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I've included a sort of catch-phrase ("power in property") in an essay I'm writing that I'd like to distinguish from the surrounding text. I decided to put it in quotes, even though I'm not actually quoting anything. Is this an acceptable practice?

James Harrington’s The Commonwealth of Oceana, and its principles of “power in property,” arguably contributed the most to the core founding principles of The Constitution.

  • If you look at the thread When is it appropriate to use scare quotes?, you will see that there are different possible implications. You can certainly use them here to specify that a non-standard term is being used, but attribution is required to clarify: << ... and its principles of 'power in property' (my term), ... >>. // I definitely think it better to not include a matrix-sentence comma within the inverted commas with scare quotes. – Edwin Ashworth Feb 22 '18 at 20:41
  • Your use of the phrase is not so novel or nuanced that you need quotation marks at all, even if in other contexts it might serve as a slogan. To me, it merely seems like you're using language effectively. Let that stand on its own rather than use "Look at me!" quotation marks. – KarlG Feb 22 '18 at 21:04
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    If I encountered your example sentence in the wild I would assume that the quotes marked the phrase as Harrington's, not yours. I suggest you make your authorship of the phrase explicit at the first mention--something on the order of "James Harrington’s The Commonwealth of Oceana, and its principles of what I call 'power in property', . . ." – StoneyB Feb 22 '18 at 21:08
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    This is commonly done. – Hot Licks Feb 22 '18 at 21:13

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