Does OED eliminate the need for Black's law dictionary?
Thread poster: xxxdeleted.

Local time: 23:39
English to Chinese
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Jan 15, 2013

Oxford English Dictionary is supposed to be the most comprehensive dictionary, I wonder if that means with an OED installed in your computer, there is no need to get any other special dictionaries such as Black's Law Dictionary, and medical dictionary and any other dictionaries?

And how does the OED beat Google?


B D Finch  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:39
Member (2006)
French to English
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No! Jan 15, 2013

I suggest you visit a good library or bookshop and browse the general and specialist dictionaries to get an idea of the differences of range and type of entries. A specialist dictionary covers a lot more than just linguistic usage.

Surely you cannot imagine that Google is a dictionary? Perhaps you mean that it gives access to various online dictionaries? If so, then you should be aware that these are mainly the result of a collective contribution by people with widely varying levels of expertise (ranging from total ignorance to considerable expertise). The results should not be treated as reliable. Google is as good as the critical faculties of the user, who needs to be able to sort out the good stuff from the dross. A major dictionary from a reputable publishing house is the result of years of work by a team of experts and is proofread, corrected and edited before publication.


Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:39
Member (2003)
Danish to English
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Black's Law Dictionary is A Jan 15, 2013

In fact I would not go for the OED at all.
I use the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictoinary for at-a-touch reference - it's free on line. When not on line, I have alternated over the years between the Shorter Oxford Dictionary and the Concise Oxford, both of which are available as CDs that you can install on your own PC or laptop. The Concise is quite a lot cheaper, and perfectly adequate for most puposes.

You need to be aware that Black's covers especially American law, and the terminology is not the same as for English law.
The OED is based in the UK.

If you are not seriously specialising in English law, I would suggest something like the latest edition of Osborn's or the Dictionary of Law in the Oxford Reference series, and buy a new updated copy at regular intervals - these are very reasonably priced and you can afford to do that.

The point of specialist dictionaries is that they tell you more about how the word is used in context, and less or nothing about the history of the word. That may be interesting, but it may actually be distracting when you are translating a text.

How the word came from its Norse, Icelandic, Latin, Greek or Old High German roots - or wherever else it came from, and how its meaning developed, where it is used in Shakespeare and other English classics etc. etc. may be fascinating, but is not always relevant to modern-day usage.

There are lots of obsolete and very rarely used words in the OED, which take up space that is used differently in other dictionaries.

As you are based in Australia, you should perhaps find out what is available in Australia. Law is not just Law - it is sometimes different in England and Scotland, for instance, and not necesarily the same in Australia as either.

The OED is a lovely work. My mother had it all along the bottom shelf in the living room, and we actually used to look things up occasionally as children. But it is quite costly, and I spend my money these days on specialist dictionaries compiled by reputable lexicographers.

Google, as B.D Finch says, is not a dictionary. It is a lottery. You can win the big prize, when it turns up sites that are maintained conscientiously and kept up to date, but these do not always come up on Google, if they are not publicly subsidised. You may have to subscribe to them.

Anyone can post anything on the Internet, and Google will find the ones that know how to use the right strategy. But they may or may not be reliable.


Local time: 23:39
English to Chinese
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Dictionary selection Jan 16, 2013

Thank you, B D Finch and Christine Andersen.

From time to time I would come across a word which is used in a way that the usual definitions offered in my dictionary (I use, among others, Oxford Dictionary of English and Oxford Advanced Learniner's Dictionary) does not explain its meaning in that particular situation.

A recent example is the word "authority" used in a judge's sentencing notes and it is used in this context:

"Today we have had a sentencing hearing and both the Informant and Counsel for the accused have given me written submissions with case authorities."

A search in google brought me to where I find a definition which is relevant to this situation: 10.(law) a judicial decision, statute, or rule of law that establishes a principle; precedent.

But sometimes for some words, it is more difficult to find the definitions that are relevant.

I'm looking for ways to solve this problem, and am wondering if I should arm myself with a heavier dictionary, hence this post seeking advice.

So now I will dismiss OED and Black's Law Dictionary from my shopping list.

I did a quick research in Wikipedia and, and it seems to me that the Oxford Dictionary of English (second edition) I'm carrying in my CASIO pocket electronic dictionary is heavier than the Concise Oxfor English, so I guess if I need anything, I should look upward at Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, maybe supplemented by something like A Dictionary of Law (Oxford) or Australian Law Dictionary.

No, I do not specialise in law, but I would like to be able to handle it when such assignments come my way from time to time.


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