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Philadelphia lawyer

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noun
  1. a lawyer of outstanding ability at exploiting legal fine points and technicalities.

Origin of Philadelphia lawyer

An Americanism dating back to 1780–90
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for philadelphia lawyer

Historical Examples

  • Philadelphia-lawyer, a Transatlantic limb of the law considered to be the very acme of acuteness.

    The Slang Dictionary

    John Camden Hotten

  • The phrase, Enough to puzzle a Philadelphia-lawyer, means, enough to puzzle the sharpest man in the world.

    The Slang Dictionary

    John Camden Hotten


Idioms and Phrases with philadelphia lawyer

Philadelphia lawyer

A shrewd attorney, adept at dealing with legal technicalities, as in It would take a Philadelphia lawyer to get him off. This expression dates from the late 1700s and, as lexicographer Richard H. Thornton observed: “Why members of the Philadelphia bar should be credited with superhuman sagacity has never been satisfactorily explained.”

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.