• replevin •
Pronunciation: rê-ple-vin • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. The recovery by legal means of property unlawfully held by someone else; an action of trover. 2. A writ empowering someone to recover goods wrongfully held by someone else.
Notes: Replevin is an odd noun form for the verb it comes from, replevy—one reason why it attracted our attention. If you replevy property held illegally by someone else, you will need a replevin in the second sense to do so. You replevy goods that belong to you by an action of replevin. By the way, replevin is favored in the US; trover is used elsewhere in the English-speaking world.
In Play: Into every life these days, a little legalese must flow: "The cattle rustlers quickly hired a lawyer to respond to the flurry of replevins they were receiving from their victims." We may as well make use (fun?) of it: "Mom, please help me! I've tried everything short of an action of replevin to get my jacket back from my sister!"
Word History: Today's Good Word was taken from Old French replevine, the rather regular noun from replevir "to offer as security". It comprises re- "over, again" + plevir "to pledge". French inherited this verb from Late Latin plebere "to pledge". Latin apparently borrowed this word from a Germanic ancestor of English pledge, changing the j-sound of DG, which Latin did not have, to [b]. Pledging was apparently associated with gambling, gaming, and games of risk, for the same root turns up in English play and the risky word plight. (It is now time to pledge our gratitude to Sara Goldman for suggesting one of the strange little words lawyers play with all the time.)