• jurisprudence •
Pronunciation: ju-ris-pru-dêns • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun, mass
Meaning: 1. The study or philosophy of law. 2. The system of laws (legal system) at a particular time and place.
Notes: Today's Good Word is the noun from the adjective and noun, jurisprudent, as "a jurisprudent author", or "someone who practices law: a judge, lawyer, or barrister". The adjectival usage here is shared by jurisprudential.
In Play: This word is pretty much bound to the concept of law: "The judge who sentenced me didn't have any idea of American jurisprudence!" It doesn't allow much in the way of figurative meandering: "The jurisprudence of Scotland is as weird as its treatment of the English language."
Word History: Before 1066 all laws were local and enforced in the manorial or shire courts. Under the Normans, Royal Courts, conducted in French, began to emerge from the King's Council (Curia Regis). Today's Good Word was borrowed from French jurisprudence, inherited from Late Latin iurisprudentia "the science of law" from iuris "of right, of law" (genitive of ius + prudentia "knowledge, a foreseeing". (Latin had no letter J, pronounced Y, so it used I.) This root shows up in jury and just. The R ~ S variation is called 'rhotacization' and was quite popular over the history of Latin. Latin prudentia "knowledge, foresight" comes from pruden(t)s a contraction of providen(t)s, the present participle of providere "to provide, see ahead".