Wednesday, July 3, 2024

Black's Law Dictionary 12th Edition Now Online

A new 12th edition of Black's Law Dictionary was published in June. Once the library's hard copies arrive and are processed, you will find a print copy at the Reserve Desk and on the dictionary stand in the library Reading Room. Online, the Black's Law Dictionary database on Westlaw has already incorporated the 12th edition changes. (To access it on Westlaw Precision, type BLACKS into the main search bar and select the source from the drop-down suggestions, or retrieve it from the Secondary Sources content menu.)

What's new in the 2024 edition? As with the 2019 update, the publisher promises a revision to every single page. More than 2,500 new terms (such as ghost gun and shadow docket) have been added, bringing the total number of definitions higher than 70,000. Last month, longtime editor Bryan A. Garner joined David Lat's Original Jurisdiction podcast to discuss the new edition and his editorial process for revising the much-cited source.

Of course, while Black’s Law Dictionary includes terms with long histories, sometimes legal researchers need to look up the text of dictionary definitions from earlier eras. All historical editions of Black's Law Dictionary are also available in print in the Law Library on Reserve, but electronic access is also available for most editions. Westlaw provides access to the text of historical editions back to the 4th revised (1968), on the right-hand sidebar of the Black’s Law Dictionary search screen (or by searching for the source title Black's Law Dictionary - Historical). The first (1891) and second (1910) editions are also separately available online with a Duke University NetID and password.

For an alternative historical dictionary source from the 1960s, Ballentine’s Law Dictionary, 3d ed. (1969) is available electronically to the University community via Nexis Uni or to the Law School in Lexis+.

For help with locating Black's Law Dictionary or with finding legal definitions in other sources, be sure to Ask a Librarian.