Ordinary-Meaning Rule Law and Legal Definition
Ordinary meaning rule is a principle of statutory interpretation that when a word is not defined in a statute or other legal instrument, the court normally construes it in accordance with its ordinary or natural meaning. This rule guides courts faced with litigation that turns on the meaning of a term not defined by the statute, or on that of a word found within a definition itself.
According to this rule, statutes are to be interpreted using the ordinary meaning of the language of the statute unless a statute explicitly defines some of its terms otherwise. However, if the words are clear, they must be applied, even though the intention of the legislator may have been different or the result is harsh or undesirable.