1620s, "systematic knowledge of law," from French jurisprudence (17c.) and directly from Late Latin iurisprudentia "the science of law," from iuris "of right, of law" (genitive of ius; see jurist) + prudentia "knowledge, a foreseeing" (see prudence). Meaning "the philosophy of law" is first attested 1756. Related: Jurisprudent; jurisprudential.
updated on February 19, 2016