Dictionary.com
definitions
  • synonyms

Philadelphia lawyer

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

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

Related Words for philadelphia lawyer

shyster, trickster

Examples from the Web for philadelphia lawyer

Historical Examples of philadelphia lawyer

  • 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.”

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