ABA Journal

The tortuous tale behind the 10th edition of the most widely cited lawbook in the world


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Photo of Bryan Garner by Teri Glanger.

People often ask how much Black’s Law Dictionary changes from edition to edition. The answer is a great deal. When West Publishing Co. asked me to become editor, I accepted on the condition that I’d have free rein to remake the grand old book to bring it in line with established principles of lexicography. With a small team, I’ve streamlined entries, deepened the treatment of legal history, enumerated the discrete senses for each term, ordered the entries logically, clarified and updated the definitions, and supplied terminological information not otherwise readily available.

With four unabridged editions under my belt—the seventh through the 10th (to be released this month)—I’ve added new features to each one. The 10th includes 7,500 new entries; thousands of new senses for existing terms; dates of first usage in English for almost every term; more than 500 new scholarly sources; 900 Latin maxims not previously recorded; and a new layout for all subentries, making page navigation easier. Allow me to explain about the facets of the most widely cited lawbook in the world.

Click here to read the rest of “Behind Black’s” from the May issue of the ABA Journal.

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