My post on defamacasts and graffitism reminded me of bottomry -- not nearly as uncommon a legal term (150,000+ Google hits reported), but still one that I expect many people don't know.

Hannibal Lector:
I was disappointed to discover that a spanker isn't involved.
4.14.2009 2:36pm
Wasn't bottomry legalized by Lawrence v. Texas?
4.14.2009 2:40pm
Anderson (mail):
Bottomry: betting your ass.
4.14.2009 2:58pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):

Try again....

Bottomry: Betting your assets.
4.14.2009 3:06pm
A Law Dawg:
And here I thought it referred to magical transformation into an ass.
4.14.2009 3:07pm
Anderson (mail):
Einhverfr: same difference.

Law Dawg: I think that is actually what happens to the creditor after the ship sinks.
4.14.2009 3:11pm
Proctor John (mail):
Well those in the admiralty bar do. And respondentia bonds too!
4.14.2009 3:12pm
innocent bystander (mail):
Per the actual definition and the punupopia of possibilities, it seems our economic ship of state entered bottomry a while back.
4.14.2009 3:14pm
ChrisIowa (mail):

Wasn't bottomry legalized by Lawrence v. Texas?

I thought that was affrontery.
4.14.2009 3:18pm
Doug Sundseth (mail):
Hannibal Lector: "I was disappointed to discover that a spanker isn't involved."

Where did you get that impression? A spanker might indeed be involved.

What? Did you mean something else?
4.14.2009 3:42pm
Hmm. Reminds me of my recent use of the term "vigorish" in a memorandum of law. The judge (an old-school South-Boston type) absolutely flipped out and castigated me in open court.
4.14.2009 4:32pm
R Gould-Saltman (mail):

Must have been a REALLY stodgy judicial officer; while it's slang or jargon, "vigorish" has a specific meaning not exactly conveyed by anything else, and would seem to be within the "argot" whose demise was lamented by the late Bob Gardner in the footnote in People v. Benton:

FN1 It is a sad commentary on contemporary culture to compare "Don't say a word, don't say a mother-fucking word" with "Stand and deliver," the famous salutation of Dick Turpin and other early English highwaymen. It is true that both salutations lead to robbery. However, there is a certain rich style to "Stand and deliver." On the other hand, "Don't say a word, don't say a mother-fucking word" conveys only dismal vulgarity.

The speech of the contemporary criminal culture has always been a rich source of color and vitality to any language. Yet, when one compares the "bawds," "strumpets," "trulls," "cut-purses," "knaves," and "rascals" of Fielding and Smollett to the "hookers," "pimps," "Narcs," "junkies," and "snitches" of today's criminal argot, one wonders just which direction we are traveling civilization's ladder. "Hooker," at least, has traceable historical antecedents--although the descendants of General "Fighting Joe" Hooker would probably prefer that their famous ancestor be remembered for something other than his army's camp followers--such as the slaughter at Chancellorsville.

r gould-saltman
4.14.2009 4:47pm
ronnie dobbs (mail):
Bottomry? For a second there, I thought I was reading The Daily Dish...
4.14.2009 5:57pm
Smokey Behr:
Now that my vocabulary has been enriched by another word, I have no occasion to use it. I can see its common use in Admiralty law, though. It's similar to using the equity in a home to perform repairs on it, and if a natural disaster happens to the home, that the debtor is out his investment.

In first blush, though, I did think that it had a rather naughty connotation.
4.14.2009 6:18pm

"Hooker," at least, has traceable historical antecedents—although the descendants of General "Fighting Joe" Hooker would probably prefer that their famous ancestor be remembered for something other than his army's camp followers—such as the slaughter at Chancellorsville.

That etymology is completely wrong.
4.15.2009 11:56am
Eugene Volokh (www):
AJK is right; As I noted last Fall, the Oxford English Dictionary recalls that the word "hooker" as meaning "prostitute" appears in 1845. It's possible that the term "hooker" was popularized in part by the Hooker story -- I don't know whether this is so -- but it certainly wasn't created as a result of Hooker's actions.
4.15.2009 2:15pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
"So, who put their spanker up for bottomry?"

Can I get that on a tee-shirt? Would it be obscene in any jurisdictions? Or just harmless affrontery?
4.16.2009 12:10am
Rich Rostrom (mail):
I thought the question was relative use in legal discourse and common discourse. How does the number of Google hits address this? Many Google-indexed web pages <i>are</i> legal documents.
4.16.2009 1:45am

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