Garner's Dictionary of Legal Usage, 3rd edition, 2011

(Oxford University Press, 3d edition, 2011)

Purchase from Amazon
Purchase from Barnes & Noble

This is the seminal Bryan A. Garner text — his first published reference work. The book concentrates on the myriad usage questions unique to legal writing: What’s the difference between a living will and an advanced directive? Jury-packing and jury-tampering? National and federal? Collateral estoppel and res judicata? Also included are such entertaining entries as “Lawyers, Derogatory Names for” and “Doublets, Triplets, and Synonym-Strings.”

The first edition of A Dictionary of Modern Legal Usage became a classic in its field. The first comprehensive guide to legal style and usage, it filled a gap in reference literature by giving practical advice on how to write clear, jargon-free legal prose. Lawyers, judges, and law students have come to rely on Garner’s Dictionary of Legal Usage, as have many who confront the language of the law in related fields, including journalism, business, and finance. Described in the Harvard Law Review as “a work worthy of comparison to H.W. Fowler’s Dictionary of English Usage,” GDLU had become an indispensable reference.

In this edition, Garner thoroughly updated his award-winning work. More than double the length and coverage of the original, this expanded GDLU offers definitive advice on legal style and usage. Garner drew on his unrivaled experience as a legal editor to refine his positions on legal usage and to add a wealth of new material.

As much a style guide as a law dictionary, GDLU provides concrete answers and practical solutions to linguistic questions and stylistic dilemmas that commonly confront the legal writer. Easy-to-follow guidelines and illustrations steer readers away from grammatical blunders and linguistic pitfalls. The text contains thousands of quotations from judges and prominent legal minds, along with engaging essays that explore the many issues that modern legal writers routinely face.


What others are saying about Garner’s Dictionary of Legal Usage:

“Keep a copy of this book where you write briefs. You will use A Dictionary of Modern Legal Usage, Second Edition, again and again with confidence and delight. This is one of the best books ever written for lawyers.” — ABA Appellate Practice Journal


“This dictionary is not only useful, it is actually fun to browse in. Its entries are admirably clear and direct, and often clever. If used regularly by enough lawyers, it could put an end to legalese.” — The Federal Lawyer


“The first edition of this book has been praised around the world as both the most reliable guide to legal usage and the most fascinating to read. The second edition outdoes even its predecessor, with more depth, more illustrative quotations, and more proof of Garner’s lively literary style. He has surely established himself as the world’s leading authority on the language of law.” — Charles Alan Wright, The University of Texas


“In a work worthy of comparison to Fowler’s Dictionary of Modern English Usage, Mr. Garner, a Texas practitioner, sets forth an authoritative guide to American legal usage and style. All legal writers will find it an invaluable help; many law-review editors will find it a source of delight. Don’t confront your editor without it.” — Harvard Law Review

“For solos who can afford only one legal dictionary, or one legal-writing stylebook, this should be it.” — Legal Economics