ju·​ris·​pru·​dence | \ ˌju̇r-əs-ˈprü-dᵊn(t)s How to pronounce jurisprudence (audio) \

Definition of jurisprudence

1 : the science or philosophy of law they have no theories of jurisprudence but … decide each case on its facts— R. H. Bork
2a : a system or body of law Roman jurisprudence labor jurisprudence
b : the course of court decisions as distinguished from legislation and doctrine a tendency that has become apparent in the jurisprudence of the American courts— Bernard Schwartz
3 : a department of law medical jurisprudence

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Other Words from jurisprudence

jurisprudential \ ˌju̇r-​əs-​prü-​ˈden(t)-​shəl How to pronounce jurisprudence (audio) \ adjective
jurisprudentially \ ˌju̇r-​əs-​prü-​ˈden(t)-​sh(ə-​)lē How to pronounce jurisprudence (audio) \ adverb

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For a farewell to our jurisprudent, I wish unto him the gladsome light of jurisprudence. . . . With this valedictory to English jurist Sir Thomas Littleton, another jurist, Sir Edward Coke, welcomed two new words into English. In 1628, his jurisprudence meant "knowledge of or skill in law," a now archaic sense that reflects the literal meaning of the word. "Jurisprudence" goes back to Latin prudentia juris (literally "skill in law"), from which was derived the Late Latin formation jurisprudentia, and subsequently our word. The noun jurisprudent means "one skilled in law" - in other words, "a jurist." There's also "jurisprude," a 20th-century back- formation created from "jurisprudence" with influence from "prude." It means "one who makes ostentatious show of jurisprudential learning."

Examples of jurisprudence in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The group, which began as a band of religious students seeking to impose order after a deadly civil war, brought some measure of stability but enforced a strict reading of Islamic jurisprudence. Nabih Bulos, Los Angeles Times, 27 Aug. 2021 Along with Islamic jurisprudence, these northern recruits learned guerrilla war tactics and skills, before returning home to serve as local Taliban leaders. Scott Peterson, The Christian Science Monitor, 20 Aug. 2021 Here’s where the qualified-immunity jurisprudence really goes off the rails. Matt Ford, The New Republic, 20 Aug. 2021 Never mind that Marshall’s muscular jurisprudence as Chief Justice from 1801 to 1835 forged a national government and economy powerful enough to finally smash slavery a generation after his death. The Editorial Board, WSJ, 23 May 2021 Although both the Little Sisters of the Poor and the owners of Hobby Lobby won at the Supreme Court, the Court’s jurisprudence has left room for states to continue enforcing similar mandates in some circumstances. Alexandra Desanctis, National Review, 16 Aug. 2021 That would be the chief justice whose jurisprudence has in recent years upended precedents on voting rights and enabled the current move across the South to roll back laws liberalizing access to the polls, especially for people of color. BostonGlobe.com, 14 Aug. 2021 Under their harsh interpretation of religious jurisprudence, women and girls were pushed almost completely out of public life and forbidden from employment and schooling. al, 17 Aug. 2021 In preparation for that entry, Moses lays out a system of jurisprudence necessary for the proper functioning of the nation (1:9–18). Rabbi Avi Weiss, sun-sentinel.com, 12 July 2021

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

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First Known Use of jurisprudence

1654, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for jurisprudence

see jurisprudent

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The first known use of jurisprudence was in 1654

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Last Updated

23 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Jurisprudence.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/jurisprudence. Accessed 24 Sep. 2021.

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More Definitions for jurisprudence



English Language Learners Definition of jurisprudence

: the study of law


ju·​ris·​pru·​dence | \ ˌju̇r-əs-ˈprüd-ᵊns How to pronounce jurisprudence (audio) \

Legal Definition of jurisprudence

1a : a system or body of law in the federal jurisprudence especially : a body of law dealing with a specific issue or area labor jurisprudence
b : the course of court decisions as distinguished from legislation and doctrine the jurisprudence decided under the source provisionsLouisiana Civil Code
2 : the science or philosophy of law they have no theories of jurisprudence but…decide each case on its facts— R. H. Bork

Other Words from jurisprudence

jurisprudential \ ˌju̇r-​əs-​prü-​ˈden-​chəl How to pronounce jurisprudence (audio) \ adjective

History and Etymology for jurisprudence

Late Latin jurisprudentia knowledge of or skill in law, from Latin juris, genitive of jus right, law + prudentia wisdom, proficiency


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