Definition of dictum
dictaplay \-tə\ also
1 : a noteworthy statement: such asa : a formal pronouncement of a principle, proposition, or opinion awaiting the king's dictumb : an observation intended or regarded as authoritative must follow the dictum “First, do no harm”
2 law : a judge's expression of opinion on a point other than the precise issue involved in determining a case
Examples of dictum in a Sentence
A doctor must follow the dictum of “First, do no harm.”
Recent Examples of dictum from the Web
What has become of the prescient post-WWII dictum ‘Russians out, Americans in, Germans down’?
So too did corn and wheat fields, the result of Mao’s dictum to grow grain everywhere, along with a hundred pseudo-scientific schemes for better yields.
The award follows the dictum of Carnegie, who once said that the person who dies rich dies disgraced, said Vartan Gregorian, president of the Carnegie Corp. of New York.
Ford’s bare-knuckles dictum about the politics of impeachment still reflects the reality of Washington.
Upon being elected mayor in 2006, Bogdán, who completed only three years of formal schooling but is a restless autodidact, set about helping villagers understand the power of that dictum.
Only recently, as fat America seeks to understand the roots of its eating disorder, has the-most-important-meal-of-the-day dictum begun to be questioned in the media.
Hanging on the wall behind where Wiggins was seated on a stool was the class dictum.
Even the sainted Strunk & White have been repeatedly demonstrated to be both haphazard grammarians and in the case of White, habitual violators of their own dictums.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'dictum.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
How to Use dictum in Law and Beyond
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.
DICTUM Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of dictum for English Language Learners
: a statement or well-known remark that expresses an important idea or rule
Legal Definition of dictum
Additional Notes on dictum
Dicta have persuasive value in making an argument, but they are not binding as precedent.
Origin and Etymology of dictum
Latin, utterance, from neuter of dictus, past participle of dicere to say
Seen and Heard
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