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Layperson or layman?

Question:

I am looking for a gender-neutral phrase to replace layman's terms. Should I opt for layperson's terms? What would you suggest?

Answer:

A quick search of federal government sites in Google resulted in 82 hits for layman('s) terms, 93 hits for lay terms, and just 5 for layperson('s) terms. While gender-neutral words and expressions are preferable, layperson's terms is somewhat cumbersome and not often found in government documents. It is clear from our search that lay terms is making some headway in replacing layman's terms. I would therefore suggest that you opt for the gender-neutral lay terms.

Here are a couple of examples with lay terms:

  • Major risks for the project should be clearly stated in lay terms. [Treasury Board site]
  • Interaction with the public improves our ability to explain science in lay terms. [National Research Council site]