Legal Words

Legal Words

Doubling legal Words (Doublets and Triplets)

Doubling legal words that mean the same thing can be confusing. The doubling often involved the pairing of a with another, synonim, word. Good examples of legal word-doubling (and tripling) are found on pages 346 to 366 of “The Language of the Law” by David Mellinkoff (Boston, Mass., Little, Brown & Co., 1963).

Some of the doublets are:

  • Aid and abet
  • By and between
  • Cease and desist
  • Covenant and agree
  • Deem and consider
  • Due and payable
  • Fit and proper
  • Mind and memory
  • Force and effect
  • Name and style
  • Null and void
  • Have and hold
  • Over and above
  • Known and distinguished as
  • Final and conclusive
  • Full faith and credit
  • Last will and testament
  • Written instrument
  • Part and parcel
  • Perform and discharge
  • Power and authority

Some of the Triplets are:

  • Give, devise, and bequeath
  • Rest, residue, and remainder
  • Cancel, annul and set aside
  • Name, constitute and appoint
  • Right, title and interest

If the use of two similar words adds an important shade of meaning, it is advisable the use of them with care.

Many legal writers are of the opinion that these doublets should be eliminated altogether, as they are, in most cases, unnecessarily superfluous, clutter and/or redundant. Nevertheless, it is important, in some cases, to be able to recognise such doublets for the purposes of interpretation.

Household Words

“I have had the misfortune to have a sum of money left to me by a will which has been drawn by an illogical (for I won’t say roguish) lawyer; who has inserted a parenthesis in the most inconsiderate manner, in the very heart of the most important paragraph, totally at variance with the context, and only calculated to create heart-burnings and fees. The bequest is made to three families: and the only matter in dispute is, whether one of the third shares should be divided. I wished the Lord Chancellor, or one of the Vice Chancellors, as an authority on the subject, to give me his reading of the passage in question, and the consequence is that I am driven to the verge of insanity. Without there being the slightest question as to pedigree involved in the matter, I am required to produce somebody who knew my grandmother before her marriage seventy years ago; who knew when she was married, and where she was married, and whom she married; and who must swear in the most determined and awful manner that she had four children, and no more and no less, and so on, and so on.

Of course there are writings produced, and marked with all the letters in the alphabet, from A to Z inclusive, attached to this swearing, which would have perplexed the Sphinx, and which are calculated to cause octogenarian witnesses to cast their spectacles into the dust in despair. Of course there is the difficulty of persuading anybody of eighty that mere signing his or her name to an affidavit and kissing the New Testament at two and sixpence a time, is such a harmless and common proceeding as the Court of Chancery insists it is.

Household Words, April, 1856.



See Also

About the Author/s and Rewiever/s

Author: international

References and Further Reading

  • Legal Language, Peter M. Tiersma (2000)
  • A Dictionary of Modern Legal Usage, Bryan A. Garner (2001)
  • “The Language of the Law” by David Mellinkoff (Boston, Mass., Little, Brown & Co., 1963)
  • Contract Drafting: Powerful Prose in Transactional Practice. ABA Fundamentals. Chicago: American Bar Association. pp. 164-165

About the Author/s and Reviewer/s

Author: international



, ,




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *