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noun ju·ris·dic·tion \ˌjr-əs-ˈdik-shən\

: the power or right to make judgments about the law, to arrest and punish criminals, etc.

: the power or right to govern an area

: an area within which a particular system of laws is used

Full Definition of JURISDICTION

:  the power, right, or authority to interpret and apply the law
a :  the authority of a sovereign power to govern or legislate
b :  the power or right to exercise authority :  control
:  the limits or territory within which authority may be exercised
ju·ris·dic·tion·al \-shnəl, -shə-nəl\ adjective
ju·ris·dic·tion·al·ly adverb


  1. The court has jurisdiction over most criminal offenses.
  2. His attorney claimed the court lacked jurisdiction in this matter.
  3. The matter falls outside the jurisdiction of this court.
  4. territory under the jurisdiction of the federal government
  5. He was arrested in another jurisdiction.


Middle English jurisdiccioun, from Anglo-French & Latin; Anglo-French jurisdiction, from Latin jurisdiction-, jurisdictio, from juris + diction-, dictio act of saying — more at diction
First Known Use: 14th century

Synonym Discussion of JURISDICTION

power, authority, jurisdiction, control, command, sway, dominion mean the right to govern or rule or determine. power implies possession of ability to wield force, authority, or influence <the power to mold public opinion>. authority implies power for a specific purpose within specified limits <granted the authority to manage her estate>. jurisdiction applies to official power exercised within prescribed limits <the bureau having jurisdiction over parks>. control stresses the power to direct and restrain <you are responsible for the students under your control>. command implies the power to make arbitrary decisions and compel obedience <the army officer in command>. sway suggests the extent of exercised power or influence <the empire extended its sway over the region>. dominion stresses sovereign power or supreme authority <given dominion over all the animals>.

power, force, energy, strength, might mean the ability to exert effort. power may imply latent or exerted physical, mental, or spiritual ability to act or be acted upon <the awesome power of flowing water>. force implies the actual effective exercise of power <used enough force to push the door open>. energy applies to power expended or capable of being transformed into work <a worker with boundless energy>. strength applies to the quality or property of a person or thing that makes possible the exertion of force or the withstanding of strain, pressure, or attack <use weight training to build your strength>. might implies great or overwhelming power or strength <the belief that might makes right>.

Other Government and Politics Terms

agent provocateur, agitprop, autarky, cabal, egalitarianism, federalism, hegemony, plenipotentiary, popular sovereignty, socialism
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