from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Law The right of a court to hear a particular case, based on the scope of its authority over the type of case and the parties to the case.
  • noun Authority or control.
  • noun The extent of authority or control.
  • noun The territorial range of authority or control.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun Judicial authority; the legal power of hearing and determining controversies or accusations; the right of exercising the functions of a judge or of a legal tribunal.
  • noun Controlling authority; the right of making and enforcing laws or regulations; the capacity of determining rules of action or use, and exacting penalties: as, the jurisdiction of a state over its subjects.
  • noun The domain within which power is exercised; specifically, the territory over which the authority of a state, court, or judge extends.
  • noun The function or capacity of judging or governing in general; the natural right to judge; inherent power of decision or control.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun (Law) The legal power, right, or authority of a particular court to hear and determine causes, to try criminals, or to execute justice; judicial authority over a cause or class of causes.
  • noun The authority of a sovereign power to govern or legislate; the right of making or enforcing laws; the power or right of exercising authority.
  • noun Sphere of authority; the limits within which any particular power may be exercised, or within which a government or a court has authority.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun the power, right, or authority to interpret and apply the law
  • noun the power or right to exercise authority
  • noun the authority of a sovereign power to govern or legislate
  • noun the limits or territory within which authority may be exercised

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun (law) the right and power to interpret and apply the law
  • noun in law; the territory within which power can be exercised


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English jurisdiccioun, from Old French juridicion, from Latin iūrisdictiō, iūrisdictiōn- : iūris, genitive of iūs, law; see yewes- in Indo-European roots + dictiō, dictiōn-, declaration (from dictus, past participle of dīcere, to say; see deik- in Indo-European roots).]


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  • The officer of the law of a certain village was one day sitting under a shade tree, resting his eyes, when a disheveled figure rushed to his side and began to shout, "Help, you must help me. I am a stranger here, and while I was passing through your town someone jumped me from behind and stole everything I own. You are in charge here, and I demand that you find the culprit."

    The officer cracked one eye at the stranger and said, "I see that you still have your undergarments."

    "Yes, these they did not take."

    "Well," said the lawman, "The thief was not from our village, things are done with thoroughness here. It's out of my jurisdiction and I cannot be of help." --"Magnus Machina" by Jan Cox p.129

    January 17, 2008