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Google Dictionary Creeping Into Legal Space

Blacks The Legal Writing Blog and the Law Librarian Blog point out in these posts that the new Google Dictionary, which was quietly rolled out in December 2009, presents a formidable competitor not only for other Web dictionaries such as, but also potentially to niche lexicons like Black's Law Dictionary.

Up until December, was Google's default dictionary. Now, of course, the search giant is sending users to its own guide, and the Law Librarian blog says that it marks the beginning of a new way that Google will invade the legal world, as Google Dictionary already contains results for numerous legal terms. The Law Librarian states that:

It's not exactly going to challenge Black's for authority or definitions, but it seems to have some value. Search for res ipsa loquitur and there will be a set of results that define and link to further information. Random comparisons with Black's entries show nothing for fettering of property, and feorme, but definitions for terms such as feoffment, food safety and inspection service, and Hatch Act certainly appear.

I tried it out myself on a host of legal terms that came quickly to mind, and was able to get results for almost all of them ("motion for summary judgment"; "interpleader"; "chattel)." Many of the results did not provide a straight definition, however, instead offering links to relevant entries on other sites such as

It seems to me that although Google Dictionary is not a Black's Law Dictionary killer today, Google could undoubtedly partner with a legal definitions provider and flick a switch tomorrow if it wanted to provide a free, comprehensive and easy-to-use law dictionary. So Black's, head's up!

Posted by Bruce Carton on January 11, 2010 at 11:56 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)


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