Martin Kelley has an immensely interesting facebook discussion going about Favorite Jargony Quaker Phrases, with over 100 comments/replies.

What's your favorite jargony Quaker phrase?

(And thanks to Martin for such an interesting conversation. I brought it here for folks who are not on facebook. For those who are, you should be able to follow the link below.)

facebook discussion


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What kind of phrases have come up so far?  I refuse to go on Facebook to find out! 

Okay then:  How about "Quaker Midnight"?  (variously described as between 8p.m. to 10 p.m. depending who you talk to) or "Quaker beer?"(coffee)

Hello friend Laura!

I have braved Martin's facebook page to see what I could glean from it.  The following are essentially the terms people offered up.  Some provided with comment, most not.  No one credited for what they said, generally, but if anyone wants to know who said what they can see the link above in the original post.  I did include Martin Kelley's comment that clarified what he was asking about.

...and Laura, I'll make sure to say at the onset that I like your phrase Quaker midnight".  I wasn't recognizing that as one but now that you mention...

Following are the general comments (or at least terms) mentioned on the linked page (none of them my comments/terms):

I have to admit the term Quakerly is a pet peeve of mine. There is an implication that by virtue of our tradition or our piety we are somehow more enlightened or moral than others. When we say someone is not being Quakerly it is not only a judgment of their behavior it is succumbing to false pride.

"discern" or "contemplate" being used for very mundane things, like i've heard myself say "i'm still contemplating" or "i'm still in discernment" when asked if i'm ready to order at a restaurant or other times when most people would say "decide" or "thinking about"

"that of God within"

"Sorry, Friends, I gotta stand in the way here" (most irritating phrase to hear in my clerking days). Inward vs Inner Light (most-cited at ESR?). "Don't make me hold you in the Light"

"Seasoned Friend"

Waiting Worship.

I have also noticed that Friends prefer to use the word "one" instead of "you". For example, in my previous post I asked "How long before one becomes a seasoned Friend?" Instead of "How long before you become a seasoned Friend?". I suspect this is a hang over from a time when "Plain Speech" was more common, and Friends preferred not to use the second person plural.

Would Orthodox, Hicksite, Wilburite, Beanite, and the like count as jargon? Or just as labels for differentiating specific groups over time?

Worship sharing, heart sharing, Quaker Process, Bible centric meeting

Not a phase but a behavior: thanking someone for their vocal ministry, as if it came from them instead of God. What would meetings for worship be like if we thanked a Friend for being silent?

Christo-centric Friend.

The very word 'friend', the use of the phrase 'greetings friends', first day school, popcorn meeting, clerk thyself!

using "meeting" as shorthand for Meeting for Worship: go to meeting, after day my Dad (non-Quaker) asked when do we worship!

"Holding in the light"

One thing that I hear that bothers me is when someone says something like "Stillwater Monthly Meeting" when the intent was "Stillwater Meeting House." Some meetings do not hold a MM for one reason or another.

It was maybe 12 years ago that "meeting for worship with attention to business" suddenly became the only correct way to say "business meeting" in liberal circles.

"meeting for worship for business"

Back in the ancient of days when I was serving as recording clerk, I minuted that we had struggled with an issue (and I can't for the life of me remember what the issue was). When I read the minute back to the group one Friend objected as the word "struggled" seemed violent and not in alignment with our Peace Testimony.

First day


Birthright, convinced, open worship


What is the difference between using jargon, when we apply an inside term that has a clear, more widely understood substitute ("First Day" v. "Sunday"), vs. language we have that really does mean something particular to Quaker practice or Quaker religi...


“Classic” mail

I've seen gatherings / meetings use the word "diverse" to describe themselves -- though, when I looked around the room, I had great difficulty identifying the diversity they were speaking about.

I'm afraid I've too often heard "as way opens" used to mean, "when/if it becomes convenient."

"Friends are strongly encouraged..."

Martin Kelley:  I wonder at a distinction between the kind of jargon that proves to others in our in-group that we have command of the lingo versus a jargon that makes a witness in the world. The numbering of days and months started out as outward witness. It's become...See More

Outrunning your guide again?


That is not a name that would have occurred to me."

The good order of Friends.

Way opens

Holding in the light

clearness  committees

that of God in everyone


I guess my two-cents is

a) I'm pretty irritated by the use I find people making in practice of the term "Quakerly".  It usually seems to mean that someone is judging themselves for not fitting into a small enough box (having been moved to dress colorfully one day, for example), or is finding fault with someone whose methods or leading is a mystery to themselves.   It seems to mean "I value something other than authenticity and I find you or myself not to be small enough and furthermore I believe that God and the Light is not large enough to allow for ALL THAT."    (sorry for my rant)

b) I like how Martin said "I wonder at a distinction between the kind of jargon that proves to others in our in-group that we have command of the lingo versus a jargon that makes a witness in the world."  

...well that kind of implicates most all of us! (and it should give us such a thing to think about!)

Hi Friend Olivia!!

Funny, I love the term "Quakerly".  I know exactly what it means and it is a good thing.   By the way, also using the term "Friend" can come across with all kinds of shades of meaning, depending on the tone of voice, but tends to be used with special vigor in modern times to preface a Quakerly Scolding!!

Here's one I don't hear much anymore, but also like, "Labour With"  (English spelling preserved)  Picture little Lucretia Mott in the play yard imitating Quaker Eldering.  "I have laboured with Tabitha Brown and I believe I have softened her some."   Although the picture one gets nowadays of labouring with is likely to be that of a Doula.

Query: as used when it's really a question to start discussion, rather than a query out of the discipline to bring an individual or a meeting to reflect on our current practice or experience.   This is a misapplication of a specific term in Friends practice.  It dilutes the meaning of the original and becomes jargon. 

Good points, about "labour with" and query...   Wonderful when they mean their richer, reflective version that's so powerful, spiritually.

I have to admit that I've discovered a prominent Quaker with whom I have had to translate whatever I feel into the appropriate or next-approximate jargon in order for them to believe that what I'm doing  or what I'm into has anything to do with Light.    Am I saying that clearly?   Not sure....        Trying to get at...that some people may show you that they need the extra jargony version or they won't see the Light in you.   

Switching focus here, toward the divine stuff we really excel at....when I first discovered the unprogrammed Quakers, the 'jargon that makes a witness to the world' for me was the use of the full "Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business".  There was such a meeting my first day visiting.  I stayed for it, and was blown away. 

From that long spiritual title, on through the silence and reflective truth that was shared, the "labouring with" that was present, etc., and through the integrity of hammering out the record of minutes just following...these Friends had shared with me a true witness to the power of integrity and Spirit.  My feeling then being:  "if they do this with a business meeting, what can't they do!?"   

So I find that the long title for MfB simply underlines the experience of it as well, and is a powerful and necessary witness. I have met someone else who told me that it was a MfB that convinced her to become a Quaker.

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