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Black's Law Dictionary — United States

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Tyler.Durden
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Postby Tyler.Durden » Monday October 24th, 2005 10:20 am MDT

Citizen Publius,

Welcome to "1984", apparently since the 4th edition of Black's law key terms have begun to be left out each edition. This was minimal during the 5th and 6th editions but starting with the 7th and continuing with the 8th, pertinent terms look as if they are being left out.

The term "United States" was removed from Black's Law between the 6th and 7th editions.

The term "United States" as defined in Black's 6th still stands, it just wasn't "included". I forgot the maxim of law that creates this precedent as the Admin has stated in the past, but just because it is left out doesn't change the meaning of the word/term.

I'm currently trying to obtain all of the black's dictionaries from the 3rd through 6th edition as we speak to actually cataloge the "key removed terms" and to assist in any legal research.

If you really want to bake your noodle look up "internal revenue service" and "Internal Revenue Service" within Bouvier's 8th edition I believe.... [shock]

Regards...
May God grant us the wisdom to discover right, the will to choose it, and the strength to make it endure.

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Re: United States

Postby Admin » Monday October 24th, 2005 11:09 am MDT

:h: Citizen Publius,

You are asking the wrong parties about this question. If you want to know the answer to this question you will have to contact West Publishing Co. or their Editor in Chief for the Dictionary. We were not aware that the 8th Edition was out already. When they put their 7th Edition out, they indicated that they planned to revise it in ten years. That edition was dated 1999 and followed the 1990’s 6th Edition.

Though we appreciate all of the innuendo some people like to make about such the changes in such dictionaries, the simple fact is that often such definitions are left out because it is either assumed that people know what they mean with their individual use of the term, or the term’s use is far broader than is reasonable to attempt to definitively define it otherwise.

Black’s Law Dictionary, 7th Edition did not include the term. We heard rumors about that edition as if it was proof of the New World Order taking over. Our review of the new version is that it was far better for most purposes. The Bottom Line: it is just a dictionary, and in the arena of Lexicons with a focus on Law, it does a better job than most. Its purpose is not to be an all inclusive dictionary. It purpose could be more generally described as an aid in understanding the current usage of certain terms as used in the practice of Law. This means, just because a use or meaning of a word is in any particular lexicon, do not assume such usage is the definitive be all and end all of the term or its usage.

The Black’s Sixth edition had a definition for the United States; that definition reads:
Black’s Law Dictionary, 6th Edition wrote:United States. This term has several meanings. It may be merely the name of a sovereign occupying the position analogous to that of other sovereigns in family of nations, it may designate territory over which sovereignty of United States extends, or it may be collective name of the states which are united by and under the Constitution. Hooven & Allison Co. v. Evatt, U.S.Ohio, 324 U.S. 652, 65 S.Ct. 870, 880, 89 L.Ed. 1252
You may notice this definition is by no means definitive. There are many other uses of the term. Looking up the same term on 24 Oct. 2005, in the Webster's Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged by Merriam-Webster, we find:
Webster wrote:Main Entry 1: united states
Function: noun plural but usually singular in construction
Etymology: from the United States of America
1 usually capitalized : a federation of states especially when forming a nation in a usually specified territory <advocating a United States of Europe>
2 : United States English : written or spoken English exhibiting peculiarities typical of the United States of No. America[hr][/hr]Main Entry 2: united states
Function: adjective Usage: usually capitalized U&S
Etymology: from the United States of America
: of or from the United States of No. America <a United States ship> : of the kind or style prevalent in the United States
We find this the adjective definition repeated in Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary and also find a definition of the United States of America, described as a country bordered by oceans, Canada and Mexico.

Again, we would read nothing into the fact that the definition is not in recent versions of Black’s Law Dictionary. Just like in court. You can prove nothing by what is not there.

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Postby Tyler.Durden » Monday October 24th, 2005 12:23 pm MDT

Admin,

Very good points indeed, I will see if my own study backs up your points made about the 7th editions usefulness.

For the purposes of future research, how can one even potentially define that "The United States" is specifically the "Ten Square Mile area and territories". I believe one could "construe" this from the second definition of The United States you quoted in black's law 6th edition, thereby leading to further research and proving the word's separation from the Union of 50 States", however, what other definitive source of official legal terminology could one turn to to at least pique one's curosity of the possible "various" interpretations of "The United States", other than the USC or CFR. The preamble of the Constitution for the United States of America alone raises my curosity, yet where could one go to possibly clarify this difference in terminology, or at least stir ones questioning mind, if all the possible definitions is no longer listed within Black's Law Dictionary.

