Thursday, March 12, 2009

Term of Art

Intrestingly, according to everything2.com the phrase Term of Art nicely truns out to be



A word or phrase used by practitioners in a field of endeavour which has a precise and typically quite technical meaning within the context of the field of endeavour. Terms of art allow practitioners in a field to communicate with each other concisely and unambiguously.
Inventing suitable yet totally
new words to be used as terms of art is often quite difficult. Consequently, the words which become terms of art often also have non-field-specific meanings. This can create and/or reinforce communication barriers between a field's practitioners and non-practitioners. Unfortunately, inventing totally new words or borrowing words from other languages can also contribute to said communication barriers (see "de bene esse" below).
The
extent to which a practitioner uses their field's terms of art correctly and routinely is a strong indicator of the depth and breadth of the practitioner's experience in the field. That said, the mark of a true adept in a field of endeavour is their ability to clearly communicate advanced field-specific concepts to non-practitioners.
It should be noted that "term of art" is essentially a
synonym of jargon when the two are used in colloquial contexts. On the other hand, "term of art" is a term of art in the legal profession whereas "jargon" isn't!



Examples include:
back door:
In computer security, a hidden way into a system.
In architecture, a door on the back or rear side of a building.
In poker, (roughly speaking) a hand which improves dramatically after the exchange of multiple cards.
de bene esse: in law, formally sufficient for the time being. Somehow, I doubt that this term has much meaning outside of the context of the law.
party:
In law, the claimant or respondent in a lawsuit (there are other "term of art" definitions of "party" within the legal field of endeavour).
In university life, what often happens on Friday and/or Saturday night.
thread:
In sewing, a thin filament or fiber.
In computing, an independent entity executing with the context of a process.
In e-mail or usenet, a chain of messages or posting on, at least in theory, a single topic.

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