Legal Latin Phrases


Latin is of the utmost importance to people who study law. In ancient times, most of Europe was ruled by the Romans. They introduced their language (Latin) and their laws. After the fall of the Roman Empire, barbaric tribes conquered the lands dominated by the Romans. These barbarians could not read or write, so they had to adopt Latin, as that was language in which the laws of the conquered people were written.  Many of the principles and statues, still in practice today, have evolved from ancient Roman law. So it is of no surprise that many terms you hear in detective and law movies and TV shows are in Latin.

  1. Alter parens - Other Parent (Legal term - Person whom something is owe )
  2. Amicus curiae - A friend of the court (Legal term - Advisor in matter of law)
  3. Animus confidenti - Intention to confess (Legal term)
  4. Animus defendendi - Intention to defend (Legal term)
  5. Animus domini - Intent to be owner (Legal term)
  6. Animus donandi - Intention to make a gift (Legal term)
  7. Animus iniuriandi - Intent to injure (Legal term normally written as cum animo iniuriandi)
  8. Animus iocandi - Intent to joke (Legal term)
  9. Animus laedendi - Intent to injure (Legal term)
  10. Animus necandi - Intent to kill (Legal term)
  11. Animus rem sibi habendi - Intent to keep the thing (Legal term)
  12. Animus revertendi - Intent to return (Legal term - Roman law applied to lost animals. They no longer belonged to their owner, if they left the property without the intent to return)
  13. Animus solvendi - Intention to pay (Legal term)
  14. Argumentum a maiori ad minus - Argument from major to minor (Legal term)
  15. Argumentum a minori ad maius - Argument from minor to minor (Legal term)
  16. Argumentum ad antiquitatem - Argument to antiquity (Legal term - Consist of saying that if something is done by tradition then it is not iligal)
  17. Argumentum ad baculum - Argument by the cane (Legal and Philosophical term - Argument by force or threat)
  18. Argumentum ad consequentiam - Argument to the consequences (Legal and Philosophical term)
  19. Argumentum ad cruneman - Argument to the purse (Legal and Philosophical term - A fallacy that says that something must be true because he who makes it is rich - Compare with argumentum ad lazarum)
  20. Argumentum ad iuditium - Argument to the justice (Legal term)
  21. Argumentum ad lazarum - Argument to poverty (Legal and Philosophical term - A fallacy that says that something must be true because he who makes it is poor - Compare with argumentum ad cruneman)
  22. Argumentum ad verecundiam - Argument to respect (Legal term - he said, she said)
  23. Audi et alteram partem - Let us hear the other side (Legal term)
  24. Aut dedere aut iudicare - Either extradite or prosecute (Legal Term - International law)
  25. Beati possidentes - Blessed are those who have (Legal Term - "Possession is nine points of the law")
  26. Bis de eadem re ne sit actio - The action cannot be brought over again (Legal term - Any attempt to obtain a judicial re-hearing of the same question)
  27. Bona fide - In good faith (Legal term - Documents that establish one's credential)
  28. Bona fides semper præsumitur nissi mala adesse probetur - Good faith is always presumed, if bad faith is not proven (Legal term)
  29. Bonae fidei possessor suos facit fructus consumptos - The possessor in good faith makes his the fruits consumed (Legal term - Possession is ninth tens of the law)
  30. Bonum commune praeminet bono singulari unius personae - The common good is more important than the particular good (Legal and Ethical term - Saint Thomas Aquinas - It is, or should be, one of the most important social principles for the state, and foundation of Administrative Law)
  31. Bonum ex íntegra causa, malum ex quocunque defectu - An action is good only if each element in it is good; It is bad if any one of those elements is bad (Legal and Ethical term - Saint Thomas Aquinas)
  32. Brevi manu - With short hand (Legal term - Without legal warrant - Ownership by possession - Compare with longa manu)
  33. Calumniare est falsa crimina intendere - Slander is a false crime charge (Legal term)
  34. Capitis deminutio - Lowering of status (Legal term - Civil death: Lose of liberty, citizenship or family ties)
  35. Casus fortuitus a mora excusat - Fortuitous events should excuse a party (Legal term)
  36. Causa causae est causa causati - The cause of the cause is the cause of the effect (Legal term)
  37. Causa criminalis non praeiudicat civile - A criminal case predicate the civil case (Legal term)
  38. Causa iudicata individua est - A judged matter is indivisible (Legal term)
  39. Causa mortis - Caused by death (Legal term)
  40. Causa petendi - Alleged cause (Legal term)
  41. Caveat emptor - Buyer beware (Legal term - Sold as is, no warranty)
  42. Cessante ratione legis, lex ipsa cessat - when the reason for a law no longer exists, the law itself ceases to exist (Legal term)
  43. Codex iuris Civilis - Code of Civil Law (Legal term)
  44. Cogitationis poenam nemo patitur - Nobody should be punished for his thoughts (Legal term)
  45. Com res iudicata aliis non prosit - Double jeopardy does not benefit others (Legal term)
  46. Condicio iuris - Legal condition (Legal term - A requirement imposed by law for the validity of a transaction)
  47. Condicio optime - Optimum condition (Legal term)
  48. Condicio sine qua non - Condition without which it could not be (Legal and Philosophical term)
  49. Confessus pro iudicato est, qui quodammodo sua sententia damnatur - The one who confesses during trial condems himself, and in a way dictates his sentence (Legal term - Julius Paulus Digest 42,1,50,1)
  50. Confessus pro iudicato habetur - The confessed is held as judged (Legal term - Ulpianus - Digest 42,1,56)
  51. Confiteri quis in iudicio non tantum sua voce, sed et litteris et quacumque modum potest - Anyone can confess in court not only verbally, but in writing or otherwise. (Legal term de Julius Paulus Sentenciae Vª,3)
  52. Consensus facit legem - Consensus makes the law (Legal term)
  53. Contra factum non valet argumentum - There is no valid argument against a fact (Legal term)
  54. Contra scriptum testimonium - Against written testimony (Legal term)
  55. Contractus - Contract (Legal term)
  56. Contractus est pacto duorum pluriunve in idem plactium consensus - Contract is the bilateral agreement that is accepted by both parties (Legal term)
  57. Contractus lex - Law of the contract (Legal term)
  58. Corpus delicti - Body of crime (Legal term - Evidence)
  59. Corpus Iuris Civilis - Body of Civil Law (Legal term)
  60. Cui bono - To whose benefit? (Legal term - Who gains by the crime?)
  61. Cui prodest? - To whose benefit? (Legal term - Who gains by the crime?)
  62. Cui prodest scelus, is fecit - Who benefits by the crime, he is the guilty man (Seneca Medea - Legal Term - Usually asked in court as Cui prodest?)
  63. Cuius est solum, eius est coelum - Whoever owns the soil, owns the sky (Legal term)
  64. Culpa in eligendo - Negligence in choice (decision) (Legal Term - Compare Culpa in vigilando)
  65. Culpa in vigilando - Negligence in vigilance (Legal Term - Compare Culpa in eligendo)
  66. Culpa lata - Gross negligence (Legal Term - compare with Culpa Levis - Defined in Digest 50, 16, 213)
  67. Culpa levis - Slight negligence (Legal Term - compare with Culpa Lata)
  68. Cum finis est licitus etiam media sunt licita - When the end is legal, the means are legal (Legal and Philosophic term written in 1650 by the Jesuit priest Hermann Busenbaum 1600-1688 - Also known as "The end justifies the means")
  69. Curator ad litem - Gardian for the lawsuit (Legal term - a person assigned by the cour to represent a minor)
  70. Da mihi factum, dabo tibi ius - Give me the facts, and I will give you justice (Legal term)
  71. Damnum non facit qui iure suo uttitur - Harms no one, he who uses his legal rights (Legal Term)
  72. Damnun absque iniuria - Damage without injury (Legal term)
  73. Datio in solutum - Giving in payment (Legal term - transfer of goods in lieu of payment)
  74. De auditu - By hearing (Legal term - e.g. testimonium de auditu)
  75. De bene esse - Of well being (Legal term - Conditionally, good enough)

Total: 381
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