[ lit-i-gey-shuhn ]
/ ˌlɪt ɪˈgeɪ ʃən /
Save This Word!

the act or process of litigating: a matter that is still in litigation.
a lawsuit.


Click for a side-by-side comparison of meanings. Use the word comparison feature to learn the differences between similar and commonly confused words.
There are grammar debates that never die; and the ones highlighted in the questions in this quiz are sure to rile everyone up once again. Do you know how to answer the questions that cause some of the greatest grammar debates?
Question 1 of 7
Which sentence is correct?

Origin of litigation

1560–70; <Late Latin lītigātiōn- (stem of lītigātiō) a dispute. See litigate, -ion


non·lit·i·ga·tion, nounpre·lit·i·ga·tion, nounre·lit·i·ga·tion, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does litigation mean?

Litigation is the process of engaging in a legal proceeding, such as a lawsuit.

The word litigation can also mean a lawsuit.

To be in litigation typically means to be engaged in a civil legal proceeding (as opposed to a criminal one, in which one is said to be on trial). The verb litigate means engage in a legal proceeding. It can mean to bring a lawsuit or to contest one. A litigator is a lawyer, especially one who specializes in civil cases. A litigant is a person engaged in a lawsuit.

Example: Their goal is to avoid litigation, so they’re going to try to get you to settle out of court.

Where does litigation come from?

The first records of the word litigation come from the 1560s. It comes from the Late Latin lītigātiōn-, meaning “a dispute.” It ultimately derives from the Latin verb lītigāre, meaning “to go to law,” from līt- (a stem of līs, meaning “lawsuit”) and agere, “to carry on.”

Litigation always involves a dispute, often in the form of a lawsuit that carries on and on. This means that litigation is often expensive and time-consuming (which might be good for the litigators but not so much for their clients). For this reason, people often try to avoid litigation when they’re on the wrong end of a lawsuit. Some choose to go through arbitration, which is a process in which a third party helps to settle the dispute.

Those who do engage in litigation and present their cases in court can still agree to settle before a decision is reached by the court—meaning they agree to end litigation and come to a deal on their own (though often still with the help of the litigators).

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms related to litigation?

What are some synonyms for litigation?

What are some words that share a root or word element with litigation

What are some words that often get used in discussing litigation?


How is litigation used in real life?

The word litigation is always used in a legal context, most often in reference to a lawsuit.



Try using litigation!

True or False? 

Litigation usually refers to a criminal trial.

How to use litigation in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for litigation

/ (ˌlɪtɪˈɡeɪʃən) /

the act or process of bringing or contesting a legal action in court
a judicial proceeding or contest
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012