origin of the phrase: the right to privacy

Thu Jan 27 23:22:21 UTC 2011

        However, it should be noted that the collocation "right to X,"
where X is something that might reasonably be the subject of a right, is
not exactly novel in legal usage.  I think it's fair to say that "right
to privacy" was not an established phrase in 1890, and I'm not 100%
certain it's an established phrase today, as opposed to a non-fixed and
fully transparent collocation such as "English law" or "earliest cases."
For what it is worth, the earliest cases tended to say "right of
privacy" rather than "right to privacy."

John Baker

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf
Of Dan Goncharoff
Sent: Thursday, January 27, 2011 4:57 PM
Subject: Re: origin of the phrase: the right to privacy

The phrase existed in English law before the Harvard Law Review used it.

JONES v. TAPLING. July 12. 1862
Cases argued and determined in the Court of Common Pleas and in ...,
Volume 12
"...the law does not protect the right to privacy, as it does that to
light and air."

On Thu, Jan 27, 2011 at 4:11 PM, Dennis Baron <debaron at illinois.edu>
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Dennis Baron <debaron at ILLINOIS.EDU>
> Subject:      origin of the phrase: the right to privacy
> Did the phrase "the right to privacy" originate with the essay of that
> name by Samuel Warren and Louis Brandeis in the Harvard Law Review of
> 1890? An OED search for the phrase yields that article as the earliest
> cite. I'm teaching the article in my Language and Law class next week,
> and I am curious to know if the phrase antedates that often cited =
> article? (I wouldn't be surprised if it does.)
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