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Etymology of 5 Common Legal Terms

By George Khoury, Esq. on June 06, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Over the past several weeks, we've published weekly blog posts delving into the etymology of some widely used legal terms. The feedback has been fantastic, and if there are other legal terms you'd like us to research and write about, feel free to let us know on Twitter or Facebook.

And just in case you may have missed one of the prior installments in this series, you can easily catch up as we've compiled the first five below.

Certiorari, a.k.a. Cert

While pronouncing this term in a crowded room is almost every lawyer's worst fear, learning a little about the word's history certainly makes this tongue twister that much more meaningful. Fun-fact: SCOTUS justices pronounce it differently.


You may be surprised that the word objection has an origin that seems to perfectly fit the feeling a litigator gets when exclaiming the term. Read this and you might start seeing your objections as projectiles.


The term appeal, and the derived terms appellant and appellee, taken together tell an interesting history of how the modern term came to be applied. One might say, it's an appealing story.


There are few legal words as fun to say as quash. After all, it's pretty close to squash, both in the way we say it, and at its humble roots. It's no surprise that litigators try to squeeze this term in whenever possible.


Like quash, moot is another one of those fun to say legal words, especially when rhymed with a certain type of footwear. The word also has a curious origin dating back to the 1500s, when it was used in a completely different way than we use it today. It's unlikely a group's going to debate that point.

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