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Legalese From A to Z - FindLaw

Do you speak legalese? No, it's not a foreign language (though it may seem foreign at times). Rather, legalese describes the specialized language of the legal profession -- i.e., words only lawyers would use.

Welcome to Legalese From A to Z, a new FindLaw series highlighting the meanings behind some legal terms that may not be familiar to non-lawyers. To kick off the series, we're starting -- where else? -- with five words that begin with the letter "A":

  • Acceleration clause. An acceleration clause is a clause in a loan agreement accelerating the date by which payment in full is due under certain circumstances. For example, an acceleration clause in a mortgage agreement can be triggered -- meaning payment of the remaining balance of the loan will be due -- if the home is sold, title to the property is changed, the loan is refinanced, or if the borrower defaults on the loan.

Independence Day, also known colloquially as the Fourth of July, celebrates America's formal declaration of independence from colonial rule. The Second Continental Congress officially adopted the final version of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.

But beyond the official creation and adoption of one of our nation's founding documents, how did the Fourth of July come to be a federally recognized holiday?

Like the Rodney Dangerfield of holidays, Flag Day seems to get no respect.

But since being declared a holiday by President Woodrow Wilson in 1916, Flag Day has been a day to commemorate to adoption of the Stars and Stripes as the flag of the then-13 states that comprised the United States of America in 1777.

To help celebrate Flag Day, here are three pretty cool facts about Old Glory:

Father's Day is a great day for dads and their children, but how did it become a holiday?

The federal recognition of Father's Day didn't occur until the 1960s, more than 50 years after the country had begun celebrating American mothers through Mother's Day.

So how did Father's Day as a holiday come to be?

Fishing is an incredibly relaxing and inexpensive way to spend a day off from work. But is it legal to go fishing without a license?

Whether you're fishing off a dock with a $10 Pokemon-themed pole or standing waist-deep in a river fly fishing, chances are you'll probably need a fishing license -- though there are a few exceptions.

To make things clear for future anglers out there, here are the reasons it is most likely not legal to go fishing without a license:

Summer is a great time to relax by the pool or beach and take in a great book, and we have some lawyer-approved books for you to check out.

You could sip a margarita and explore the inequities in our criminal justice system, or drown out your screaming kids with a good ole bit o' fiction.

Prepare to read like a lawyer, and start with one of these 10 books:

Memorial Day has been celebrated for more than 100 years now, recognizing the losses felt during our nation's wars.

But how exactly did Memorial Day become an official federal holiday?

Unlocking a cell phone can be a big deal when switching between wireless carriers, and many mobile users may be wondering if unlocking is even legal.

There have been various changes in "unlocking" laws in the last five years, but it's still technically illegal to unlock your phone in many cases. Here's why:

Today marks the 60th anniversary of a court decision that changed American history: Brown v. Board of Education.

The landmark decision put an end to the doctrine of "separate but equal" in education and the legal segregation of public schools. It also paved the way for 1964's Civil Rights Act and remains a much-discussed decision, as well as the most popular U.S. Supreme Court case on FindLaw.com.

So why are we still talking about it, 60 years later? Here are six things every American should know about Brown v. Board of Education:

Saturday is Armed Forces Day, which celebrates all branches of America's military in one federally sainted day.

But it wasn't always that way. Here's a brief legal history of how Armed Forces Day came to be: