The law, scenarios involving its enactment, and the legal environment are full of words people don’t use in everyday situations. Read our list of legal words.
In this article, we’ve collected an exhaustive list of legal words you may encounter and what they mean. We’ve also included example sentences containing these words to help you better understand how to use them.
What Are Legal Words?
Legal words are jargon or terms with specific meanings for legal contexts. Writers use legal words to specify something (a process, status, decision, etc.) in their writing. Below is a list of the words we’ve collected, their meaning, and how to use them.
|Ab initio||Custody||Moving party|
|Action||De facto||Ne exeat|
|Ad idem||Detention order||Petition|
|Affidavit||Et seq||Pretrial hearing|
|Amicus curiae||Evidence||Pro bono|
|Automatic orders||Financial affidavit||Quash|
|Burden of proof||Grand jury||Restraining order|
|Case law||Income withholding order||Subpoena|
|Cause of action||Juvenile delinquent||Summons|
|Caveat emptor||Law librarian||Title|
|Child support||Legal separation||Transcript|
|Criminal case||Minor||Youthful offender|
Latin Legal Words
These words are Latin phrases adopted into modern law and used as standard terms. When you write a legal paper, you don’t need to explain what they mean. Don’t forget to research what these Latin legal words mean before you use them in your writing. You might also be interested in our legal writing jobs guide.
- Ad hoc
The ad hoc committee could only make decisions about this once-in-a-lifetime issue.
- Caveat emptor
Caveat emptor applies in the house-buying industry, especially since it’s difficult to back out of a house sale.
- Ad infinitum
After the trial, he became excommunicated from their town ad infinitum.
- Et seq
We entered all her diaries from 2011 et seq. as evidence yesterday, so I don’t know why it’s not listed.
- Actus reus
Tamika Flynn’s lawyers introduced an actus reus element when they implied your actions were not for self-defense.
- Ab initio
Use the term “ab initio” instead of “from the beginning,” which uses up twice as many characters as the former.
- Ex parte
Because it was an ex-parte motion, he received a temporary restraining order from his ex-wife.
- Pro bono
How do you expect me to succeed as an attorney if all the cases you give me are pro bono?
- Ad idem
They succeeded in finding the halfway point and created a contract ad idem to all their sentiments.
- Bona fide
The excellent news is that your grandmother was wise enough to check if he was a bona fide buyer before she gave him her details.
The psychiatrist expert efficiently explained to the court how a quasi-test would never be enough to give a diagnosis.
The retrial of the teenage serial killers was held in-camera after deliberating how damaging it would be to society.
- Amicus curiae
I could freely watch the legal proceedings of the Heard-Depp case since I was an amicus curia.
- Mens rea
They can’t call it a murder without knowing what his mens rea is.
- De facto
Anybody can easily take your thirty-year relationship as a de facto marriage.
- Ne exeat
Reyes received a ne exeat, so he needs to stay in town until the case gets resolved.
Check out our list of interjection words.
Pre-Trial Legal Words
While these pre-trial legal words appear throughout legal proceedings; they often come up before a trial. Like lawyers, writers can use them in their writings to give their readers an idea about how a court case will go. You might also be wondering, does LSAT writing matter?
Do you prefer showing up for your arraignment or risk looking bad to your family?
During discovery, we learned she constantly beat and berate him and their kids.
- Grand jury
She wants to be a part of the grand jury for the Pimento fraud case because she believed she could be objective now.
- Pretrial conference
Jones and his team seemed confident in their evidence and witnesses at the pretrial conference.
- Pretrial hearing
The crazy woman who got caught last week didn’t get a trial because she pled guilty in yesterday’s pretrial hearing.
Someone will listen to your testimony to decide whether you need to give a deposition.
- Cause of action
The plaintiff’s cause of action included attempted arson, attempted manslaughter, and theft.
Despite his expertise, we asked for the recusal of the veteran accountant and lawyer Chester D’Angelo.
Consider using malfeasance instead of unlawful activity if you want to use fancy legal words in your statement
Your Honor, my client didn’t even know she had a subpoena because it was never delivered to her house.
