Noscitur A Sociis means “it is known by its associates”
The meaning of ambiguous words should be determined by considering the words it is associated with.
This bridge is off-limits to motorcycles, cars, buses and lorries.
motorcycles, buses and lorries suggest that the bridge is off-limits to vehicles that have motorised engines.
If a statute is amended to this…
This bridge is off-limits to bicycles, motorcycles, cars, buses and lorries.
In today’s context, some bicycles are motorised. Using noscitur a sociis, we can determine bicycles to mean motorised bicycles.
Consider section 10(5) of the Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order and Nuisance) Act
(5) The occupier of any house or premises where any dog was kept or permitted to live or remain at the time of causing any such injury as is referred to in subsection (1) shall be deemed to be the owner of the dog and shall be liable as such unless the occupier can prove that —
(a) he was not the owner of the dog at the time the injury complained of was committed; and
(b) the dog was kept or permitted to live or remain in the house or premises without his sanction or knowledge.
Using noscitur a sociis, we can interpret the word “remain” as remaining for a long period of time or as having some permanent nature to it. This is done by looking at the word live to interpret the statute.