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Today's Word



Jun 26, 2017
This week’s theme
Terms from law

This week’s words
pro se

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with Anu Garg

Oxford has made available their dictionary data via an API (i.e. programmatically). Thank you, Oxford! As I was playing with it, I decided to check out their terms and conditions (permalink). This jumped out at me:

Except for death or personal injury caused by our negligence or for fraud, we ... will not be liable to you.

I can’t imagine what a dictionary publisher might do that could cause death or injury, but you never know. The lawyers must have thought of it. Perhaps they fear someone coming back at them with, “You said the word ‘fact’ means ‘A thing that is known or proved to be true’ and I took the facts given by my president as true and that resulted in ...”

Maybe a prosecutor could claim that the dictionary publisher was negligent because they didn’t differentiate between ‘facts’ and ‘alternative facts’.

These times are different -- anything is possible.

I dream of a world in which there are no terms and conditions, no small print, and no legalese. And no need for warnings, as on this pack of walnuts: Contains nuts. (I sure hope it does).

Why can’t we all go by the golden rule? Instead of pages and pages of text filled with dense jargon, imagine just one line:

Neither of us would do anything we wouldn’t like if we switched places.

That’s it. It works. Corporations, give it a try! I know what some readers are thinking. What about all those lawyers? They will be out of a job. Well, inside each lawyer there’s a poet or an actor or a writer or a painter or a sculptor or a playwright or a singer squirming to come out. Let it.

And until the day comes when we all live by the golden rule, prepare yourself by being aware of this week’s terms from the world of law.

By reading any further you agree that you are bound by the rule and/or rules set forth by the legal department of Wordsmith.org. Our rule(s) thus far: Be kind to everyone.



verb tr.:
1. To call or bring a defendant before a court to hear and answer a criminal charge.
2. To criticize, accuse, or censure.

From Old French araisnier, from Latin rationare (to talk, to reason), from ratio (reason, calculation). Ultimately from the Indo-European root ar- (to fit together), which also gave us army, harmony, article, order, read, adorn, arithmetic, rhyme, and ratiocinate. Earliest documented use: 1360.

“He was arrested, arraigned, and convicted.”
Adam Gopnik; Mindless; The New Yorker; Sep 9, 2013.

See more usage examples of arraign in Vocabulary.com’s dictionary.

Our society must make it right and possible for old people not to fear the young or be deserted by them, for the test of a civilization is the way that it cares for its helpless members. -Pearl S. Buck, Nobelist novelist (26 Jun 1892-1973)

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