As wordsmitherly as attorneys are at times, there are other times that demand slight deviation from the legal gestalt of doing things. And that time may be now. With increasing use of the word “frickin'” in legal and nonlegal circles—particularly as it relates to the booming oil and natural gas industry in North Dakota and Ohio—we’ve noticed it popping up in all sorts of places. Just last week, court observers reportedly overheard Elena Kagan tell an unidentified supreme court justice, “watch the frickin’ robe, Chuck.”
With such a clear endorsement from the highest court, it’s about time to use frickin’ more liberally in your correspondence, legal briefs, and in overly legalistic cocktail conversations. Why? It just works, and sets you far apart from other lawyers who use boring and less linguistically sophisticated legal slang, like “outrageous” or “unmeritorius” or “appalling.” Need some help to get started? Here are a few initial tips.
Don’t Go Fricking Formal
As hard as it is for most attorneys, don’t skimp on the contractional use of frickin. In other words, don’t go formal and write “fricking” in your legal arguments, correspondence, or tweets. Unless you have a slow southern drawl or you like to use a British affectation in your speech, don’t elongate the word by adding the unnecessary ‘g’ at the end. You’ll just come across as yet another pencil-necked stuffed-shirt lawyer who has no real appreciation for the vernacular. Avoid.
Friggin’ Is for Clients, Frickin’ Is For You
While you may try to “connect” with the common client and with court personnel by dumbing down your use of frickin to “friggin,'” don’t do this. You will be seen as cute or, worse, patronizing. Leave friggin’ to the bailiff and your pre-school aged kids. Reserve frickin’ for you. And while freaking is an occasionally acceptable alternative, it lacks real rhetorical and euphemistic punch. More importantly, at least for attorneys, freaking alludes to things like zombies and ERISA lawyers, not orgies, fornication, and the like.
Use Frick If You Must
You can certainly shorten frickin’ to frick, but guess what? You lose the apostrophe. Plus, the obvious confusion with Henry Clay Frick becomes embarrassingly apparent. After all, Frick is considered one of the worst frickin’ American CEOs in the history of frickin’ CEOdom. Use frick only if you have no other options. Actually, frakin, fuggin, feckin, futzin, or effin are likely better and more powerful options than the plain and unassuming frick.
Seek Inspiration from Defendants and Thespians
If you are new to frickin,’ don’t fret. A simple Westlaw natural language search for “awesome legal use of frickin'” will yield great snippets for you to consider, such as “I’m thinking my ass off just to give you the—you know, the frickin’ crap I know.” And so will films, television, and internet memes. While obvious examples are Austin Powers (“sharks with frickin’ laser beams attached to their heads!”), other notable entertainment sources include motivational speaker Matt Foley (“Well, la dee frickin’ da”), Charlie Sheen (“I’m a total frickin’ rockstar from Mars”) and Carl from Aqua Teen Hunger Force (“Hey, who’s gonna arrest me, huh? The frickin’ trees?”). As a last resort, consider consulting Urban Dictionary, the go-to for desperate wordsmithing lawyers seeking unattainable street cred.
Sure, frickin’ probably reached its most recent heyday with the movie Napoleon Dynamite in 2004 (and was at an all-time high with Austin Powers in 1997). But that just means, as lawyers, it’s about the time to jump on another linguistic bandwagon that left the hayfield many years ago. That’s how we lawyers frickin’ roll.