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vocabulary
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100 Words Encountered in

Law

Other Interests
accord
as in:
according to, or in accord with
She will get a fair trial in accordance with the law.
accordance = keeping with; or agreement with
DefinitionGenerally this sense of accord means:
in keeping with; or in agreement/harmony/unity with
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sufficient
We have sufficient supplies.
sufficient = adequate (enough — often without being more than is needed)
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criteria
We're considering five primary criteria as we compare job applicants.
criteria = reference points against which things can be evaluated
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dispute
2 meanings
as in:
their border dispute
The area has long been a source of dispute between India and Pakistan.
dispute = disagreement
DefinitionGenerally this sense of dispute means:
disagreement, argument, or conflict
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as in:
She disputes his claim.
She disputes her landlord's claim that the music was that loud.
disputes = challenges
DefinitionGenerally this sense of dispute means:
challenge, argue about, or fight over
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et al.
the data reported by Smith et al.
et al. = abbreviation meaning "and others"
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cite
as in:
cited from the President's speech
She cited Polonius' advice to his son from Shakespeare's Hamlet: "Give every man thine ear, but few thy voice."
cited = quoted (to make a point)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of cite means:
to quote someone (to make a point)
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subsequent
Her guess was proven right by subsequent developments.
subsequent = following
DefinitionGenerally subsequent means:
following something else
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deed
After the divorce, she moved out of the house and since her name wasn't on the deed, she mistakenly thought the mortgage no longer concerned her.
deed = a legal document indicating ownership of property
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contract
as in:
legal contract
She signed the contract.
contract = a written agreement that is enforceable by law
DefinitionGenerally this sense of contract means:
an agreement - typically written and enforceable by law
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disposition
as in:
disposition of the matter
What was the disposition of the court?
disposition = the decision or action taken when an issue was settled so that it no longer requires attention
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assert
as in:
asserted her opinion that...
The defense also asserts that the defendant has no previous record.
asserts = says (that something is true — especially something disputed)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of assert means:
to say that something is true — especially something disputed
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jurisprudence
It is an important decision in the Supreme Court's affirmative action jurisprudence.
jurisprudence = interpretations of the law
DefinitionGenerally jurisprudence means:
the branch of philosophy concerned with the law

or:

a collection of laws
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jurisdiction
The state court has jurisdiction on this matter — not the federal court.
jurisdiction = the authority to apply the law
DefinitionGenerally jurisdiction means:
the authority to make decisions or apply the law; or the territory subject to such authority
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obligation
She feels that helping him is her obligation.
obligation = duty
DefinitionGenerally obligation means:
a duty
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common law
The United States inherited its common law from Great Britain.
common law = a system of jurisprudence based on judicial precedents rather than statutory laws; (also called "case law")
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criminal law
The burden of proof is greater in criminal law than in civil law.†
criminal law = the body of law dealing with crimes against the state (like burglary) and their punishment as contrasted to civil law in which individuals can sue each other
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civil law
2 meanings

as: contrasted to criminal law
The burden of proof is greater in criminal law than in civil law.
civil law = the body of law governing relationships between individuals not involving the state, such as the fulfillment of contracts
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as: contrasted to common law
Although it's not as nuanced as common law, it is easier to look up rules of civil law.
civil law = law developed by governmental groups in contrast to common law (based on custom and precedent)
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plausible
She offered a plausible excuse.
plausible = apparently reasonable, but unproven
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notwithstanding
Notwithstanding my fear, I want to try parachuting from an airplane.
notwithstanding = in spite of (In this case, my fear does not withstand my desire to try parachuting. My desire is stronger than my fear.) (used to connect contrasting ideas)
DefinitionGenerally notwithstanding means:
in spite of; or in spite of the thing mentioned
(Used to connect contrasting ideas. Other synonyms could include words and phrases such as nevertheless, nonetheless, all the same, still,  and however.)
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accommodate
as in:
Each room can accommodate four
The lab can accommodate up to 30 students at one time.
accommodate = provide (or have the ability to provide) something desired or needed
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affirm
Maria affirmed that she has complete faith in the other members of the team.
affirmed = expressed a firm belief
DefinitionGenerally affirm means:
a firm statement that something is true

or:

