noun judg·ment \ ˈjəj-mənt \
variants: or judgement
|Updated on: 12 Aug 2018

Definition of judgment

1 a : the process of forming an opinion or evaluation by discerning and comparing
  • careful judgment of the odds
b : an opinion or estimate so formed
  • is not worth doing in my judgment
2 a : the capacity for judging : discernment
  • be guided by your own judgment
  • showing poor judgment
b : the exercise of this capacity
  • a situation requiring careful judgment
3 a : a formal utterance of an authoritative opinion
b : an opinion so pronounced
4 a : a formal decision given by a court
b (1) : an obligation (such as a debt) created by the decree of a court
(2) : a certificate evidencing such a decree
5 a capitalized : the final judging of humankind by God
  • sinners awaiting Judgment
b : a divine sentence or decision; specifically : a calamity held to be sent by God
  • believed their bad luck to be a judgment upon them
6 : a proposition stating something believed or asserted

judgment was our Word of the Day on 10/14/2014. Hear the podcast!

Examples of judgment in a Sentence

  1. We have to make a judgment about the value of their services.

  2. The judgment of the editors is final.

  3. Don't rush to judgment without examining the evidence.

  4. “Were his policies good or bad?” “I'll have to reserve judgment on that. It's too soon to know.”

  5. Use your own best judgment.

  6. The court granted a judgment in favor of the plaintiffs.

  7. the judgment of the court

  8. I won a judgment against the bank.

Recent Examples of judgment from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'judgment.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Did You Know?

Judgment can also be spelled "judgement," and usage experts have long disagreed over which spelling is the preferred one. Henry Fowler asserted, "The OED [Oxford English Dictionary] prefers the older and more reasonable spelling. 'Judgement' is therefore here recommended." William Safire held an opposite opinion, writing, "My judgment is that Fowler is not to be followed." "Judgement" is in fact the older spelling, but it dropped from favor and for centuries "judgment" was the only spelling to appear in dictionaries. That changed when the OED (Fowler's source) was published showing "judgement" as an equal variant. Today, "judgment" is more popular in the U.S., whereas both spellings make a good showing in Britain.

Origin and Etymology of judgment

see 2judge

Synonym Discussion of judgment

sense, common sense, judgment, wisdom mean ability to reach intelligent conclusions. sense implies a reliable ability to judge and decide with soundness, prudence, and intelligence.
    • a choice showing good sense
common sense suggests an average degree of such ability without sophistication or special knowledge.
    • common sense tells me it's wrong
judgment implies sense tempered and refined by experience, training, and maturity.
    • they relied on her judgment for guidance
wisdom implies sense and judgment far above average.
    • a leader of rare wisdom

Financial Definition of JUDGMENT


What It Is

A judgment is a court order to pay someone else a sum of money or other remedy.

How It Works

Let's say John Doe owns a pit bull he hasn't trained very well. One day, John's dog jumps the fence and mauls Jane Smith's dog, Fifi. Jane rushes Fifi to the vet and incurs $2,000 in vet bills.

Jane sues John Doe for $3,000 to compensate for the vet bills and pain and suffering. The judge agrees and orders John to pay the $3,000. This order is a judgment against John, and it is usually a matter of public record. If John does not pay the judgment, Jane can ask the court for remedy, which might include the court placing a lien on his assets, garnishing his wages or other actions.

There are different kinds of judgments. A default judgment, for example, occurs in favor of the plaintiff when the defendant fails to appear in court to defend himself or does not respond to a summons. A deficiency judgment occurs when the sale of a seized piece of property does not generate enough cash to pay the judgment and the court has to place a lien on more property.

Why It Matters

Judgments are reported to credit agencies and generally stay on a person's credit report as a negative item for seven years. Judgments aren't always monetary, though. A judge could order John to build a higher fence on his property, for example, or take the dog away.

JUDGMENT Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of judgment for English Language Learners

  • : an opinion or decision that is based on careful thought

  • : the act or process of forming an opinion or making a decision after careful thought : the act of judging something or someone

  • : the ability to make good decisions about what should be done

JUDGMENT Defined for Kids


noun judg·ment
variants: or judgement \ˈjəj-mənt\

Definition of judgment for Students

1 : a decision or opinion (as of a court) given after careful consideration
2 : an opinion or estimate formed by examining and comparing
  • This one's the best in my judgment.
3 : the ability for reaching a decision after careful consideration
  • I trust your judgment.

