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What's the Good Word?

February 29, 1996|CONNIE KOENENN


It's the stuff that separates the animals from the first-timers, the knockoff artists from the hogwagons.

Over the years, outside forces have attempted to ban the paper hangers and the SACs and other jargonese, but private-speak has survived and thrived.

Last week jargon was attacked once more when Eugene Hickok, the Pennsylvania education secretary said enough already! "Any bureaucrat who slips an acronym in, uses a noun as a verb or submits a garbled memo must put a dollar into the Jargon Jar," he said clearly--the proceeds to be donated to buy CD-ROM dictionaries for schools.

If Mr. Hickok had a dollar for some of the jargon we found at the Department of Water and Power (hogwagon), the FBI (SACs), the Postal Service (animals) as well as in the worlds of movies (first-timers), law (paper hangers) and fashion (knockoff artists), every kid in Pennsylvania would have a CD-ROM dictionary.

Read on. We promise you'll never look at a mule or a pig the same way again.


* Paper hanger: a person who writes bad checks, often on accounts that don't exist.

* Hometowned: losing a case because of local favoritism when you are an out-of-town party or attorney.

* Sandbag: to hold back evidence in order to spring it later on the other side.

* Pissing backward: testimony from a witness that contradicts his previous story to police.

* Heart-balm: statute forbidding a lawsuit by the rejected party when an engagement has been broken.

* QDRO (pronounced "qua-dro"): Qualified Domestic Relations Order, which is basically a court order, as part of divorce settlement, that allows a non-working spouse to collect from a future pension.

* Nunc Pro Tunc (Latin for "Now for Then"): If your lawyer forgot to sign the divorce papers and you've jumped into a new marriage, the delinquent papers can be backdated so your new marriage is legal.

* Nail and mail: If you want to serve papers and can't find the person, post the papers on the residence door and put a backup copy in the mail.

* Deuce: Drunk driving, shortened from its California Penal Code number, 502.

* Wet reckless: A reduced charge of drunk driving to "reckless driving which was alcohol related" when blood alcohol is borderline illegal.

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