obiter dictum

[ ob-i-ter dik-tuhm ]
See synonyms for obiter dictum on
noun,plural ob·i·ter dic·ta [ob-i-ter dik-tuh]. /ˈɒb ɪ tər ˈdɪk tə/.
  1. an incidental or passing remark, opinion, etc.

  2. Law. an incidental or supplementary opinion by a judge in deciding a case, upon a matter not essential to the decision, and therefore not binding as precedent.

Origin of obiter dictum

1805–15; <Latin: (a) saying by the way

Words Nearby obiter dictum Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use obiter dictum in a sentence

  • "It is an obiter dictum," somebody said to me, apparently thinking that Latin would persuade me.

  • The assumption in this obiter dictum seemed to be that Rabelais is an obscene writer.

    Impressions And Comments | Havelock Ellis
  • Purely as an obiter dictum the court discussed briefly the interpretation of the original act in respect to rate-making power.

  • Several decisions not only adopted the obiter dictum of the Osborne case, above described, but proceeded to expand upon it.

  • In the preceding chronicles no mention, I believe, has been made of one little bird that deserves more than a mere obiter dictum.

    Birds of the Rockies | Leander Sylvester Keyser

British Dictionary definitions for obiter dictum

obiter dictum

/ (ˈɒbɪtə ˈdɪktəm, ˈəʊ-) /

nounplural obiter dicta (ˈdɪktə)
  1. law an observation by a judge on some point of law not directly in issue in the case before him and thus neither requiring his decision nor serving as a precedent, but nevertheless of persuasive authority

  2. any comment, remark, or observation made in passing

Origin of obiter dictum

Latin: something said in passing

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