Printable Version
Pronunciation: ju-ris-dik-shên Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. Authority, the right and power to interpret the law. 2. The territory in which an official or office has authority.

Notes: We find very little area to explore in this word. It has an adjective, jurisdictional, which makes the obvious adverb possible. The adjective jurisdictive didn't make it very far but it is still out there in the Oxford English Dictionary.

In Play: Hey, kids! Do your parents invade the privacy of your room and try to dictate how it is administered? Try reining them in with something like this: "Dad, you are in my jurisdiction now; don't try to impose your sense of tidiness here." This puts him in the position of having to decide which is more important: vocabulary or neatness.

Word History: Today's is another good word seined intact from Latin, this time, iurisdictio(n-), a compound of iuris, a variant of ius "law" + dictio(n-) "declaration" from dictus, the past participle of dicere "to say". Latin had no letter J, so Ius is also behind English justice, jury and other words having to do with right and justice. Latin dictus "said" is visible in many English words related to speech: diction, dictation, dictator, whose 'dictation' everyone has to take. But the root dik- began its life meaning "to show", which is how it ended up in English as teach. How it became toe is a great puzzlement until you recall its relation to what Romans called a digitus "finger"—from the same root. Digits are quintessential pointers and, of course, our ancestors were less likely than we to wear shoes. (The fickle finger of fate is now pointing in gratitude at Katy Brezger, a major contributor in the Alpha Agora and to the Good Word series, for this good word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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