Legal Dictionary


Definition of bill



    Anglo-Norman bille, from Old French bulle, from Mediaeval Latin bulla ("seal", "sealed document").


bill (plural bills)

  1. A written list or inventory. (Now obsolete except in specific senses or set phrases; bill of lading, bill of goods, etc.)
  2. A document, originally sealed; a formal statement or official memorandum. (Now obsolete except with certain qualifying words; bill of health, bill of sale etc.)
  3. A draft of a law, presented to a legislature for enactment; a proposed or projected law.

    * 1600: Why, I'll exhibit a bill in the parliament for the putting down of men. � William Shakespeare, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Act II, Scene I, line 28.

  4. (obsolete, law) A declaration made in writing, stating some wrong the complainant has suffered from the defendant, or a fault committed by some person against a law.
  5. (US) A piece of paper money; a banknote.

    * 1830, Anon, The Galaxy of Wit: Or, Laughing Philosopher, Being a Collection of Choice Anecdotes, Many of Which Originated in or about "The Literary Emporium" � He gave the change for a three dollar bill. Upon examination, the bill proved to be counterfeit.

  6. A written note of goods sold, services rendered, or work done, with the price or charge; an invoice.

    * 1607, My lord, here is my bill. � William Shakespeare, Timon of Athens, Act III, Scene IV, line 85.

  7. A paper, written or printed, and posted up or given away, to advertise something, as a lecture, a play, or the sale of goods; a placard; a poster; a handbill.

    * 1595: In the meantime I will draw a bill of properties, such as our play wants. � William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Act I, Scene II, line 104.

    She put up the bill in her parlor window. � Dickens.

  8. A writing binding the signer or signers to pay a certain sum at a future day or on demand, with or without interest, as may be stated in the document. A bill of exchange. In the United States, it is usually called a note, a note of hand, or a promissory note.

    * 1600: Ay, and Rato-lorum too; and a gentleman born, Master Parson; who writes himself Armigero, in any bill, warrant, quittance, or obligation, Armigero. � William Shakespeare, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Act I, Scene I, line 8.


  • (account of goods): account, invoice
  • (written or printed advertisement posted or otherwise distributed): broadsheet, broadside, card,circular, flier, flyer, handbill, poster, posting, placard, notice, throwaway
  • (draft of a law): measure
  • (writing binding the signer or signers to pay a certain sum at a future day): bank bill, banker's bill, bank note, banknote, Federal Reserve note, government note, greenback, note


to bill (third-person singular simple present bills, present participle billing, simple past and past participle billed)

  1. (transitive) To advertise by a bill or public notice.
  2. (transitive) To charge; to send a bill to.


  • (to advertise by a bill): placard
  • (to charge): charge

Further reading

Bill (proposed law)

Bill is a term used to describe proposed laws as they pass through the legislature in the American and Westminster systems of government.


A Bill refers to a proposed law as it is considered by the legislature. A Bill does not become law until it is passed by the legislature and, in most cases, approved by the executive.

Introduction of Bill

A Bill is introduced by a member of the legislature. This takes a variety of forms.

In the British/Westminster system, where the executive is drawn from the legislature and usually holds a majority in the lower house, most Bills are introduced by the executive. In principle, the legislature meets to consider the demands of the executive, as set out in the Queen's Speech or Speech from the Throne. While mechanisms exist to allow other members of the legislature to introduce Bills, these are subject to strict timetables and usually fail unless a consensus is reached.

In the US system, where the executive is formally separated from the legislature, all Bills must originate from the legislature.


  1. Wiktionary. Published under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.


1.     lex fori
2.     landed property
3.     lex situs
4.     respondent
5.     default judgment
6.     tort law
7.     living will
8.     lex causae
9.     law
10.     salacious