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Glossary

Glossary of Words in Latin from Roman Law

Glossary of Roman law and other legal words in latin:

See also: Glossary F-N and Glossary O-Z in this legal reference.

Glossary A-E

  • A fortiori definition: with all the more force.
  • A Vinculo Matrimonii definition: of marriage.
  • Ab Absurdo definition: an evidentiary suggestion or statutory interpretation that is, or leads to, an absurdity.
  • Ab Initio definition: from the start; from the beginning.
  • Aberratio Ictus definition: the accidental harm to a person; e.g. perpetrator aims at X but by chance or lack of skill hits Y.
  • Accusare Nemo Se Debet Nisi Coram Deo definition: no man is obliged to accusehimself except before God.
  • Accusatio meaning: the bringing of a criminal charge, normally (until the early Empire) by a private citizen who, acting as the accuser (delator) lodged a complaint with a magistrate. If accepted, the magistrate would register the charge (inscriptio), which could not then be withdrawn without permission of the court (Roman law).
  • Acta Exteriora Indicant Interiora Secreta definition: The outward acts show the secret intentions.
  • Actio in factum meaning: an action given by the praetor on the facts of the case alone where no standard civil law action was applicable (Roman law).
  • Actio Personalis Moritur Cum Persona definition: any right of action dies with the person.
  • Actus Curiae Neminem Gravabit definition: An act of the court shall prejudice no one.
  • Actus Dei Nemini Facit Injuriam definition: An act of God causes legal injury to no one.
  • Actus Regis Nemini Est Damnosa definition: The law will not work a wrong.
  • Actus Reus definition: a prohibited act.
  • Actus Reus Non Facit Reum Nisi Mens Sit Rea definition: conviction of a crime requires proof of a criminal act and intent.
  • Ad Colligendum Bona definition: for the collection of the goods of the deceased.
  • Ad Damnum definition: to the damage.
  • Ad Hoc definition: limited in time; to this point.
  • Ad Infinitum definition: forever; without limit; indefinitely.
  • Ad Litem definition: for the suit.
  • Ad Proximum Antecedens Fiat Relatio Nisi Impediatur Sententia definition: relative words must ordinarily be referred to the last antecedent, the last antecedent being the last word which can be made an antecedent so as to give a meaning.
  • Ad Quaestionem Facti Non Respondent Judices, Ad Quaestionem Juris Non Respondent Juratores definition: The judge instructs on points of law and the jury decides matters of fact.
  • Adoptio meaning: an adoption where a dependent person (alieni iuris) is transferred to one family to another, involving the change of paterfamilias (Roman law).
  • Adrogatio meaning: an adoption where an independent person (sui iuris) is transferred from one family to another, coming under the patria potestas of the pater familiasof his adoptive family (Roman law). This could be done only to save a family from extinction (Roman law).
  • Aequum et bonum definition: what is right and just..
  • Agnates meaning: relatives through the male line, descended from a common male ancestor without any artificial break in the line of relationship (such as emancipation) (Roman law). Persons of either sex may be agnates, but the line could only be transmitted through males (Roman law). If the common male ancestor (pater familias) was alive, the agnates were all in his patria potestas (Roman law). Agnatic relations existed through adoption as fully as through blood (Roman law).
  • Agnatio definition: members of a group having a common male ancestor.
  • Alea jacta est definition: the die is cast.
  • Alia Enormia definition: The catch-all phrase in trespass pleadings to refer to all such other harms and damages that may have been caused by the alleged trespasser other than those specified.
  • Alibi definition: A defence to a criminal charge to the effect that the accused was elsewhere than at the scene of the alleged crime.
  • Alieni juris definition: under the legal authority of another.
  • Aliunde definition: otherwise.
  • Amicus Curiae definition: friend of the court.
  • Animus Contrahendi definition: an intention to contract.
  • Animus definition: intention.
  • Animus Furandi definition: an intent to do wrong.
  • Argumentum Ab Inconvenienti Plurimum Valet In Lege definition: An argument drawn from inconvenience is forcible in law.
  • Audi Alteram Partem definition:literally ‘hear the other side’.
  • Audita Querela definition: An application to a court after judgment seeking to avoid execution of that judgment because of some event intervening between judgment and execution which compromises the judgment creditor’s entitlement to execution.
  • Avunculus definition: a mother’s brother.
  • Bona Fide definition: good faith.
  • Bona Vacantia definition: Property that belongs to no person, and which may be claimed by a finder.
  • Bonae fidei iudicia meaning: “actions of good faith” granted by the praetor for certain contractual relationships in which the iudex was required to take account of what ought to be done or given in good faith by the parties (Roman law). Defenses (exceptiones) could be raised by the court even when not pled by the defendant (Roman law).
