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Words on your mind…hitherto

It would seem that many of you are involved in some sort of legal wrangle at present. The word hitherto has recently been searched for rather a lot in Macmillan Dictionary and this is a classic legal term – hence my suspicion! I like this word and think that rather than it being unusual and nebulous, it is well-suited to what it describes. Hither is the old word for here so it translates literally as ‘as far as here’, here meaning ‘now’ in this sense. As you can see its meaning is quite precise and so lends itself well to legalese, where there are many conventions governing the exact meaning and possible interpretations of certain words like this one, that is used much more often in a contract than it is in everyday conversation. Other such words are albeit, aforementioned, de facto and habeus corpus.

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Beth Penfold

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