Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Dicta or Dictum Definition:

Latin: saying.

Related Terms: Obiter Dictum

Short for and may also be called obiter dictum.

James Ballentine's Ballentine's Law Dictionary (Rochester, New York: The Lawyers Cooperative Publishing Company, 1969), lists dicta as the plural of dictum. The linkage with obiter dicta or obiter dictum is apparent from their definition not of the latter but of dicta or dictum:

"Often referred to as an obiter dicta or obiter, being expressions in an opinion of the court which are not necessarily to support the decision.... A statement in an opinion with respect to a matter which is not an issue necessary for the decision."

The third edition of anonymous Latin for Lawyers (London: Sweet & Maxwell Limited, 1960), at page 252 translates dictum as saying.

Used in law to refer to an observation by a judge on a matter not specifically before the court or not necessary in determining the issue before the court.

A side opinion which does not form part of the judgment for the purposes of stare decisis.

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