Legal definitions where nouns and persons are defined are common place reality of legal writing. We also see often times events and conduct be subject to definitions, and be referred to by a shortened reference.

Is it possible to describe the manner of an event or conduct by defining such manner and using such definition as reference later?

For example: Can you say negligently and/or tortuously hereinafter described as "Actionably", and use "Actionably" in lieu of the other 4 words thereafter throughout a legal document?

I'm interested in any examples, primarily under U.S. law, but also would be interesting to see if other jurisdictions accepted such languages or Actionably denied. :)

2 Answers 2


Yes though usually adverbs are not subject to statutory definition, so case law resolves most interpretive questions. But, 18 USC 1515:

(b) As used in section 1505, the term “corruptly” means acting with an improper purpose, personally or by influencing another, including making a false or misleading statement, or withholding, concealing, altering, or destroying a document or other information.

The Model Penal Code defines a number of adverbs: this is applied in Kentucky.

  • 1
    I’m pretty sure “reasonable” is an adjective and it’s one of the most defined words in jurisprudence.
    – Dale M
    Commented Jun 21, 2021 at 12:04
  • Thank you! I think you may have jumped to conclusion early: The question regards adverbs, but that’s also good too point out, no question!
    – kisspuska
    Commented Jun 21, 2021 at 18:49

It isn't common to do so.

Normally, you would define an "incident" or an "occurrence" or a "scheme", for certain events that happened, but you would ordinarily reserve the legal effect of what happened to a separate spelled out cause of action for each such type of wrong.

If you need to say something like "negligently and/or tortuously" frequently, you are probably using poor legal form and style (besides which, "negligently" is a subset of "tortiously").

  • Right to the heart! Thank you!
    – kisspuska
    Commented Jun 21, 2021 at 23:08

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