Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Is Your Lawyer a Daffy-Down-Dilly?


Daffy-down-Dilly
Has come to town
With a yellow petticoat
And a pretty green gown.


The daffodils put me in mind of that little nursery rhyme which in turn put me in mind of a scene in Dorothy L. Sayers's delightful Unnatural Death in which a lawyer says:

'You are too easily surprised,' said Mr. Towkington. 'Many words have no legal meaning.  Others have a legal meaning very unlike their ordinary meaning. For example, the word "daffy-down-dilly." It is criminal libel to call a lawyer a daffy-down-dilly. ha! Yes, I advise you never to do such a thing. No, I certainly advise you never to do it.'


I first read this long before the coming of the Internet and Mr. Google and always wondered what that legal meaning was. And now I know . . .


Thanks to THIS ARTICLE in The Law Society Gazette (UK) I know that in England in the 16th century, to accuse a lawyer of being a daffy-down-dilly (or an 'ambidexter') was to suggest that he was operating under a conflict of interest -- playing both sides to his own advantage.-- and it was a very serious charge. 

Thanks, Mr. Google!





11 comments:

katy gilmore said...

I love this, often finding myself surrounded by lawyers, now I know how to get their goats. (Try explaining that phrase to someone you are helping to learn English!). I like your mind Vicki - always something new coming forth. xo

Victoria said...

I always wondered about that, too, Vicki. Thanks for the clarification!

Ms. A said...

I don't recall ever hearing that term, but at least I know what it means now.

Kath Marsh said...

Fascinating!

KarenB said...

I had wondered about that as well! Thank you for the clarification.

Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

I don't recall hearing that term, but I'm always glad to expand my knowledge. Very interesting.
Sam

Barbara Rogers said...

Between Google and Vicki, I'm getting educated!

Frances said...

And of course, no lawyers would ever, ever operate in such a way.

Those yellow blooms are brightening my morning, Vicki. xo

Suz said...

well...I learn something new every day

Jim Egerton said...

With the way things go in Washington I would say there is a huge bloom of daffy-down-dillies year around.

NCmountainwoman said...

Lovely flowers and interesting information. Makes me think of the silly song, "Lavender Cowboy" who rode on a filly called daffy-down-dilly.