Definition of dictum
- awaiting the king's dictum
- must follow the dictum "First, do no harm"
A doctor must follow the dictum of “First, do no harm.”
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The word dictum is frequently used in philosophy, but also in economics, political science, and other fields. Almost any condensed piece of wisdom—"The perfect is the enemy of the good", "Buy low, sell high", "All politics is local", etc.—can be called a dictum. In the law, judges may often add to a written opinion an obiter dictum, or "statement made in passing"—a strong statement that isn't directly relevant to the case being decided. If they're well thought out and eloquent, obiter dicta (notice the plural form) may be referred to by later judges and lawyers for years afterward.
: a statement or well-known remark that expresses an important idea or rule
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