Word

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WORD, construction. One or more syllables which when united convey an idea a single part of speech.
     2. Words are to be understood in a proper or figurative sense, and they are used both ways in law. They are also used in a technical sense. It is a general rule that contracts and wills shall be construed as the parties understood them; every person, however, is presumed to understand the force of the words be uses, and therefore technical words must be taken according to their legal import, even in wills, unless the testator manifests a clear intention to the contrary. 1 Bro. C. C. 33; 3 Bro. C. C. 234; 5 Ves. 401 8 Ves. 306.
     3. Every one is required to use words in the sense they are generally understood, for, as speech has been given to man to be a sign of his thoughts, for the purpose of communicating them to others, he is bound in treating with them, to use such words or signs in the sense sanctioned by usage, that is, in the sense in which they themselves understand them, or else he deceives them. Heinnec. Praelect. in Puffendorff, lib. 1, cap. 17, Sec. 2 Heinnec. de Jure Nat. lib. 1, Sec. 197; Wolff, lust. Jur. Nat. Sec. 7981.
     4. Formerly, indeed, in cases of slander, the defamatory words received the mildest interpretation of which they were susceptible, and some ludicrous decisions were the consequence. It was gravely decided, that to say of a merchant, "he is a base broken rascal, has broken twice, and I will make him break a third time," that no action could be maintained, because it might be intended that he had a hernia: ne poet dar porter action, car poet estre intend de burstness de belly. Latch, 104. But now they are understood in their usual signification. Comb. 37; Ham. N. P. 282. Vide Bouv. Inst. Index, h.t.; Construction; Interpretation.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
References in classic literature ?
Upon my word, the pains he has taken in putting this little arbour to rights, and training the sweetest flowers about it, are beyond anything I could have--I wish he wouldn't put ALL the gravel on your side, Kate, my dear, though, and leave nothing but mould for me.'
"Upon my word! Why, it'll go up, and up, and come out like this."
'Yes, upon my word I was,' replied the small servant.