Definition of obiter dictum in US English:

obiter dictum


  • 1A judge's incidental expression of opinion, not essential to the decision and not establishing precedent.

    • ‘I am in no doubt that the passage was part of the decision and was not obiter dicta.’
    • ‘This Court will be very busy if we grant special leave in respect of judges' obiter dicta.’
    • ‘Remarks about equitable leases were therefore merely obiter dicta; and although they pointed the way to a solution of this problem, they have not been taken up in any later decision.’
    • ‘The case decided by the making of orders which are supported by chaotic or contradictory reasoning is not an authority - it lacks a ratio decidendi - but the obiter dicta of particular judges may have considerable influence.’
    • ‘That submission runs into the authority of a number of final courts in the world and obiter dicta of this Court.’
    whispered remark, confidential remark, stage whisper
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    1. 1.1 An incidental remark.
      • ‘There it is - the obiter dictum that bespeaks the current state of Native American education, which is still deeply troubled after more than a hundred years of struggle.’
      • ‘Mr. Smith treats certain of my remarks about Kierkegaard as though they were obiter dicta, insouciantly tossed off without context or explanation.’
      • ‘Rather than trying to capture an argument whose start I missed, which depends on knowledge of philosophers I have not read, I'll note a couple of obiter dicta: bq…’
      • ‘Within the private sector, few would quarrel with the International Monetary Fund's obiter dicta about wage restraint being necessary for competitiveness.’
      • ‘The Maxims were collected after Napoleon's death from what editor David Chandler rightfully terms his obiter dicta, casual remarks, observations, or comments that were culled from a vast mass of documents, letters, and memoirs.’
      remark, comment, statement, utterance, pronouncement, declaration
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Latin obiter ‘in passing’ + dictum ‘something that is said’.


obiter dictum

/ˌōbidər ˈdiktəm/