Jurisdiction means having a legal right over something. A court can have jurisdiction over a legal question, and a government can have jurisdiction over another country or territory. Even your parents could be said to have jurisdiction over you while you're under 18.

This noun jurisdiction descends from Latin jūrisdictiō, formed from jūris (from jūs "law") plus dictio, "the act of saying." Think of it as who has the right to "say" what "the law" is. In the U.S., certain crimes are tried in state courts, but when a crime involves more than one state, jurisdiction moves to the federal court system, just as the local police step down and the investigation is handled by the FBI.

Definitions of jurisdiction
  1. noun
    in law; the territory within which power can be exercised
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    the jurisdiction or office of an abbot
    the territorial jurisdiction of an archbishop
    the territorial jurisdiction of an archdeacon
    the area over which a bailiff has jurisdiction
    the territorial jurisdiction of a caliph
    bishopric, diocese, episcopate
    the territorial jurisdiction of a bishop
    the jurisdiction of a justiciar
    range of jurisdiction or influence
    the local subdivision of a diocese committed to one pastor
    the jurisdiction of a patriarch
    in law, the jurisdiction where a trial will be held
    a district or province governed by a viceroy
    the diocese of an archbishop
    eparchy, exarchate
    a diocese of the Eastern Orthodox Church
    type of:
    district, dominion, territorial dominion, territory
    a region marked off for administrative or other purposes
  2. noun
    (law) the right and power to interpret and apply the law
    “courts having jurisdiction in this district”
    synonyms: legal power
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    type of:
    power, powerfulness
    possession of controlling influence
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