Learned Hand, widely considered the greatest judge never to have served on the Supreme Court, cautioned against the mechanical examination of words in isolation.



“It is one of the surest indexes of a mature and developed jurisprudence not to make a fortress out of the dictionary,” Judge Hand wrote in a 1945 decision, “but to remember that statutes always have some purpose or object to accomplish, whose sympathetic and imaginative discovery is the surest guide to their meaning.”

Justices Turning More Frequently to Dictionary, and Not Just for Big Words - NYTimes.com via ATL.