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Constitutional Glossary

The Constitution was written in the English of its day. Given that English, unlike Latin, is a living language, the meaning of many words has evolved in the intervening 225 plus years. Accordingly, in order to understand to original intent of the Framers, one must appreciate the words as they meant at the time of their use. Our Constitutional Glossary provides a collection of words used in the Constitution and their definitions as compiled in Noah Webster's 1828 American Dictionary of the American Language (New York: Published by S. Converse and printed by Hezekiah Howe - New Haven)

Webster's 1828 dictionary is the closest contemprary dictionary to the time of the writing of the Constitution and, therefore, provides us the most accurate representation available of the Constitution's words and their meaning.

Note: This is not a 100% complete listing but rather an arbitrary selection of what we believe to be significant words. Additionally, it is a work in progress and will be expanded as time permits.

Go to the Constitutional Glossary