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47 Buff. L. Rev. 227 (1999)
The Lexicon Has Become a Fortress: The United States Supreme Court's Use of Dictionaries

handle is hein.journals/buflr47 and id is 235 raw text is: The Lexicon Has Become a Fortress:
The United States Supreme Court's Use of
Dictionaries
SAMUEL A. THUMMAt AND JEFFREY L. KIRCHMEIERtt
lIlt is one of the surest indexes of a mature and developed
jurisprudence not to make a fortress out of the dictionary; but to
remember that statutes always have some purpose or object to ac-
complish, whose sympathetic and imaginative discovery is the sur-
est guide to their meaning.1
When I use a word, Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful
tone, it means just what I choose it to mean-neither more nor
less.2
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Introduction    ........................................................................ 228
I. A Brief History of the Dictionary .................................... 233
A. General Usage Dictionaries ................................. 233
B. Law Dictionaries ............................. I .................... 238
C. The        Prescriptive-Descriptive          Dictionary
D ebate  .................................................................. 241
II. The Court's Historical Use of the Dictionary ............... 244
A. The Beginning ...................................................... 244
t Director, Brown & Bain, PA, Phoenix, Arizona. B.S., 1984, Iowa State
University; J.D., 1988, The University of Iowa College of Law.
tt Associate Professor, City University of New York School of Law. B.A., 1984,
Case Western Reserve University; J.D., 1989, Case Western Reserve University
School of Law.
The authors wish to express their sincere appreciation to Barbara J.
Dawson, Jason Gerber, Richard E. Gordon, Yannis Macheris and Adam Slavin
for their assistance in researching and editing this Article and to Kaye D. Leach
and Kathryn Rogers Gross for their word processing assistance.
1. Cabell v. Markham, 148 F.2d 737, 739 (2d Cir.) (L. Hand, J.), affd, 326 U.S.
404(1945).
2. LEwIS CARROLL, Through the Looking Glass, in THE COPLETE WORKS OF
LEWIS CARROLL 214 (Mod. Lib. ed., 1936).

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