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Law French

Law French is an archaic language based on Norman French. It was used in the law courts of Great Britain, beginning with the Norman Conquest by William the Conqueror. Its use continued for several centuries in the courts of England.

In its later years, Law French became increasingly artificial, and its vocabulary became increasingly English, as it was used solely by English lawyers and judges who often spoke no real French. A frequently quoted example of this mixed English-French language comes from a marginal note printed in Dyer's Reports in the 17th Century, discussing the case of a prisoner who "ject un Brickbat a le dit Justice que narrowly mist" ("threw a brickbat at the said Justice, which narrowly missed").

The inverted syntax of many legal noun phrases in English — attorney general, fee simple — is a heritage from Law French. Many of the terms of Law French have been converted into modern English in the 20th century to make the law more understandable in common law jurisdictions. However, some key terms remain from Law French, including the following:

[This is a partial list, please add any other English legal terms you are aware of that have a Law French origin.]