Similes Used in the Language of Bankruptcy


Word usage in the legal world of judicial bankruptcy jargon is very important to both sides of an issue. Similes used are just another way Americans use the English language to facet their understanding of the legal terms in which they often struggle.

That is why the American judicial system makes it mandatory to certify legal practitioners through education and state licensing tests. Depending on which state you live, it is mandatory for lawyers to go to law school and pass the bar exam before they are allowed to practice law. During their training, bankruptcy lawyers become familiar with the language of bankruptcy legalese. As part of that legalese, it should be no surprise that similes have evolved to explain the usage of terms in the language of bankruptcy.

A simile, according to the online Merriam Webster dictionary, is a “figure of speech comparing two unlike entities introduced by the words like or as.” To illustrate the point of using a simile in the language of bankruptcy, a financially bankrupt business might be described by saying, “It is as financially bankrupt as an apple farm during a lengthy drought having only one apple left in its barrels.” The simile can be very simple, like the illustration, or it can be more complex. The point in using a simile is usually to help a reader clarify and understand the meaning of a particular situation better or to add descriptive color to a story. In the case of bankruptcy legalese, a simile can help a layman better understand what the meaning of their particular financial condition is in relationship to their particular situation.

Here are three examples of the use of similes in tying to help a layman better understand the legalese of bankruptcy.

  • Trying to legislate bankruptcy law is like trying to make sausage.” Legislatures put a lot of facts into the mixture of making bankruptcy laws and grind it all together until the laws make a palatable offering. If you have ever tried to make sausage, you will know it is not an easy task. Sausage never tastes just right until you have ground all the right combination of ingredients.

  • Now thou seemest like a bankrupt beau, stripped of his gaudy hues.” The writer uses the simile to leave the reader with the idea being bankrupt can strip a suitor down to the basics of life, void of all the trappings expensive clothing might impress upon his potential girl friend. The poetic imagery colors the story so the average layman can get an understanding of what it might be like to experience being bankrupt. Bankruptcy can strip a person down to the financial basics of life.

  • A chapter 13 bankruptcy is like a payment plan for a loan.” Although credit loans are usually what get you into bankruptcy in the first place, it is sort of ironic that a chapter 13 bankruptcy is similar to a payment plan. A chapter 13 bankruptcy is a type of bankruptcy that you can file and offer a reorganization plan to pay back all or part of you unsecured debt over 3 or 5 years. The only difference between the reorganization plan and a loan plan is that the chapter 13 does not make you pay interest, penalties or fees in the payment plan; nor does it necessarily make you pay back all the principal. A chapter 13 is like a loan payment plan in that you make regular monthly payments to a bankruptcy trustee to pay off the plan over time.

The list for similes and bankruptcy could be endless, but the idea is that bankruptcy legalese uses all the English language in its system, including the use of similes. Bankruptcy legalese can be complicated and often requires those educated in the system to help a layman interpret its deeper meaning.

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