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Etymology of Great Legal Words: Objection!

By George Khoury, Esq. | Last updated on

Few legal words are quoted as often as, nor as loudly as, the term "objection." It is easily the best legal term to physically exclaim while simultaneously standing up and slamming your hand, a yellow-pad, or both hands, on the table ... never done that? I recommend it. Right now. It doesn't matter if there's no one else in the room, it's still fun (arguably more).

And in the courtroom, at deposition, and even on paper, using the word is not only important, it's amusing. It immediately denotes a disagreement or obstacle that must be dealt with before moving forward or on appeal, and as a lawyer, if you don't enjoy that, well ... you probably don't like your work. The word itself, at its roots, is just as fascinating, which, curiously, may explain why so many lawyers just love to object, and all have their own style of doing so.

To Throw - Against ...

The word dates back to 1350-ish. Latin roots of the word are simple. Objection comes from object, which is coarsely split as ob- and -ject. Ob- means against. -Ject means throw. Thus, coarsely, to object means to throw against.

There's inherently something fun about the act of throwing something, whether a ball or argument. When you object you're throwing your argument about form, procedure, evidence, or what-have-you, against the judge.

Further reading on the word's root show that it can also be traced to the Old French term objeccion, which means to retort or reply. In Late Latin, the term obiectionem roughly translates to throwing or putting before.

... And See What Sticks?

Knowing that the term is also rooted in Old French may provide some rationale behind why the term is simply so much fun to utter. Je ne se quash, right? French just rolls off the tongue.

Think about it, every attorney has their own method of, or style for, objecting. The consensus is that your tone for objecting should be forceful and confident, though there may be times, such as during a long trial, where you might want to take it easy on the theatrics and forcefulness. 

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