LAWYERS have long boasted of the flexibility of the common law, of its ability to adapt itself to the needs of changing conditions of society, of its responsiveness to sociological progress. And while eager reformers have often-and with much reason complained that the law is laggard in its response to the needs of the people, yet it is clear that sooner or later the courts generally bring themselves into accord with "what is sanctioned by usage, or held by the prevailing morality or strong and preponderant public 'opinion to be greatly and immediately necessary to the public welfare." This responsiveness to the needs of society, this adaptability to changing demands, necessarily results in a change in the meaning and content of legal words and phrases. It is clear that a word, meaning one certain definite thing in the fourteenth century, will mean much more in the twentieth century. To quote again from Mr. Justice Holmes, "A word is not a crystal, transparent and unchanged, it is the skin of a living thought and may vary greatly in color and content according to the circumstances and the time in which it is used." There are of course numerous instances of such change in the meaning of technical legal terms. It is the purpose of this paper to trace the change in the meaning and content of the term "consortium"; a term which has been variously defined, but which, in general terms, includes the right of one spouse to the conjugal fellowship of the other, to the other's company, cooperation and aid in the conjugal relation.
Holbrook, Evans. "Change in the Meaning of Consortium." Mich. L. Rev. 22 (1923): 1-9.