The policewoman showed my father a paper and called it a summons, and then they went away in her police car.
You’ll be hearing more from Harold soon about Manny’s extradition to Mexico.
Trial-Related Legal Words
Here are more words people often use or associate with a court hearing or trial. Writers can use this jargon to sound more reliable and knowledgeable in legal proceedings.
In legal terms, an action refers to a claim you can make using the law.
- Civil case
Disputes on child abuse and spousal or partner abuse fall under the civil case category.
- Criminal case
You’re not seriously thinking of naming your book Criminal Case, aren’t you?
- Case law
Many lawyers will bring up relevant case laws to bolster their arguments in a court hearing.
Lying is never a good idea, especially during a court hearing. You’d be committing perjury if you lied.
Our client never mentioned the watershed or your land in his affidavit.
- Burden of proof
Thanks to the burden of proof, she will remain innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
She had excellent lawyers who made a motion to quash to give her more time to talk to her key witness.
- Plea bargain
Kim Wexler is one of the best attorneys to have on your side if you want a reasonable plea bargain.
How many first-class lawyers with felony records have you met?
The judge’s adjudication gave many viewers hope and inspiration to fight against human trafficking.
The adjournment occurred after eight hours of a lengthy and tedious hearing.
The cops used his testimony and actions in his interrogation video as evidence of his guilt.
Document-Related Legal Words
The legal process relies on detailed and proper documentation. Because of its pivotal role, we have many words for various document-related ideas, actions, or items. Writers should know when to use the correct legal words when writing a legal paper.
Whether you agree to a contract or land title, always notarize your legal papers.
She had to write eight drafts before she settled for her final brief.
I noticed the atmosphere change when they received Marquez’s complaint.
This morning, two court officers from opposite sides of the country received a petition regarding the McLaughlin case.
You can’t say you own the property if you don’t have a title to prove it.
My future lawyers can get the transcript from the court.
I gave the young, aspiring lawyers an interactive exercise to better understand writs.
- Case file
They found particular papers left unused as evidence in the case file.
I added your case to Judge Mahoney’s docket for Thursday, so you owe me.
- Financial affidavit
The lawyers told Indigo they needed a financial affidavit to prove her innocence.
My mother told me the foreclosure order arrived in the mail this morning.
Court Order Legal Words
These legal words are associated with a court order or decision. Use them in your writing to tell the reader how a case ended.
She regretted not taking the chance to renew the case after it ended with a dismissal.
- Income withholding order
Liandra asked the judge not to include an income withholding order.
Today, fewer Catholic couples get annulments because they’re costly.
- Automatic orders
Yani didn’t know that some automatic orders took place after the custody case began.
- Legal separation
After spending ten months in court, the judge finally gave them a legal separation.
He wanted to take custody of his child with her after he found out that she abused their little girl whenever she had no more money left.
- Restraining order
Nicki filed a restraining order against her ex-boyfriend after he attempted to enter her domicile without her permission.
- Child support
The reason why Tomas had been so diligent at work was that he had to withhold child support payments for his two daughters.
I’m glad that the seal exists to protect youths like me, who probably would’ve had no chance at a future like this.
She was given the time to say her goodbyes before her arrest.
- Protective order
Unfortunately, the protective order hadn’t been enough to keep the unhinged husband from his wife.
- Detention order
Did you know that Teresa received a detention order when she was only 16?
Person Legal Words
These legal words allude to persons or roles in a legal setting or court. Writers use them to differentiate specific parties.
- Law Librarian
The best thing about being a law librarian is my free access to fast Wi-Fi.
- Juvenile delinquent
He lied to Leona about not being a juvenile delinquent.
- Youthful offender
Because of Nilah’s status as a youthful offender, her records were kept private.
The foreman delivered Rosaline’s verdict effortlessly.
She received leniency because she was a minor.
- Moving party
The moving party requested a private hearing.
- Public defender
Patrick became a public defender after years of practice.
It was Jack’s dream to become a prosecutor one day.
Denise entered the courtroom as a key witness.
Did you know that the older word for a plaintiff is the claimant?
Saul Goodman has tried being in the positions of defendant, plaintiff, and lawyer.
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