“Layman’s Terms” Meaning | Do You Know What this Idiom Means?

You may have heard someone using the phrase ‘layman’s terms’ during a conversation. But what does this term mean? We are going to look at the answer to this question as well as looking at how we can use this term in our daily conversations. We will also take a look at where the phrase originally came from.

Layman’s Terms

“Layman’s Terms” Meaning

When someone asks for something to be explained in ‘layman’s terms’ they are asking for it to be explained very simply without any technical wording being used.

Origin of this idiomatic phrase

The phrase ‘layman’s terms’ first came from the 16th century and had the meaning of ‘plain English.’ A layman is better known as a ‘common’ person, someone who would not be able to understand complicated explanations.

“Layman’s Terms” Examples

Examples in Statements

This statement is being made by a student to his teacher.

  • ‘Sir, I did not understand a word you just said, could you explain it in layman’s terms please.’

This is a statement which is being made by a teenager to her mother.

  • ‘I’m only 15 mom, you can’t expect me to understand all of that. Say it in layman’s terms.’

Other examples:

  • In layman’s terms, we’ve almost got an on-off switch.
  • There are basically two types called, in layman’s terms, blue and white asbestos.
  • If you don’t understand what the doctor says, ask to have it explained in layman’s terms.

Conversation Examples

There are many times that the saying ‘layman’s terms’ can be heard in a conversation. Here are some examples of how it would look.

The first conversation is taking place between a doctor an a patient.

  • Person 1: “So, to sum it up you have pleurisy.”
  • Person 2: “Doc, I have no idea what you are saying, explain it to me in layman’s terms.”

Here is a conversation which is occurring between two co-workers.

  • Person 1: “So, what do we need to do?”
  • Person 2: “We need to connect the ABS to the faucet.”
  • Person 1: “Can you say that in layman’s terms now.”

Other Ways to Say the Phrase

There are other ways in which you can express the meaning of the idiom ‘layman’s terms.’ Here are some examples of other things you might say that carry the same meaning,

  • Layperson terms
  • Simple terms
  • Plain English

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