California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI)

316. Interpretation—Meaning of Technical Words

You should assume that the parties intended technical words used in the contract to have the meaning that is usually given to them by people who work in that technical field, unless you decide that the parties clearly used the words in a different sense.

New September 2003

Sources and Authority

  • Civil Code section 1645 provides: “Technical words are to be interpreted as usually understood by persons in the profession or business to which they relate, unless clearly used in a different sense.”
  • A court will look beyond the terms of the writing where it appears that the parties intended to ascribe a technical meaning to the terms used. (Cooper Companies, Inc. v. Transcontinental Insurance Co. (1995) 31 Cal.App.4th 1094, 1101 [37 Cal.Rptr.2d 508].)

Secondary Sources

1 Witkin, Summary of California Law (10th ed. 2005) Contracts, § 745

13 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 140, Contracts, § 140.32 (Matthew Bender)

27 California Legal Forms, Ch. 75, Formation of Contracts and Standard Contractual Provisions, § 75.15 (Matthew Bender)

2 Matthew Bender Practice Guide: California Contract Litigation, Ch. 21, Asserting a Particular Construction of Contract, 21.22