Much of law relies on evidence. What a court treats as evidence is a function of its theory of historical meaning. In this paper I outline a theory of historical meaning, which I call sociological intentionalism, and I explain how we must conceptualize evidence in a legal setting. The link between a theory of meaning tout court and a theory of legal evidence is a process that I call stylization. Law stylizes meanings in order to conform with certain facts about its legal subjects and the legal officials populating its offices. Through this process law moves from a theory of general meaning to a theory of evidentiary meaning. It follows that any argument about this or that type of evidence used in legal proceedings must ultimately make reference to the either legal subjects or legal officials. I trace examples of such shifts. I conclude by making explicit the way in which my vision of legal evidence differs from traditional accounts.
Legal Dictionary

Main Entry: ev·i·dence
Pronunciation: 'e-v&-d&ns, -"dens
Function: noun
Etymology: Medieval Latin evidentia , from Latin, that which is obvious, from evident - evidens  clear, obvious, from e - out of, from + videns , present participle of videre  to see
:  something that furnishes or tends to furnish proof; especially :  something (as testimony, writings, or objects) presented at a judicial or administrative proceeding for the purpose of establishing the truth or falsity of an alleged matter of fact —see also ADMISSIBLE, BEST EVIDENCE RULE, EXCLUSIONARY RULE, EXHIBIT, FOUNDATION, OBJECTION,, PREPONDERANCE OF THE EVIDENCE, RELEVANT, SCINTILLA, STATE'S EVIDENCE, SUPPRESS, TESTIMONY, WITNESS Federal Rules of Evidence  in the IMPORTANT LAWS section —compare ALLEGATION, ARGUMENT, PROOF
best evidence
:  evidence that is the most reliable and most direct in relationship to what it is offered to prove —see also BEST EVIDENCE RULE
char·ac·ter evidence
:  evidence of a particular human trait (as honesty or peacefulness) of a party or witness —see also character witness  at WITNESS
NOTE: Under the Federal Rules of Evidence, character evidence generally may not be used to prove that a person acted in accordance with that character. It is admissible for that purpose, however, if a criminal defendant offers it about himself or herself or about the victim, or if the prosecution offers evidence to rebut the defendant's evidence in either of those circumstances. The prosecution may also rebut a claim of self-defense by presenting evidence of the peaceful character of the victim. Additionally, the character of a witness with regard to truthfulness may be attacked or supported by opinion or by evidence of reputation.
circumstantial evidence
:  evidence that tends to prove a factual matter by proving other events or circumstances from which the occurrence of the matter at issue can be reasonably inferred —compare DIRECT EVIDENCE in this entry
clear and convincing evidence
:  evidence showing a high probability of truth of the factual matter at issue —compare PREPONDERANCE OF THE EVIDENCE, REASONABLE DOUBT
com·mu·ni·ca·tive evidence
/k&-'myü-n&-k&-tiv-, -"kA-tiv-/
competent evidence
:  evidence that is admissible, relevant, and material to the factual matter at issue
corroborating evidence
:  evidence that is independent of and different from but that supplements and strengthens evidence already presented as proof of a factual matter called also corroborative evidence  —compare CUMULATIVE EVIDENCE in this entry
cumulative evidence
:  evidence that is of the same kind as evidence already offered as proof of the same factual matter —compare CORROBORATING EVIDENCE in this entry
de·mon·stra·tive evidence
:  evidence in the form of objects (as maps, diagrams, or models) that has in itself no probative value but is used to illustrate and clarify the factual matter at issue;