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Legal Word That's Most Uncommon in Ordinary Language:

My favorite is still defamacast, with only 289 Google hits reported (though the reported number becomes only 60 if one actually pages through the results). The word isn't that common in law, either — it's just a Georgia term — but what I like about it is that it purports to be just a normal English word, albeit one coined by Georgia courts. It's not some Latin phrase, or all-caps statutory abbreviation or agency identifiers, or some such. It looks like a word, but a highly uncommon one.

I just came across another such example, which might be even more interesting, since I'm not sure that it's a self-conscious coinage (the way "defamacast" surely was): "Graffitism," defined in the Columbus (Ohio) City Code as basically the act of writing graffiti. It's at 1020 Google hits reported, though the number becomes only 189 if one actually pages through the results; and, as with "defamacast," many of the results aren't even substantive uses of the term.

Any other examples? Again, they have to be words that are used as ordinary English words would be — not Latin, not proper nouns, not all-caps, or the like. And, to give a convenient if arbitrary cutoff, they shouldn't yield more than 10,000 Google hits initially reported. (Just by way of a benchmark, "burglariously" yields over 30,000 Google hits initially reported.)

UPDATE: I originally said "term," but I've now corrected this to "word" -- I'd like to focus on individual words, rather than phrases.

Houston Lawyer:
"jactitation of title" with 6 hits.
4.13.2009 4:43pm
Ari (mail) (www):
Jeopardization.
4.13.2009 4:55pm
Barrister's Handshake (mail) (www):
Ha, Houston Lawyer, now it's 7. Google indexed you.
4.13.2009 5:02pm
Ari (mail) (www):
@Houston Lawyer

"jactitation" alone returns 45,500 hits.
4.13.2009 5:02pm
Houston Lawyer:
I somehow learned the term as slander of title. Most of the cites to it refer to a false boast of marriage. I was not aware of that use.
4.13.2009 5:12pm
wooga:
Has to purport to be an ordinary English word? How about Old English words that are in Black's dictionary? I got a nice one with only 7 hits, which is the term for an outlaw who, if you can't catch him alive, you are allowed to decapitate and bring back just his head.
4.13.2009 5:48pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
"Champertry" only has 43 hits.
4.13.2009 6:21pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Correction, it has 294 on google. It has 43 on yahoo.
4.13.2009 6:21pm
Dave3L (mail) (www):
Ah, but "champerty" has over 79,000.
4.13.2009 6:30pm
JRL:
wooga: what is it? The suspense is killing me and I can't thumb through my Black's fast enough.
4.13.2009 6:33pm
Lior:
Surely "Google hits" include uses in legal language, not only in ordinary language -- so there may be terms with many google hits, all but a few of them in the texts of legal rulings, law review articles and the like.
4.13.2009 6:36pm
Antinome (mail) (www):
While it probably does not completely qualify because it is derived from a case name and is specific to Texas only, but stowerize gets 46(39) hits.
4.13.2009 6:44pm
NLC:
Deseutude.
4.13.2009 6:45pm
Spartacus (www):
I believe Stowerize should be capitalized (due to the case-name origin).
4.13.2009 6:55pm
m:
NLC:
Misspelling. Check "desuetude." 93,800 on google.
4.13.2009 7:10pm
Michelle Dulak Thomson (mail):
I had hopes for "barrator," but even that has 17K+ Google hits. Curse you, Dante Alighieri! (Well, no, actually — were it not for Dante I'd never have encountered the word myself...)
4.13.2009 8:08pm
krs:
some of the commenters are apparently discovering that misspellings of obscure words are really obscure.

what inspired the post? does EV have a bet with Bruce Selya?
4.13.2009 8:35pm
Anthony B. Sanders (mail):
Although it gets slightly over 11,000 hits (probably less if I paged through them all) "owelty" gets my vote: the payment from one party to another when they are trying to split their land equally, often through an action at equity.

Also, perhaps a better statistic on how common a legal word's use is: a search of "owelty" in Lexis' "federal and state courts" gets 551 hits. EV's defamacast only gets 26, and graffitism gets a fat goose egg.
4.13.2009 10:12pm
Betty1:
"basorexia" came up with 427 hits on google initially.
4.14.2009 12:55am
Betty1:
:) I didn't read the assignment properly. Legal terms.
4.14.2009 1:01am
Fedya (www):
729 hits for "senatress". The more Latin "senatrix" gets ~6800 hits.

Granted, it's less a courtroom word and more a political one.
4.14.2009 9:36am

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