Residence “Legally” Defined

The following definitions for “residence” are taken from Ballantine’s Law Dictionary (3rd edition), Bouvier’s Law Dictionary (6th edition), Black’s Law Dictionary (2nd edition), and Webster’s Dictionary (1828):




A term of dual meaning, sometimes meaning a temporary, permanent, or transient character of abode; at other times meaning one’s fixed abode or domicil [25 AM J2d Dom § 4]. Sometimes a mere physical presence in a place; at other times an abiding in a place with intent to make it one’s home [Manufacturers’ Mut. Ins. Co. v. Friedman, 213 Ark 9, 209 SW2d 102, 1 ALR2d 557; People ex rel. Heydenreich v. Lyons, 374 111557, 30 NE 2d 46, 132 ALR 511; Dixie Fire Ins. Co. v. McAdams (Tex Civ App) 235 SW2d 207, 41 ALR2d 714]. Sometimes a temporary, at other times an actual or permanent, abiding place [2 AM J2d Adopt § 52]. A word having a variety of meanings dependent upon the context in which it is employed as well as the subject matter involved [Hughes v. Illinois Public Aid Co. 2 Ill 2d 374, 118 NE2d 14, 43 ALR2d 1421], sometimes meaning domicil, at other times not [State v. Garford Trucking, 4 NJ 346, 72 A2d 851, 16 ALR2d 1407]. A dwelling house.

Under the provision of the Uniform Negotiable Instruments Act for sending notice of dishonor of a bill or note to the residence of an indorser, the term “residence” is not used in a strict sense as necessarily implying a permanent, exclusive, or actual abode in the place, but it may be satisfied by a temporary, partial, or even constructive residence [11 AM J2d B&N § 856].

As to requisite residence for purposes of old age assistance [Anno: 43 ALR2d 1427. As to relationship between “residence” and “domicil” under venue statutes, see Anno:12 ALR2d 757].

See domicil; inhabitancy; legal residence; one residence; one residence only.




  1. The place of one’s domicil. There is a difference between a man’s residence and his domicil. He may have his domicil in Philadelphia, and still he may have a residence in New York; for although a man can have but one domicil, he may have several residences. A residence is generally transient in its nature, it becomes a domicil when it is taken up animo manendi [Roberts; Ecc. R. 75].
  2. Residence is prima facie evidence of national character, but this may at all times be explained. When it is for a special purpose and transient in its nature, it does not destroy the national character.
  3. In some cases the law requires that the residence of an officer shall be in the district in which he is required to exercise his functions. Fixing his residence elsewhere without an intention of returning, would violate such law [Vide the cases cited under the article Domicil; Place of residence].




Living or dwelling in a certain place permanently or for a considerable length of time. The place where a man makes his home, or where he dwells permanently or for an extended period of time.

  • The difference between a residence and a domicile may not be capable of easy definition; but every one can see at least this distinction: A person domiciled in one state may, for temporary reasons, such as health, reside for one or more years in some other place deemed more favorable. He does not, by so doing, forfeit his domicile in the first state, or, in any proper sense, become a non-resident of it, unless some intention, manifested by some act, of abandoning his residence in the first state is shown [Walker’s Estate v. Walker, 1 Mo. App. 404].
  • “Residence” means a fixed and permanent abode or dwelling-place for the time being, as contradistinguished from a mere temporary locality of existence. So does “inhabitancy;” and the two are distinguishable in this respect from “domicile.” [In re Wrigley, 8 Wend. (N.Y.) 134].
  • As they are used in the New York Code of Procedure, the terms “residence” and “resident” mean legal residence; and legal residence is the place of a man’s fixed habitation, where his political rights are to be exercised, and where he is liable to taxation [Houghton v. Ault, 16 How. Prac. (N.Y.) 77].
  • A distinction is recognized between legal and actual residence. A person may be a legal resident of one place and an actual resident of another. He may abide in one state or country without surrendering his legal residence in another, if he so intends. His legal residence may be merely ideal, but his actual residence must be substantial. He may not actually abide at his legal residence at all, but his actual residence must be his abiding place [Tipton v. Tipton, 87 Ky. 243, 8 S.W. 440; Hinds v. Hinds, 1 Iowa, 36; Fitzgerald v. Arel, 63 Iowa, 104, 18 N.W. 713, 50 Am. Rep. 733; Ludlow v. Szold, 90 Iowa, 175, 57 N.W. 676].





  1. The act of abiding or dwelling in a place for some continuance of time; as the residence of an American in France or Italy for a year.
    1. The confessor had often made considerable residences in Normandy.
  2. The place of abode; a dwelling; a habitation.
    1. Caprea had been – the residence of Tiberius several years.
  3. That which falls to the bottom of liquors.
  4. In the canon and common law, the abode of a person or incumbent on his benefice; opposed to non-residence.
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