Legal English: Peter’s Pills – Lesson 6 – Legal Doublets

Legal English for Notaries - By Federnotizie

Legal Doublets



Modern English words derive from many different languages. English as we know it today consists of approximately 29% of words which originate from Latin, 29% of French words, 26% of Germanic and Anglo-Saxon words, and about 16% of words from other languages.

This means that today we have many different synonyms in English of different origins. An example of this could be “freedom” and “liberty” where freedom comes from the German “freiheit” and liberty comes from the French “liberté”. We also have two words like “brotherhood” and “fraternity” which mean exactly the same thing with brotherhood coming form the German “bruderschaft” and fraternity coming from the French “fraternité”.

This phenomenon is even more evident in Legal English. In Legal English we have what we call Legal Doublets.

Now, a Legal Doublet is a standardized phrase frequently used in Legal English consisting of two or more words that are near synonyms (sinonimi quasi del tutto simili), usually connected by the word “and”. There are two important things for you to know. First of all, Legal Doublets keep the same order, so we say “null and void”. We don’t say “void and null” (come dire: “due e tutti” anziché “tutti e due”), and very often we have a one word equivalent for a Legal Doublet, so “null and void” could become “void”.

Very commonly used Legal Doublets that we use today in English are:

Legal DoubletEquivalent
all and sundryeverybody
armed and dangerousarmed
assault and batteryassault
breaking and enteringbreak into
care and attentioncare
cease and desiststop
covenant and agreeagree
deem and considerconsider
due and payableto be paid
fit and properdecent
Give and grantgrant
goods and chattelsgoods
have and hold(no alternative)
heirs and successorsheirs
Keep and maintain(no alternative)
law and order(no alternative)
legal and valid(no alternative)
null and voidvoid
over and abovemore than usual
part and parcelpart of
perform and dischargeto do
signed and sealedsigned
sole and exclusiveexclusive rights
terms and conditionsterms
will and testamentwill

To make our lives even more interesting, we also have what we call Legal Triplets. Commonly used Legal Triplets that we see in English today still include:

Legal TripletEquivalent
arbitrary, capricious and unreasonableunreasonable
cancel, annul and set asidecancel
convey, transfer and set overtransfer
give, devise and bequeathbequeath
grant, bargain, and sell(no alternative)
name, constitute and appointappoint
null, void and of no effectvoid
ordered, adjudged and decreedordered
rest, residue and remainderremainder
right, title and interest(no alternative)
signed, sealed, and deliveredexchanged
way, shape or formform

Thank you for joining me and I hope to see you next week for more Peter’s Pills to improve your Legal English.

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