judg·​ment ˈjəj-mənt How to pronounce judgment (audio)
variants or judgement
: the process of forming an opinion or evaluation by discerning and comparing
careful judgment of the odds
: an opinion or estimate so formed
is not worth doing in my judgment
: the capacity for judging : discernment
be guided by your own judgment
showing poor judgment
: the exercise of this capacity
a situation requiring careful judgment
: a formal utterance of an authoritative opinion
: an opinion so pronounced
: a formal decision given by a court
: an obligation (such as a debt) created by the decree of a court
: a certificate evidencing such a decree
capitalized : the final judging of humankind by God
sinners awaiting Judgment
: a divine sentence or decision
specifically : a calamity held to be sent by God
believed their bad luck to be a judgment upon them
: a proposition stating something believed or asserted

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 that "the OED [Oxford English Dictionary] prefers the older & 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 on his spelling of judgement." 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.

Choose the Right Synonym for 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

Example Sentences

We have to make a judgment about the value of their services. The judgment of the editors is final. Don't rush to judgment without examining the evidence. “Were his policies good or bad?” “I'll have to reserve judgment on that. It's too soon to know.” Use your own best judgment. The court granted a judgment in favor of the plaintiffs. the judgment of the court I won a judgment against the bank. See More
Recent Examples on the Web Years of composing reviews on tight deadlines have made apparent to me the fluidity of critical judgment. Charles Mcnultytheater Critic, Los Angeles Times, 5 Jan. 2023 No matter whether a book, present or skin, the tragedy of judgment through the eyes of ignorance or mindless prejudice against the wrapping hurts us all. Steve West, Sun Sentinel, 22 Dec. 2022 But the risk of judgment does not go into that too much. Evan Nicole Brown, The Hollywood Reporter, 19 Dec. 2022 Religion, in the hands of some folks, has transformed into a type of judgment, a way of separating the wheat from the chaff. Robin Givhan, Washington Post, 13 Dec. 2022 Drag performers say their events are spaces where both the LGBTQ community and allies can laugh, sing, and dance free of judgment. Kiara Alfonseca, ABC News, 10 Dec. 2022 Hoover was, with rare lapses of judgment, a master operator in a federal government whose size and potency grew unceasingly during his lifetime. Michael Kazin, The New Republic, 9 Dec. 2022 These are all issues of judgment, and a political process has to go forward. CBS News, 4 Dec. 2022 Creative conversations encourage participants to courageously put forth ideas without fear of judgment. Chuck Wisner, Fortune, 29 Nov. 2022 See More

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.

Word History


see judge entry 2

First Known Use

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of judgment was in the 13th century


Dictionary Entries Near judgment

Cite this Entry

“Judgment.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/judgment. Accessed 3 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition


variants or judgement
: the act of judging
: a decision given by a court
: the process of forming an opinion by examining and comparing
: an opinion so formed
: the ability to judge : discernment

Legal Definition


variants also judgement
: 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 sense 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 finalCode 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.

: an obligation (as a debt) created by a decree of a court
collection of…automobile judgments from uninsured motoristsHarvard Law Review
also : an official document embodying such a decision or decree
: a declaration by a court of the conviction of a criminal defendant and the punishment to be imposed
specifically : sentence
: 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

More from Merriam-Webster on judgment

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