Wordsmith.org: the magic of words


A.Word.A.Day

About Us | What's New | Search | Site Map | Contact Us  


Home

Today's Word

Yesterday's Word

Archives

FAQ



Aug 7, 2014
This week's theme
Interesting usage examples

This week's words
stalagmite
stroppy
pettifogger
Philadelphia lawyer
bailiwick

Andrew Hamilton's grave marker: Philadelphia lawyer
Andrew Hamilton's grave marker
Photo: Art Moore

Bookmark and Share Facebook Twitter Digg MySpace Bookmark and Share
A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

Philadelphia lawyer

PRONUNCIATION:
((fil-uh-DEL-fee-uh LOI-yuhr)

MEANING:
noun: A shrewd lawyer, one who is adept at exploiting legal technicalities.

ETYMOLOGY:
The term is said to have been inspired by Philadelphia-based Andrew Hamilton's successful defense of the New York printer John Peter Zenger from libel charges. This decision helped establish the idea that truth is a defense in a libel accusation and affirmed the freedom of the press in America. Though the incident took place in 1735, the earliest documented use unearthed so far is from 1788.

USAGE:
"Then Willie Lee nailed me those many years ago. With a woman's way she said to Bob, 'Bob, this man's been here three days and he's complimented my cooking more than you have in thirty years of marriage.'
"A death pall lay over the burdened table. Willie Lee had pierced both of us with two horns of the same bull. I gulped and floundered -- helpless to assist my wounded friend -- but Bob never missed a spoonful as he said, 'I've been too busy eatin'.'
"No Philadelphia lawyer ever saved (himself and) the condemned with so few words, so coolly and ably stated. I was in Bob's debt and learned that moment to keep my compliments to a peck and not a bushel."
Bill Tarrant; Hunting the Russian Boar; Field & Stream (Los Angeles); Apr 1998.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
No amount of belief makes something a fact. -James Randi, magician and skeptic (b. 1928)

A.Word.A.Day by email:

Subscribe

"The most welcomed, most enduring piece of daily mass e-mail in cyberspace."

The New York Times

Sponsored by:

Give the Gift of Words

Share the magic of words. Send a gift subscription of A.Word.A.Day.

Anu on Words:
Writer Magazine
Globe & Mail

Interact:

Bulletin board
Wordsmith Talk

Moderated Chat
Wordsmith Chat

Readers' Voice
AWADmail

Subscriber Services
Awards | Stats | Links | Privacy Policy
Contribute | Advertise

© 1994-2017 Wordsmith