So what's going on? The word is in no dictionary that I could find. It appears in no Nexis-searchable publication. A Google search for "Romanette" in English-language pages revealed fewer than 35 pages that used the word before Monday, once all the false positives (the names of people, horses, green bean varieties, blinds, and the like) were removed.Did Eugene personally while away the hours extracting horses and green beans? Ah, but it was worth it:
And yet the word, with precisely the meaning Ms. Saharasky used, appears in six court opinions, from federal court in Oklahoma, bankruptcy courts in Texas and Pennsylvania, and state courts in Minnesota, plus ten sources in Westlaw's TP-ALL database (all in practitioner journals, not in traditional law reviews). And the Google hits — mostly from legal documents — come from a similarly wide range of sources: the minutes of a Novato, California City Council meeting, a manual of contract drafting, a transcript of an Idaho Senate commitee meeting, and more. What's more, all but a few use the word as matter-of-factly as Ms. Saharasky did, without any indication that the word is anything novel and unusual; the remaining ones are queries about what the word means or brief discussions of its meaning.What's interesting is the way the people who say it evince a belief that the word is in common usage, when so many people don't know it. (By the way, there should be a word for the sense that something is ordinary and understood when it's really quite strange.)
Eugene wants to know how this could have happened:
Did ["Romanette"] arise at some particular law school, or in some law firm, or among users of some particular drafting manuals, and thus seem common to people who have been exposed to it but unknown to others? Or am I mistaken in my conjecture, and the users of the word like it so much — or think it's so good for showing off — that they use it even though they know many listeners don't understand it?I like the idea that it was the coinage of some particular lawprof, who infected his students, and the infection never went pandemic. (I tried to do that with a word long ago.)
From the comments chez Volokh, I'm getting the impression that "Romanette" is a word used by transactional lawyers and alien to litigators. A shibboleth. Up until now, that is.