Terms like 'make whole', 'encumbered', etc have both non-financial/non-legal usages and financial/legal usages and, in some cases, explicit financial/legal definitions.

To avoid technical connotations, to avoid the possibility of a sentence being read as a legal statement, an obvious workaround is to swap in such a synonym. But synonyms may not exist, or when one does exist, the sentence may unacceptably degrade.

Another remedy is to include a phrase such as 'colloquially speaking'. But the deprecation could be inappropriate.

What are other ways to minimize the chance of a sentence from being misconstrued in this way? Is there an adjective or modifer that accomplishes this?

EDITs: adding fictitious examples:

A divorce can make whole both parties. (google: "make whole" divorce. example: http://www.divorcecentral.com/lifeline/life_ans.html. Make Whole in the sense of closure, in the sense of getting on with their lives)

The VA is a monopoly on veteran healthcare. (This sentence was spoken a few minutes ago by Senator Lindsey Graham at his Town Hall, see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xtzDvmLrK-s at about 40:00. Monopoly in the sense the VA is immune from competition.)

closed as too broad by Dan Bron, user66974, alwayslearning, Glorfindel, tchrist Mar 26 '17 at 15:18

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • I think this is a better fit for our sister site, Writing. This site doesn't do writing advice; were more focused on the nuts and bolts of English as a language (i.e the way a linguist studies it). We answer questions about syntax, morphology, etymology, orthography, and the like. Stylistic questions are addressed on Writers. Also things like citation formats etc. – Dan Bron Mar 25 '17 at 18:56
  • In what context? If you have a specific example, or can craft a model sentence that would employ a word or phrase, this question might be more on topic here. – 1006a Mar 25 '17 at 18:58
  • added example, and trying to think of others. – Mike Mar 25 '17 at 20:18
  • Those examples are a good start. Now you need to either a) add an intro or follow-up sentence that approximates the "don't take this legally" language that you want (so we know specifically what we're aiming for), or else b) if there is a specific technical term that you want to replace, identify that. Preferably one term request per post of you prefer this approach. – 1006a Mar 25 '17 at 20:32
  • A possible workaround--use footnotes. Flag any words or phrases that could have a legal meaning different from what you want to convey, and clarify or explain the intended meaning in the footnote. That's relatively unobtrusive and doesn't require modifying the body of the document. – fixer1234 Mar 25 '17 at 22:15

used in a non-technical sense


A divorce can make both parties whole (where I am using "make whole" in a non-technical sense).

You could use the other article if you prefer: "in the non-technical sense."

You can see this phrase being used this way in, for example, Thinking Arabic Translation: A Course in Translation Method (which I found by googling): "the word is being used in a non-technical sense."

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