  • Boni Judicis Est Ampliare Jurisdictionem definition: good justice is broad jurisdiction.
  • Bonitary ownership – possession protected by the praetor even though the formalities of transfer have not been followed (Roman law).
  • Bonus pater familias definition: the good family man.
  • Casus Foederis definition: treaty event.
  • Causa Causans definition: The real, effective cause of damage.
  • Causa Proxima Et Non Remota Spectatur definition: the immediate, not the remote cause, is to be considered.
  • Causa Sine Qua Non definition: An intervening cause of loss which, though not direct, may nonetheless contribute to the loss.
  • Caveat definition: let him beware. A formal warning.
  • Caveat Emptor definition: buyer beware.
  • Certiorari definition: A formal request to a court challenging a legal decision of an administrative tribunal, judicial office or organization (eg. government) alleging that the decision has been irregular or incomplete or if there has been an error of law.
  • Cessante Ratione Legis, Cessat Ipsa Lex definition: The reason for a law ceasing, the law itself ceases.
  • Cestui Que Trust or Cestui Que Use efinition: the beneficiary of a trust.
  • Ceteris Paribus definition: all things being equal or unchanged.
  • Cognates meaning: all relatives, whether traced through the male or female lines (Roman law).
  • Cognitio extra ordinem meaning: a proceeding before an imperial magistrate rather than before the praetor and iudex. It replaced the classical formulary system in the 3rd century A.D (Roman law).
  • Comitatus definition: a contract of personal services between a land lord and his men.
  • Commodum Ex Injuria Sua Nemo Habere Debet definition: a wrongdoer should not be enabled by law to take any advantage from his actions.
  • Commorientes definition: Two or more persons dying at about the same time, usually in the same event, but in circumstances in which it is impossible to determine the order of death.
  • Communis Error Facit Jus definition: Common error makes right.
  • Condictio meaning: a type of action alleging a debt without specifying the precise basis of the claim (Roman law). It was available in both contractual and quasi-contractual claims (Roman law).
  • Consensus Ad Idem definition: a meeting of the minds.
  • Consensus definition: A decision achieved through negotiation whereby a hybrid resolution is arrived on an issue, dispute or disagreement, comprising typically of concessions made by all parties, and to which all parties then subscribe unanimously as an acceptable resolution.
  • Consensus Tollit Errorem definition: Consent obviates errors in the course of judicial proceedings.
  • Consortium definition: Companionship, love and affection and intimacy between husband and wife within a mariage.
  • Constitutio meaning: general term for imperial legislation of all types (Roman law).
  • Consuetudo Volentes Ducit, Lex Nolentes Trahit definition: Customs leads the willing, law drags the unwilling.
  • Contemporanea Expositio definition: That the meaning of words in a document are to be understood in the sense which they bore at the time of the document.
  • Conubium meaning: the right to contract a civil law marriage, possessed generally only by Roman citizens (Roman law).
  • Corpus Delicti definition: the body of the offense.
  • Crimen Omnia Ex Se Nata Vitiat definition: property obtained by crime is tainted (vitiated).
  • Cuicunque Aliquis Quid Concedit Concedere Videtur Et Id Sine Quo Res Ipsa Esse Non Poluit definition: Whoever grants a thing is supposed also tacitly to grant that without which the grant itself would be of no effect.
  • Cuius Est Solum Ejus Est Usque Ad Caelum definition: whose is the soil, his it is even to the skies and to the depths below.
  • Cuius Est Solum Ejus Est Usque Ad Coelum Et Ad Inferos definition: for whoever owns the soil, it is theirs up to heaven and down to hell.
  • Cujus Est Commodum Ejus Debet Esse Incommodum definition: Whose is the advantage, his also should be the disadvantage.
  • Culpa Lata definition: gross negligence.
  • Curator meaning: guardian for young persons over the age of puberty and under 25; and for the insane and the spendthrift (Roman law).
  • Cursus Curiae Est Lex Curiae definition: The practice of the court is the law of the court.
  • Cursus honorum meaning: the chain of offices in the political career at Rome: quaestor, aedile, tribune, praetor, consul, censor (Roman law).
  • Custodia Legis definition: In the custody of the law; the taking, seizing or holding of something by lawful authority.
  • Damnum Absque Injuria definition: harm absent a wrong.
  • Damnum Injuria Datum definition: wrongful injury to the property of another.
  • De Bene Esse definition: To take something for what it is worth, such as evidence collected for the time being, in the absence of, but in anticipation of, litigation, admissibility to be determined when such thing is sought to be used against another at trial.
  • De Bonis Non definition: assets not yet administered.
  • De Facto definition: in fact.
  • De Fide et Officio Judicis non Recipitur Quaestio, sed de Scientia Sive sit Eror Juris sive Facti definition: The bona fides and honesty of purpose of a judge cannot be questioned, but his decision may be impugned for error of law or of fact.
  • De injuria sua propria absque tali causa definition: of his own wrong (or injury) without any other cause.
  • De Jure definition: of the law.
  • De Minimis Non Curat Lex definition: a common law principle whereby judges will not sit in judgment of extremely minor transgressions of the law.
  • De Non Apparentibus Et De Non Existentibus Eadem Est Ratio definition: What is not juridically presented cannot be judicially decided.
  • De Non Sane Memorie definition: of insane memory.
  • De Novo definition: new.
  • Decree Nisi definition: A provisional decision of a court which does not have force or effect until a certain condition is met such as another petition brought before the court or after the passage of a period time.
  • Dedimus Potestatem de Attornato Faciendo
  • definition: to substitute an attorney.
  • Delegatus Non Potest Delegare definition: a delegate cannot delegate.
  • Delict definition: A civil law term which imposes liability on a person who causes injury to another, or for injury caused by a person or thing under his custody.
  • Deportatio meaning: perpetual banishment, the most severe form of exile involving confinement at a fixed location, confiscation of property, and loss of citizenship (Roman law).
  • Dicta or Dictum definition: saying.
  • Dies Dominicus Non Est Juridicus definition: Sunday is not a day for judicial or legal proceedings.
  • Divorce a Mensa et Thoro definition: An obselete form of divorce order which did not end the marriage but allowed the parties to reside separate; in effect, a legal or judicially-sanctioned separation of two married persons.
  • Dolus Eventualis definition: Awareness of the likely outcome of an action.
  • Dolus meaning: trickery, fraud (Roman law).
  • Dominion Utile definition: the property rights of a tenant; exclusive right to use a thing
  • Dominium Directum definition: qualified ownership of a land: not having possession or use of property but retaining ownership.
  • Domitae Naturae definition: Animals which are of a nature easily tamed and may be readily domesticated.
  • Domus Sua Cuique Est Tutissimum Refugium definition: Every man’s house is his refuge.
  • Donatio Mortis Causa definition: A death-bed gift, made by a dying person, with the intent that the person receiving the gift shall keep the thing if death ensues.
  • Duces Tecum definition: bring with you.
  • Dum Casta definition: for so long as she remains chaste.
  • Dum Sola definition: for so long as she remains unmarried.
  • Dum Sola et Casta Vixerit definition: for so long as she remains single (unmarried) and chaste.
  • Dum Vidua definition: for so long as she remains a widow.
  • Edictum meaning: a proclamation of a magistrate. The praetor’s Edict in particular contained the various formulae for causes of action he intended to recognize during his tenure of office. The Edict became standardized and was given final form in the Edictum Perpetuum issued by Iulianus under the emperor Hadrian. It formed the basis of the ius honorarium (Roman law).
  • Ejusdem or Eiusdem Generis definition: Of the same kind or nature.
  • Emancipatio meaning: voluntary release from the patria potestas, breaking the agnatic relationship and conferring independence (sui iuris) on the person involved (Roman law).
  • Emptio or Emtio definition: ‘purchase’ or referring to the contract in which something is bought.
  • Error In Objecto definition: A mistake by a perpetrator as to the identity of the victim; an error as to the object of his act.
  • Erunt animae duae in carne una definition: two souls in one flesh.
  • Et Impotentia Excusat Legem definition: The law excuses someone from doing the impossible.
  • Et. al. definition: and others.
  • Ex Aequo Et Bono definition: in justice and fairness.
  • Ex Debito Justitiae definition: as of right.
  • Ex Juris definition: outside of the jurisdiction.
  • Ex officio definition: by virtue of office.
  • Ex Parte definition: outside the awareness of a party; for one party only.
  • Ex Patriate definition: A person who has abandoned his or her country of origin and citizenship and has become a subject or citizen of another country.
  • Ex Post Facto definition: after the fact.
  • Ex Rel definition: on the relation of, or the information of.
  • Ex Turpi Causa Non Oritur Actio definition: Of an illegal cause there can be no lawsuit.
  • Exceptio meaning: a clause of defense allowed by the praetor in a defendant’s response under the Formulary system (Roman law).
  • Exceptio Non Adimpleti Contractus definition: exception of a non-performed contract.
  • Executio Juris Non Habet Injuriam definition: The execution of the law does no injury.
  • Exordium definition: introduction.
  • Expressio Unius Est Exclusio Alterius definition: the expression of one thing is the exclusion of the other.

Resources

Further Reading

Glare, P.G.W., Oxford Latin Dictionary (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1976), Volume 2, page 2069.
Levine, Edwin and others, Latin Dictionary (Follett Publishing Company, 1967), page 405.
Lewis, C. and Short, C., Harper’s Latin Dictionary (New York: American Book Company, 1879), page 1994-1995.