Law Dictionary


noun judg·ment
variants: also judgement play \ˈjəj-mənt\

legal Definition of judgment

1 a : a formal decision or determination on a matter or case by a court; especially : final judgment in this entry — compare dictum, disposition, finding, holding, opinion, ruling, verdict
Note: Under Rule 54 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure judgment encompasses a decree and any order from which an appeal lies.
cognovit judgment \käg-ˈnō-vit-\
: an acknowledgment by a debtor of the existence of a debt with agreement that an adverse judgment may be entered without notice or a hearing : confession of judgment
consent judgment
: a judgment approved and entered by a court by consent of the parties upon agreement or stipulation : consent decree at decree
declaratory judgment
: a judgment declaring a right or establishing the legal status or interpretation of a law or instrument
  • a declaratory judgment that the law is unconstitutional
— compare damage 2, injunction, specific performance at performance
default judgment
: a judgment entered by a court after an entry of default against a party for failure to appear, to file a pleading, or to take other required procedural steps called also judgment by default; compare decree pro confesso at decree
deficiency judgment
: a judgment in favor of a creditor for the balance of a debt that is not satisfied in full by the security; especially : such a judgment following a mortgage foreclosure
final judgment
: a judgment that leaves nothing further to be done on a matter except execution
in personam judgment
: personal judgment in this entry
in rem judgment
: judgment in rem in this entry
judgment as a matter of law
: a judgment rendered against a party on an issue at any time before the case is submitted to the jury on the ground that there is no legally sufficient evidentiary basis for a reasonable jury to find for the party on that issue
judgment by default
: default judgment in this entry
judgment in personam plural judgments in personam
: personal judgment in this entry
judgment in rem \-in-ˈrem\ plural judgments in rem
: a judgment affecting the status of a particular thing (as an item of property) or subject matter : a judgment rendered by a court exercising in rem jurisdiction — compare personal judgment in this entry
judgment nisi plural judgments nisi
: a judgment that is not final or absolute
  • after default and judgment nisi requiring them to show cause why it should not be made final
  • Code of Alabama
judgment non obstante veredicto \-ˈnän-əb-ˈstan-tē-ˌver-ə-ˈdik-tō, -ˈnȯn-ȯb-ˈstän-tā-ˌvā-rā-ˈdēk-tō\ plural judgments non obstante veredicto
non obstante veredicto, from Medieval Latin, notwithstanding the verdict
: judgment notwithstanding the verdict in this entry
judgment notwithstanding the verdict
: a judgment that may be granted upon a motion by a defendant whose motion for a directed verdict was denied and that sets aside the jury's verdict in favor of a judgment in accordance with the motion for directed verdict called also judgment non obstante veredicto
Note: Judgment notwithstanding the verdict has been replaced by judgment as a matter of law in federal practice.
judgment of acquittal
: a judgment that is rendered upon motion of the defendant or the court's own motion at the close of the evidence and that acquits the defendant of one or more of the offenses charged when the evidence is insufficient to sustain a conviction called also directed verdict, directed verdict of acquittal
judgment on the merits
: a judgment made after consideration of the substantive as distinguished from procedural issues in a case
judgment on the pleadings
: summary judgment in this entry
money judgment
: a judgment directing the payment of a sum of money
nihil-dicit judgment
: a judgment entered against a defendant who has failed to make an effective answer (as because the answer is withdrawn or does not respond to the merits of the plaintiff's case) called also nil dicit judgment
personal judgment
: a judgment determining the rights and liabilities of a particular person : a judgment rendered by a court exercising personal jurisdiction over a person — compare judgment in rem in this entry
summary judgment
: judgment that may be granted upon a party's motion when the pleadings, discovery, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that the party is entitled to judgment in its favor as a matter of law
Note: Under Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, summary judgment may be granted on all or on just part of a case.
b : an obligation (as a debt) created by a decree of a court
  • collection of…automobile judgments from uninsured motorists
  • Harvard Law Review
also : an official document embodying such a decision or decree
c : a declaration by a court of the conviction of a criminal defendant and the punishment to be imposed; specifically : sentence
2 : the action of judging : the mental or intellectual process of forming an opinion or making a decision; also : an opinion or decision so formed
business judgment
: a decision by a person or body (as a board of directors) having authority to act on behalf of a business and usually marked by reasonableness and the exercise of due care; also : the ability to make such decisions
substituted judgment
: a decision regarding medical treatment made by a person (as a family member) on behalf of a person who is incompetent and unable to decide for himself or herself

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excessive admiration or flattery

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