How can "in terms of" alone encompass — and substitute — multiple prepositions "at, by, as, or for"?
in terms of. This phrase is commonly used as a substitute for a precise identification of relationship or as a substitute for such prepositions as at, by, as, or for. The phrase is correctly used when one thing is being expressed in terms of another thing, as when a rule is discussed in terms of its economic effect. The phrase is loosely or incorrectly used in the following sentences: This policy argument is strong in terms of our client’s case. (Is a strong argument for our client? Or for the opposition?) If the doctor’s words are construed in terms of a guarantee, the result will be different. (Construed as a guarantee?)
How can in terms of
"substitute for a precise identification of relationship or as a substitute for such prepositions as at, by, as, or for"?
signify four prepositions that don't perfectly substitute each other? Incontrovertibly, in some contexts, it's UNgrammatical to substitute at, by, as, or for with each other — L2 learners commonly muff them, and pick the wrong adposition!
Bahrych, Merino. Legal Writing and Analysis in a Nutshell 5th edition (2017). 368.