One could go to The United States Code and start looking at the statutory definitions for "The United States" and quickly discover over a hundred different meanings for term "The United States", but then again I may have answered my own question as the Code defines so many uses it could have been determined that it was simply not prudent to include "every" possible meaning of "The Unitd States".

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Postby Admin » Wednesday October 26th, 2005 12:08 am MDT

:h: Tyler.Durden and Citizen Publius:

Guys — come on you’re blowing it on this one. There is nothing sinister about it. If you read sinister in such things, you are likely to throw yourselves off track in understanding anything historical or artful. There is nothing sinister about it.

Again, we have to warn you both that Black’s Law Dictionary is anything but a “definitive source” for definitions of words. The dictionary does not even begin to attempt to be such a device. What they attempt to do is give a relative definition of the terms listed as used in the practice of law today. It is a merely lexicon of usage. Alleging it is sinister is like shooting the messenger because you don’t like the message. The book is neither the creator of the definitions nor can it be used to demonstrate a conspiracy. It is just a lexicon. We saw Judge Black’s granddaughter (his descendant heir) on TV once, she talked about how fascinating it is that the alleged dictionary has caught on so well. She remarked on the fact that the old judge had quite a sense of humor and in his years on the bench he had heard so many humorous usages of words that he compiled them into a joke book he called Black’s Law Dictionary. That’s right, to judge Black, the original author, the book was a joke. He thought lawyers might like it and get a kick out of it. To his surprise, attorneys and judges took the book seriously, so by the second edition they decided to straighten up the act a bit and go for the common usage in the practice of Law. Now it is recognized by some as an authority and she appreciates the royalties they send to her for the old man’s joke. It was here opinion that everyone takes it too seriously to this day. Again the book contains modern usage of terms used in the practice of Law. My favorite part of the 7th Edition is its inclusion of authoritative quotes from standard sources of secondary legal opinions. A secondary legal opinion is an opinion from an expert source that is not the courts or the legislature. You guys are simply taking this matter way beyond reasonableness.

Looking to the code for definitions only defines usage for the location of the definition. Such definitions cannot be used for any other relation.

You must remember law recognizes language as a thing of art. Art is a world where usage of the artist defines the terms. Evidence of the artists usage is used to determine the meaning of terms or art and from evidence cases are decided.

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Postby Tyler.Durden » Wednesday October 26th, 2005 9:02 am MDT

I see your point entirely. I assumed it was the authority on legal definitions nor did I know the history of Black's law.

So as I understand it from your post, Black's should be seen as nothing more than a starting point in the process of fully understanding a term or word, and nothing more, as its usage in modern lexicon "defines" the word or term.

I do appreciate the history of Black's as well.
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Postby Admin » Wednesday October 26th, 2005 10:54 am MDT

:h: Tyler.Durden:
The point we made about Black’s Law Dictionary is not unique to Black’s, it is the nature of all dictionaries. The definition of word usage in all lexicons is always a matter of common usage as opposed to a defining authority. Usage is defined by the user (author), not the dictionary. This is a matter often misunderstood by people using dictionaries. If you go to the Webster's Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged by Merriam-Webster, and do a little research on how dictionaries are composed you will find new words are constantly added to the dictionary and the meaning of words over time changes. This is because people use words differently for different reasons, and through their usage, words are defined — then, when that usage becomes a common practice noticed by lexicographers, that usage gets published in the dictionary. The dictionary is the cart that follows well behind the horse of common usage.

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Re: Black's Law Dictionary — United States

Postby Rena » Saturday November 20th, 2010 5:14 pm MST

There is a Black's Law Dictionary 9th edition out now. Is this the dictionary now recommended to newbies like myself wanting to learn the law?
God bless, Rena.

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Re: Black's Law Dictionary — United States

Postby Admin » Friday December 24th, 2010 5:22 pm MST

:h: Rena:
It depends on what you want to learn. If you want to understand the meaning of words and phrases used in the Constitution of the United States of America then you will want to study from books that were authorities on such matters from that time period. However, if you are looking for information regarding something that was penned in our time two sources that would be good to compare might be: Merriam-Webster Unabridged and the latest dictionary from the Black’s Law Dictionary series. Of course you could also do a search on the definition of the word by using either Google or Google Scholar. In Google just type in the word in the Google search window followed by the word “definition” and it will bring up many internet sources for the usage of that word. This link to an instruction page for using Google Scholar might help you get started using it. It is a very good new free source for searching Supreme Court and other case law sources.

Of course, you will want to remember the The Cardinal Rule of Definitions when you use dictionary styled resources.

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