7 words and phrases only lawyers understand

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20th Century Fox

Every job has its own unique vocabulary

Legal professions are no exception – in fact, lawyers might use more confusing words and phrases than people in any other field.

From “upstanding” to “wobbler,” we compiled examples of terms that make sense to lawyers, but make outsiders scratch their heads.

Read on to get a glimpse into a lawyer’s lexicon:


Wobbler

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YouTube/SpB2Studios

The word “wobbler” might make you think of someone doing the popular line dance at a wedding. In legal contexts, a wobbler is a case that teeters on the edge of being a crime and a misdemeanor.


Recess

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ABC

For most people, recess conjures memories of playing outside in between classes in elementary school. In the legal world, recess refers to a break in a trial or court proceeding.


Tort

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Wikimedia Commons

Tort doesn’t refer to a cake made with ground nuts or breadcrumbs and topped with rich frosting – that’s a torte.

Tort is any kind of wrongful act that harms someone else and for which you can be sued for damages.


Upstanding

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Universal Pictures

If someone’s an upstanding citizen, they’re honorable and respectable. However, in British law, the phrase “be upstanding” is an audience’s cue to rise when the judge enters the room.


‘Religion loves SEX’

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Win McNamee/Getty Images

This racy phrase is simply a mnemonic some aspiring lawyers use when studying for the bar.

Laws respecting religion are valid if:

• they serve a secular purpose

• their effect neither advances nor inhibits religion

• and they don’t result in “excessive government entanglement” with religion


Therefor

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Shutterstock

No, this isn’t a misspelled version of “therefore.” Without the final e, “therefor” is a fancy way to say “for this” or “for that.” Legal Shield gives us the example sentence, “She accepted the delivery and provided payment therefor.”

If it seems like a clunky and unnecessary word, that’s because it probably is. Legal Shield says you’ll rarely see it outside of legal contracts.


Administratrix, executrix, prosecutrix, and testatrix

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Shutterstock

Fluent speakers of legalese often throw around these unusual feminine forms for common words like administrator or prosecutor.

But you’re better off avoiding using these words altogether. As legalwriting.net wrote, “Kill them off now. They’re sexist, archaic, and hard to pronounce.”