expressing emotional support or encouragement for someone
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liabilities
as in:
legal liability
They have legal liability for accidents caused by the defective tires.
liability = a legal obligation or responsibility
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omit
She recounted the whole story except that she omitted names.†
omitted = to exclude or neglect something
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inconsistent
Her play is inconsistent. Sometimes she's unbeatable and other times she beats herself.
inconsistent = not the same at different times
DefinitionGenerally inconsistent means:
not the same in different parts or at different times

or:

not in agreement [with something else]
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allege
She alleged that she was the victim of a crime.
alleged = asserted (said) without proof
DefinitionGenerally allege means:
claim (asserted without proof)
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presumption
as in:
presumption of innocence
I presumed she was an expert since she spoke so confidently.
presumed = assumed
DefinitionGenerally this sense of presumption means:
to think of something as true or likely, even though it is not known with certainty
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testimony
Her emotional testimony moved the jury.
testimony = the statement of a witness at a trial
DefinitionGenerally testimony means:
something that serves as evidence — especially a statement at a trial or hearing
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defendant
The defendant is confident she will be found innocent.
defendant = a person (or institution) legally accused or sued in court
DefinitionGenerally defendant means:
a person or institution legally accused or sued in court
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plaintiff
Court ruled that the plaintiff had suffered from illegal discrimination.†
plaintiff = a person who brings a legal action against another in a court of law
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bylaws
She wants to amend the bylaws to increase the number of board members.†
bylaws = rules and regulations adopted by an organization, corporation or similar entity for its internal administration and management
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render
as in:
rendered service or a verdict
We're waiting for the jury to render a verdict.
render = give
DefinitionGenerally this sense of render means:
to give or supply something
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apparent
The effects of the drought are apparent to anyone who sees the dry fields.
apparent = clear or obvious
DefinitionGenerally apparent means:
clear or obvious; or appearing as such but not necessarily so
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prevail
as in:
reason will prevail
Neither side has the strength to prevail over the other.
prevail = win (prove to be superior)
DefinitionGenerally this sense of prevail means:
prove superior or win
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fraudulent
She stole money by filing a fraudulent insurance claim.
fraudulent = intended to deceive
DefinitionGenerally fraudulent means:
intentional deception — usually for financial gain or ego
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compliant
as in:
compliant with the law
The company was fined for not being regulation 4.3 compliant.
compliant = conforming to rules
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compliance
Our policy is in compliance with the law.
compliance = to conform to rules or the wishes of others
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relevant
It is easier to learn things that seem relevant to your life.
relevant = related in a meaningful way to the issue in question
DefinitionGenerally relevant means:
relating in a meaningful way to the issue in question
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waive
as in:
waive the right
They will waive the foreign language requirement for students who are already bilingual.
waive = not enforce something to which one would otherwise be entitled
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construe
The executive branch does not construe the provision as requiring it to share additional information with Congress.
construe = interpret
DefinitionGenerally construe means:
to interpret something as having a specific meaning
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public law
Criminal law is an area of public law.†
public law = branch of law dealing with the legal relationships between the government and individuals and with the relations among governmental agencies
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private law
The Institute is exploring issues related to codifying a shared European private law.†
private law = branch of law dealing with the legal relationships between individuals such as contracts and torts
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judiciary
The constitution means what the judiciary says it means.
judiciary = the system of law courts that administer justice
DefinitionGenerally judiciary means:
the system of law courts that administer justice; or the people in that system
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convey
as in:
convey her thoughts
Please convey my gratitude for her hospitality.
convey = communicate or express
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brief
as in:
legal brief
The ACLU filed the brief in October.
brief = a summary of important facts — especially an opinion of a legal case
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certiorari
We petitioned the court to issue a writ of certiorari.†
certiorari = an order issued by a superior court to one of inferior jurisdiction demanding the record of a particular case
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testify
She testified against the robber.
testified = provided oral evidence in court
DefinitionGenerally testify means:
provide evidence of something — especially to say something under oath in a court of law
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writ
Her attorney filed for a writ of habeas corpus.
writ = an order issued by a court or judicial officer
DefinitionGenerally writ means:
law:  an order issued by a court or judicial officer

or more rarely:

archaic term for written or wrote
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compel
Does our DNA compel us to act as we do?
compel = force
DefinitionGenerally compel means:
to force someone to do something

or more rarely:

