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 Doublet Equivalent
all and sundry everybody
armed and dangerous armed
assault and battery assault
breaking and entering break into
care and attention care
cease and desist stop
covenant and agree agree
deem and consider consider
due and payable to be paid
fit and proper decent
Give and grant grant
goods and chattels goods
have and hold (no alternative)
heirs and successors heirs
Keep and maintain (no alternative)
law and order (no alternative)
legal and valid (no alternative)
null and void void
over and above more than usual
part and parcel part of
perform and discharge to do
signed and sealed signed
sole and exclusive exclusive rights
terms and conditions terms
will and testament will

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 Triplet Equivalent
arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable unreasonable
cancel, annul and set aside cancel
convey, transfer and set over transfer
give, devise and bequeath bequeath
grant, bargain, and sell (no alternative)
name, constitute and appoint appoint
null, void and of no effect void
ordered, adjudged and decreed ordered
rest, residue and remainder remainder
right, title and interest (no alternative)
signed, sealed, and delivered exchanged
way, shape or form form

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

Legal English for Notaries - By Federnotizie

Legal English – Sommario delle Lezioni

Legal English: Peter’s Pills – Lesson 6 – Legal Doublets ultima modifica: 2021-03-31T08:30:44+02:00 da Peter Liebenberg
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