Eugene Volokh points to a lexicographically riveting exchange at oral argument before the Supreme Court:
MS. SAHARSKY [of the Solicitor General’s office]: What I’m suggesting, Your Honor, is that the “that” refers to everything that is in Romanette (i) and (ii) up to the break with “committed by”…
CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: Romanette?
MS. SAHARSKY: Oh, little Roman numeral.
CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: I’ve never heard that before. That’s — Romanette.
No consensus has emerged on the origins of “romanette.” Comments suggest it may have originated in transactional law. But no one has pinpointed its provenance within that field. Eugene first hypothesized it may have come from a particular professor or from a particular law school, but if that were true, then wouldn’t we find some cross pollination? That is–law students take classes across different subject areas and a useful concept discovered in one would then easily migrate to another. But judging from the comments, it appears the term arose in the practice of law rather than its study.
Anyhow, I e-mailed the whole Megillah to Erin McKean, the Dictionary Evangelist. (If you haven’t been blinded by the awesomeness of her TED presentation, please watch.) I asked her if romanette was a word. She says:
“Oh, what a great word!…I’d say this is definitely a word (a jargon word if that makes people feel better). It’s not the OED yet, but I think it’s fantastic.”
Here’s hoping it makes the next edition of the OED!