Published: 24th August 2019
English Blues: Do you understand the meaning of these news-related terms?
Are you familiar with the words/ phrases kingpin, prima facie, vendetta and benefit of doubt? Here, we explain the meanings of a few terms to you
At the time of writing this column, I was bombarded with the words/phrases kingpin, prima facie, incommunicado, vendetta, preposterous, evasive replies, under scanner and benefit of doubt. News anchors and panellists repeatedly used these terms while discussing a breaking news story. I heard the chief editor of a news channel use the term ‘prima facie’ over 20 times within 20 minutes.
The news was that former Finance Minister P Chidambaram was denied anticipatory bail by the Delhi High Court in the INX Media case. Justice Sunil Gaur, who heard the case, made the statement that “facts of the case prima facie reveal that the petitioner (P Chidambaram) is the kingpin”. He said, “It is preposterous to say the prosecution of Chidambaram is baseless, politically motivated and act of vendetta. It is a classic case of money laundering.”
What is the meaning of the term ‘prima facie’? It is a legal term used to describe something which appears to be true when you first consider it. This Latin expression literally means “at first look” or “on its face”. The four-syllabic word is pronounced [pry] + [muh] + [fay] + [shee]. It refers to “a criminal prosecution in which the evidence before trial is sufficient to prove the case unless there is substantial contradictory evidence presented at trial”. The words ‘evidence’ and ‘case’ collocate with ‘prima facie’. Here are examples of how it is used:
- The CBI special court in New Delhi hearing the 2G allocation scam finds prima facie evidence.
Those who are used to reading comic books are familiar with the word ‘kingpin’. The character ‘Kingpin’, created by Stan Lee and John Romita Sr, is a fictional supervillain in American comic books. The word has both positive and negative connotations. Positively, the word means any person who plays a key role in the success of an organisation or operation. The word ‘linchpin’ can also be used to refer to the positive connotation of the word. In the case of Mr Chidambaram, it has a negative connotation. It means the key person in any scandal or corruption.
Look at these examples:
- Mexican President Calderon, who is known for his fight against his country’s narcotraffickers, is known as the kingpin of the kingpin strategy.
- Lao drug kingpin was sentenced to life after finding him guilty of smuggling narcotics.
When someone is unable or unwilling to communicate with others, we say the person is incommunicado. It can be either by choice or force. The word can be used as an adjective or as an adverb. It is a Spanish word used in English with the Anglicised spelling.
- Why did Chidambaram go incommunicado?
- After the abrogation of Article 370, many leaders in Kashmir were held incommunicado.