What are the similarities and differences? http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/construct has fewer entries than http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/construction, but many of them are alike? Can construction be used below, for example?

Source: p 39, The English Legal System 2012-2013, Gary Slapper

... The classic account given by Dicey of the doctrine of the supremacy of Parliament, pure and absolute as it was, can now be seen to be out of place in the modern United Kingdom. Nevertheless, the supremacy of Parliament is still the general principle of our constitution. It is a construct of the common law. The judges created this principle. If that is so, it is not unthinkable that circumstances could arise where the courts may have to qualify a principle established on a different hypothesis of constitutionalism.

2 Answers 2


Construction would not be used here because in legal contexts the construction of a law usually means the interpretation of a law (sense 2.1 in your link, a sense associated not with the ordinary modern sense of construct but with the cognate verb construe) and to use construction would lead readers to expect that sense.


The noun "construct" refers to the result of making something. It is similar to the noun "work". So the following things might be "constructs":

  • A tower.
  • A bridge.
  • A written constitution.
  • The English Constitution (or lack thereof).
  • A code of laws.
  • A theory of morals.

The noun "construction" refers to the process of making something. Like most "-ion" nouns, it is similar to a gerund. So "construction" could refer to any of the following processes:

  • Building a tower or a bridge.
  • The "sausage-making" of (re-)writing laws.
  • One's thinking and writing as one develops a theory of morals.

StoneyB is correct that the legal meaning of "construction" is "a particular interpretation", and derives from "construing", not "constructing".

  • "Construction" does, as you say, generally refer to the process of building or making something; but it can also refer to the way it has been built, as in "those buildings have similar constructions," and it can also mean the structure of something, as in "the construction of that building is very complex." The third of these meanings is very similar to that of construct, so I'm not sure myself when you could not use construction instead of construct, other that in the strict legal example given by @StoneyB.
    – user34501
    May 22, 2016 at 15:35

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