(redirected from dictums)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus.


[Latin, A remark.] A statement, comment, or opinion. An abbreviated version of obiter dictum, "a remark by the way," which is a collateral opinion stated by a judge in the decision of a case concerning legal matters that do not directly involve the facts or affect the outcome of the case, such as a legal principle that is introduced by way of illustration, argument, analogy, or suggestion.

Dictum has no binding authority and, therefore, cannot be cited as precedent in subsequent lawsuits. Dictum is the singular form of dicta.


n. Latin for "remark", a comment by a judge in a decision or ruling which is not required to reach the decision, but may state a related legal principle as the judge understands it. While it may be cited in legal argument, it does not have the full force of a precedent (previous court decisions or interpretations) since the comment was not part of the legal basis for judgment. The standard counter argument is: "it is only dictum (or dicta)." (See: dicta)



DICTUM, practice. Dicta are judicial opinions expressed by the judges on points that do not necessarily arise in the case.
     2. Dicta are regarded as of little authority, on account of the manner in which they are delivered; it frequently happening that they are given without much reflection, at the bar, without previous examination. "If," says Huston, J., in Frants v. Brown, 17 Serg. & Rawle, 292, "general dicta in cases turning on special circumstances are to be considered as establishing the law, nothing is yet settled, or can be long settled." "What I have said or written, out of the case trying," continues the learned judge, "or shall say or write, under such circumstances, maybe taken as my opinion at the time, without argument or full consideration; but I will never consider myself bound by it when the point is fairly trying and fully argued and considered. And I protest against any person considering such obiter dicta as my deliberate opinion." And it was considered by another learned judge. Mr. Baron Richards, to be a "great misfortune that dicta are taken down from judges, perhaps incorrectly, and then cited as absolute propositions." 1 Phillim. Rep. 1406; S. C. 1 Eng. Ecc. R. 129; Ram. on Judgm. ch. 5, p. 36; Willes' Rep. 666; 1 H. Bl. 53-63; 2 Bos. & P. 375; 7 T. R. 287; 3 B. & A. 341; 2 Bing. 90. The doctrine of the courts of France on this subject is stated in 11 Toull. 177, n. 133.
     3. In the French law, the report of a judgment made by one of the judges who has given it, is called the dictum. Poth. Proc. Civ. partie 1, c. 5, art. 2.

References in periodicals archive ?
"Dictums 10:120" grew out of research Shawky commenced two years earlier, during a Sharjah Biennial residency.
For the minute cosmopolitan audience of contemporary art aficionados and tourists -- few of whom are believed to actually speak Urdu -- "Dictums 10:120" looked and sounded like a pleasant bit of easily consumed exotica nestled amid an event whose works ran the gamut from intellectually taxing to opaque.
Winner of the 2013 Sharjah Biennial Prize, the "Dictums 10:120" performance was copiously documented, and its multimedia components have been segmented and reassembled for consumption in "Wael Shawky: Horsemen Adore Perfumes and other stories," the solo show curated by Sharjah Art Foundation director Hoor al-Qasimi, presently up on the SJF's sprawling grounds.
Qasimi has unraveled the different strands of the "Dictums 10:120" performance into its component parts and staged each element separately.
The comic inversions at the heart of "Dictums 10:120" characterize Shawky's most-interesting past work.
Such a step will be historic and make us feel that we are following what our religions preach, instead of observing religious dictums without making any real use of these for the benefit of mankind.
In fact, this will make us to be true to our religious dictum.
What he was saying is that no country has a unilateral right to impose no-fly zones within other nations and then enforce those dictums militarily.
After a brief account of Marian Wright Edelman's Baptist beginnings with emphasis on service as "the very purpose of life and not something you do in your spare time," the founder and president of the Children's Defense Fund, shares with us the most empowering gift a parent can give a child: "Twenty-Five Lessons for Life." These dictums include: "Never work just for money or for power.