to convince someone to do something
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cease
They signed a cease-fire agreement.
cease = to stop or discontinue (in this case, to stop firing weapons at each other)
DefinitionGenerally cease means:
to stop or discontinue
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bankrupt
as in:
bankrupt idea
It is a bankrupt approach to solving the problem.
bankrupt = without value
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antitrust
The greatest benefit of antitrust law is the prohibition against fixing prices.†
antitrust = related to laws intended to promote free competition in the market place
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burden of proof
The plaintiff goes first because the plaintiff has the burden of proof.†
burden of proof = the duty of proving an argument to be true — especially in court
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canon law
What would be called canon law in the Roman Catholic Church is called church order or practice and procedure in the Presbyterian Church.
canon law = the body of codified laws governing the affairs of a Christian church
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prejudice
The group works to eliminate racial prejudice.
prejudice = unreasonable and unfair belief or feeling
DefinitionGenerally prejudice means:
to have unreasonable belief — especially when unfair to members of a race, religion, or other group

or more generally:

to have (or create in others) an unreasonable belief that prevents objective (unbiased) consideration of an issue or situation
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liable
as in:
is legally liable
She was drunk and liable for the death of the other driver.
liable = held legally responsible
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confront
You must confront your problems.
confront = deal directly with an unpleasant situation
DefinitionGenerally confront means:
to deal directly with an unpleasant situation or person

or:

to challenge someone — often by presenting evidence
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defer
as in:
deferred the decision
The weather forced us to defer our departure another day.
defer = postpone or delay
DefinitionGenerally this sense of defer means:
postpone (hold off until a later time)
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precedent
Precedent set by the Supreme Court must be followed by all lower courts.†
precedent = an example from a prior time — typically used to justify similar occurrences at a later time (especially a judicial decision)
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advocate
as in:
to advocate
She advocates stricter gun control.
advocates = publicly supports
DefinitionGenerally this sense of advocate means:
to recommend or publicly support someone or something
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libel
The newspaper was accused of libeling him†
libeling = a false and malicious publication about a person
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slander
In the United States, it is extremely difficult for someone famous to win a slander lawsuit—almost no matter what is said.
slander = words falsely spoken that damage the reputation of another
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tort
Tort reform seeks to limit the liability of a company in many situations.†
tort = law:  any wrongdoing for which an action for damages may be brought
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arbitrary
It was an arbitrary decision.
arbitrary = based on chance or impulse
DefinitionGenerally arbitrary means:
based on chance or impulse (rather than upon reasoning, consistent rules, or a proper sense of fairness)
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de facto
The country is a de facto Russian territory.†
de facto = existing in fact whether officially declared or not
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de jure
At that time, segregation was de jure in the south and de facto in the north.†
de jure = by right; according to law
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arbitration
They submitted their disagreement to binding arbitration.
arbitration = the hearing and determination of a dispute by an impartial referee
DefinitionGenerally arbitration means:
the process of solving an argument with the help of an impartial referee
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bar
She just graduated from law school and now needs to take the bar examination.
bar examination = any of the state tests a person needs to pass to practice law in that state
DefinitionGenerally this sense of bar means:
any of the state tests a person needs to pass to practice law in that state

or:

the association of people qualified to practice law in a particular place
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community property
California and Texas are two of the community property states.
community property = property and income belonging jointly to a married couple

or:

the principle that property acquired during a marriage and funds that are commingled during the marriage are jointly owned
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litigate
I'm hoping we won't have to litigate the matter.
litigate = engage in legal proceedings
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summary judgment
The district court of California issued a summary judgment in favor of the defendant.†
summary judgment = a legal procedure in which one side wins a lawsuit without a trial by showing that the case involves no material fact issues, but only legal issues that can be decided by the judge
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symposium
I'm excited to attend the symposium on robotics.
symposium = a gathering to discuss a specific subject — generally with shared and breakout sessions in which individual or panels of experts address audiences
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statute of limitations
The complaint was not filed before the expiration of the statute of limitations.†
statute of limitations = a legal time limit after which lawsuits cannot be filed for civil or criminal charges
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estoppel
The lease says I must sign an estoppel certificate if requested.†
estoppel = a rule of evidence whereby a person is barred from making assertions that contradict earlier assertions by the person or that contradict a fact that has already legally settled
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intimidate
I was intimidated on my first day at the job, but I'm comfortable now.
intimidated = afraid (of being inadequate)
DefinitionGenerally intimidate means:
make fearful of inadequacy

or:

threaten
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Fourteenth Amendment
The Fourteenth Amendment overturned the Dred Scott decision.†
Fourteenth Amendment = The Bill of Rights originally guaranteed rights from infringement by the Federal government. This important 1868 amendment extended most of those rights so that state governments were also prohibited from infringing upon them.

