Build your vocabulary with Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day! Each day a Merriam-Webster editor offers insight into a fascinating new word -- explaining its meaning, current use, and little-known details about its origin.
October 17th, 2015
Episode 352 of 923 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 17, 2015 is: jurisprudence \joor-us-PROO-dunss\ noun 1 : the science or philosophy of law 2 a : a system or body of law b : the course of court decisions 3 : a department of law Examples: A basic premise of American jurisprudence is that a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. "'The right to a lawyer is a pillar of American jurisprudence, but it's a right we've only had since 1963,' John Oliver explained on Sunday's Last Week Tonight." Peter Weber, The Week (theweek.com), 14 Sept. 2015 Did you know? "For a farewell to our jurisprudent, I wish unto him the gladsome light of jurisprudence." With this valedictory to English jurist Sir Thomas Littleton, another jurist, Sir Edward Coke, welcomed two new words into English. In 1628, his jurisprudence meant "knowledge of or skill in law," a now archaic sense that reflects the meaning of the word's root. Jurisprudence goes back to Latin prudentia juris (literally "skill in law"), from which was derived the Late Latin formation jurisprudentia, and subsequently our word. The noun jurisprudent means "one skilled in law"in other words, a jurist. There's also jurisprude, a somewhat rare 20th-century back-formation created from jurisprudence with influence from prude. It means "one who makes ostentatious show of jurisprudential learning."