I believe there’s a three-word phrase that means “a specific piece of jargon, used in a different sense than it’s normal meaning.” It’s something like word of practice or word of field. It feels more formal than jargon. I think it specifically means a word that has an ordinary meaning that is being disregarded, not just any technical word.

  • Hardness here is a ____ of ____; in geology it specifically refers to measuring which minerals can scratch which other minerals.
  • End of day is a _____ of _____ at [company]; it always refers to 4pm Eastern Time when the stock market closes.

It might be a French loanphrase—my brain is supplying me with nom de plume, which obviously isn’t correct.

My best phrase right now is “technical word/phrase” (too general) or just describing it as “used in the domain-specific sense”.

(Searching for “jargon synonyms” doesn’t get me there, “singular jargon” doesn’t help, and “technical word synonyms" just gives synonyms for technical.)

  • You're aware that you can just use jargon as with any uncountable noun? ".. is jargon for 4pm". Secondly note that the two examples you give are not, I would say, jargon - jargon is generally pejorative, something like saying "slang"; jargon is pointless shibboleth-like insider slang.
    – Fattie
    Apr 5 at 22:34

3 Answers 3


One such phrase is term of art:

term of art noun
(also word of art (now rare))
A word or phrase used in a precise sense in a particular subject or field; a technical term.


  • 1
    Think that's it. Thank you!
    – Kaia
    Apr 2 at 20:06
  • 1
    Yes, and a streamlined answer at its best. Apr 2 at 20:06
  • ... involving a stipulative definition. Apr 2 at 21:57
  • 5
    In fact, the term of art is "term of art". ;)
    – PM 2Ring
    Apr 3 at 23:04
  • 2
    Dictionary.com {based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary} has the more detailed definition: <<**term of art** [noun]: a word or phrase that has a specific or precise meaning within a given discipline or field and might have a different meaning in common usage ... >> One may think of 'similar' and 'integral' in maths. Apr 4 at 14:52

Technical term is common. Its Latin equivalent terminus technicus is also valid.

Technical term is plainer language than term of art without being less accurate, which is why I would prefer it, especially in international environments. Both the English term and the Latin one also have entries in Wiktionary.

  • The accepted answer includes this. Apr 5 at 10:05
  • @EdwinAshworth As an explanation, not as a suggestion. Apr 5 at 11:36
  • 'Technical term' is given in the dictionary you quote as a descriptive definition, not a headword. Apr 5 at 11:48
  • @EdwinAshworth Well, it is given as the translation and thus arguably as the English equivalent. Wiktionary has both. Be that as it may: It has no import on my suggestion. I think indeed that technical term is the best suggestion, for the reasons given. Apr 5 at 12:09
  • Yes; Wiktionary licenses the term 'technical term' (OED, I believe it is, doesn't claim it to be more than say a loose collocation or even free combination. Give credit to Andrew Leach, and I'll upvote. Apr 5 at 15:10

Because the original poster had the recollection that there might be a French one, I think it is worth contributing a Latin one for their peace of mind: terminus technicus.

Wiktionary has this entry:

terminus technicus

Latin terminus technicus.

terminus technicus
A technical term, a term of art.

The online Oxford English Dictionary, Cambridge Dictionary and Merriam-Webster do not contain this phrase.

  • 2
    Yes, there are enough examples on the internet to justify this as a loan word (or loan phrase for those who don't accept open compounds). Plural termini technici. But if 'term of art' is very formal, this is rarefied. Apr 5 at 10:05
  • That sounds vaguely filthy, for some reason.
    – Fattie
    Apr 5 at 22:27
  • @Fattie Only to a dirty mind ;-). Apr 6 at 13:40

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