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The VLW Quick 10: Words that don’t say what they mean

These 10 legal words or phrases sound like they would mean one thing, but they actually mean another.

1. Tortfeasor.
Sounds like it would mean: Name of an ’80s big-hair metal band.
As in: Anthrax…Ratt…Dokken…Slayer…Survivor…Tortfeasor.
Really means: The bad guy in a p.i. suit, wrongdoer.

2. Perpetuities.
Sounds like it would mean: A body part.
As in: “He’s been having a little problem with his perpetuity gland.”
Really means: Lasting forever. See, i.e., the Rule Against Perpetuities.

3. Garnishee.
Sounds like it would mean: Parsley-like.
As in: “This plateful looks really plain. It needs something garnishee.”
Really means: The guy whose money you’re taking.

4. Craving oyer.
Sounds like it would mean: A hankering for seafood.
As in: “Whenever I go to the beach, I find myself craving oyer, or maybe some crab.”
Really means: Asking the court to do something.

5. Livery of seisin.
Sounds like it would mean: Something to do with spring, summer etc. Or something you’d hear on “Top Chef.”
As in: “Your dish lacks a little livery of seisining.”
Really means: Delivery of possession of property.

6. Jus Tertii.
Sounds like it would mean: Bad-tasting, but healthy, beverage
As in: “After our workout, let’s go to the health food store and get a jus tertii.”
Really means: The right of a third party.

7. Demurrer.
Sounds like it would mean: More demure, having more demureness.
As in: “I found Elizabeth to be demurrer than Colleen.”
Really means: Legal pleading to test the sufficiency of a claim.

8. Eleemosynary.
Sounds like it would mean: Kind of slimy.
As in: Something to do with eels or snails. Okay, maybe you wouldn’t use it in a sentence …it just sounds slimy
Really means: Charitable.

9. Barratry.
Sounds like it would mean: The thing that provides the juice to start your vehicle. Or maybe the companion of “assault.”
As in: “My car needs a new barratry.”
Really means: An admiralty term, a fraud committed in breach of the duty to a vessel’s owner.

10. Sua sponte.
Sounds like it would mean: One of those sparkling wines from Italy.
As in: “At their reception, Doug and Denise served wedding cake and asti sua sponte.”
Really means: Action by a judge taken on his or her own motion.

By Paul Fletcher

One comment

  1. Ok, that is really funny. Thanks for brightening the day.

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