Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: layman; layperson; lay person.

layman; layperson; lay person. “Layman” is the most common among these terms and is commonly regarded as unexceptionable — in reference to members of both sexes, of course. E.g.: o “James Wilkinson, the 55-year-old layman who carried the cross at the head of Princess Diana’s funeral procession, said he had never experienced anything like Saturday’s ceremony.” Mary Williams Walsh, “1961-1997,” L.A. Times, 7 Sept. 1997, at A22. o “One of the hormones has been postulated to cause the post-prandial — in layman’s terms, after-meal — mechanism that brings on drowsiness.” Diane Lacey Allen, “Feeling Full,” Ledger (Lakeland, Fla.), 27 Nov. 1997, at D1. Still, modern writers increasingly avoid “layman” on grounds of sexism. “Layperson” is an Americanism that originated in the early 1970s. Though much less common than layman, it does appear, especially in the one-word form — e.g.: “Some would require coverage for surgical procedures such as mastectomies or for emergency care in cases where a ‘prudent layperson’ would think it necessary.” Mary Agnes Carey, “Patients’ Rights Are Hot Item in Congress,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 25 Nov. 1997, at A4. For information about the Language-Change Index click here. ——————– Quotation of the Day: “Formerly, we studied grammar in order to read the classics; nowadays, the classics seem to be studied only as a means of learning grammar.” Francis Bowen, Gleanings from a Literary Life 30 (1880). ====================
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