decision in a cause or matter
Ratio LegisThe reasons or occasion of the law
Ratione TenuraeBy reason of tenure or occupation
Recius in CuriaOne against whom no accusation is made
Reductio Ad AbsurdumThe method of disproving an argument – showing that it leads to an absurd conclusion
Regulae GeneralesGeneral rules
Res CommunesThings common to all
Res GestaeAll things are done in the course of a transaction
Res IntegraA matter not yet decided
Res Ipsa Loquitur(The thing speaks for itself). A matter in which no proof is required. A phrase used in actions for injuries due to negligence
Res JudicataA matter already judicially decided
Res NulliusA thing that has no owner
Res PublicaeThings of the state dedicated to the use of citizens
Restitutio in IntegrumThe rescinding of a contract or transaction on the ground of fraud, etc, so as to restore the parties to their original position. [Rawson]
Rule nisiA rule or order upon condition that is to become absolute when the cause is shown to the contrary

| List of Important Legal Words and Phrases

S. C.Same case
Sans RecoursWithout recourse
Scienter(Knowingly, wilfully), an allegation in the pleading that the defendant did the thing in question willfully. It must be proved in an action of deceit. [Rawson]
Secundum Allegataet probataAccording to the pleadings and the proofs
Secus(Otherwise), to the contrary effect
Semble(It seems). Used in Reports to show that a point is not decided directly, but maybe inferred
Sine DieWithout day; indefinitely
Sine ProbleWithout issue
Sine Qua NonAn indispensable requisite
SolatiumA sum paid to an injured party over and above the actual damages by way of solace to his wounded feelings
Spes SuccessionisThe chance of an heir-apparent succeeding to an estate
Stare DecisisTo stand by thing decided; to abide by precedents where the same points come again in litigation
Status quoExisting condition
Strictissimi JurisOf the most strict law
Sub ModoUnder condition or restriction
SubpoenaA writ commanding attendance in a court under penalty
Sub JudiceIn course of a trial
Sub SilentioIn silence
Suggestio FalsiA false suggestion, misrepresentation
Sui Juris(Of his own right), a person who is neither a minor nor insane nor subject to any disability, as opposed to alieni juris.
Suppressio VeriA wilful concealment of a truth
Sus. Per. CollLet him be hanged by the neck

T | List of Important Legal Words and Phrases

Terminus A QuoThe starting point
Terminus Ad QuemThe terminal point
Terra FirmaFirm-ground
Totidem VerbisIn so many words
Toties QuotiesAs often as occasion arises
Transfer Inter VivosTransfer between living persons [S. 2(d). Government Savings Certificates Act]
Trustee do son TortOne who, of his own authority, enters into the possession or attends to the management of the property which belongs beneficially to another
Turpis CausaA base or immoral consideration, on which no action can be founded

U | List of Important Legal Words and Phrases

Uberrima Fides(Most entire confidence). Contracts made between persons in a particular relationship of confidence, as guardian and ward, attorney and client, or insured and insurer, require the fullest information to be given beforehand by the person in whom the confidence is reposed to the person confiding, or the court will refuse to enforce the contract on behalf of the former. [Rawson]
Ubi jus ibi remediumWhen there is a right, there is a remedy
Ultimtus HaeresThe ultimate or last heir
Ultra ViresBeyond their powers. It means that something has been clone by a person or body of persons which was beyond him, or their power

V | List of Important Legal Words and Phrases

Vadium MortuumA dead pledge; a mortgage
Valebat QuantumLet it have its weight
Vi Et ArmisBy force of arms
VideSee; a word of reference
ViresAuthority; power
Vis MajorIrresistible force
Viva VoceBy word of mouth

Law Library: Notes and Study Material for LLB, LLM, Judiciary and Entrance Exams

Author: Mayank Shekhar

Mayank is a student at Faculty of Law, Delhi University. Under his leadership, Legal Bites has been researching and developing resources through blogging, educational resources, competitions, and seminars.

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