It also guaranteed that no person should be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law and that all persons shall be guaranteed equal protection under the law.
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promissory note
The promissory note is secured by an interest in the equipment, fixtures, inventory and accounts receivable of the business.
promissory note = a legal document promising to pay a specified amount
DefinitionGenerally promissory note means:
a legal document promising to pay a specified amount on demand or at a certain time
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without prejudice
The case was dismissed without prejudice.†
without prejudice = law:  a lawsuit or proceeding ended without legal conclusions; i.e., it may be considered again as though the proceeding never happened
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intestate
She died intestate.
intestate = without a will
DefinitionGenerally intestate means:
describes a person who died without a legally valid will; or describes property left by such a person
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conflict of interest
She will not vote or participate in discussion on the subject due to a conflict of interest.†
conflict of interest = a conflict between one's duty and one's personal interests; or conflicts between competing responsibilities
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privity
His privity to our conspiracy makes him dangerous.†
privity = a shared secret

or in law:  a legal connection between parties such that one has responsibilities to the other
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cross-examination
Prosecutors expect to wrap up their cross-examination tomorrow.
cross-examination = the re-questioning of a witness who has already been questioned by the other side in court
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interlocutory
Appellate courts have the discretion to review interlocutory orders.†
interlocutory = law:  provisional or temporary
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subpoena
The witness and her records were subpoenaed.†
subpoenaed = a legal order requiring witnesses to appear or documents related to an appeal be provided
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compensate
2 meanings
as in:
she compensates with extra effort
She uses several techniques to help compensate for her dyslexia.
compensate = make up
DefinitionGenerally this sense of compensate means:
make up for; or adjust for
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as in:
she is generously compensated
The company has offered to compensate everyone impacted by the defective cars.
compensate = make payment to
DefinitionGenerally this sense of compensate means:
to make payment to someone (often in amends for a loss or inconvenience they suffered)
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homicide
It was ruled justifiable homicide.†
homicide = murder
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manslaughter
The girl who sent texts to her boyfriend encouraging him to kill himself was charged with involuntary manslaughter.
manslaughter = unintentional killing of a person
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specific performance
The builder sued the land owner for specific performance.†
specific performance = a legal remedy requiring that terms of a contract be performed rather merely permitting payment of damages
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power of attorney
A durable Medical Power of Attorney appoints a person to make medical decisions for you.†
power of attorney = a legal instrument authorizing someone to act on someone else's behalf in a legal or business matter
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public domain
Next year, the book will go out of copyright and into the public domain.†
public domain = property rights that are held by the public at large
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probable cause
A magistrate determined that there was probable cause to search the house.†
probable cause = law:  evidence sufficient to warrant an arrest or search and seizure
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due diligence
He did not exercise due diligence when investing her money.†
due diligence = the degree of prudence that might be properly expected from any reasonable person in the circumstances
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garnish wages
The IRS can and does garnish wages for unpaid taxes.†
garnish wages = having a percentage of someone's wages paid to a third party who is owed money by the employee due to a court judgment
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caveat
The good news comes with these caveats.†
caveats = a warning or qualification of a more general statement
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jointly and severally
They are jointly and severally liable.†
jointly and severally = law:  a partnership clause meaning that all partners are responsible for the actions of any partner
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collective bargaining
The Union introduced collective bargaining at the plant.†
collective bargaining = the process by which union leaders bargain with management as the representatives of all union employees
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notary public
We don't have a notary public in our offices, but there is one downstairs in the bank.†
notary public = someone legally empowered to witness signatures, certify a document's validity, and perform certain other acts depending upon the jurisdiction
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deduce
She trusts only what she can measure or can deduce from measurement.
deduce = conclude by reasoning
DefinitionGenerally deduce means:
conclude by reasoning — especially reasoning from the general to the particular
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† 
Sample usage followed by this mark was not checked by an editor. Please let us know if you spot a problem.
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