Foreign Phrases Commonly Used in English
Phrases of Latin Origin
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Language Phrase Meaning
Latin ad absurdam to the point of absurdity
Latin ad hoc for this purpose only
Latin ad infinitum endlessly, forever
Latin ad lib improvised, without preparation
Latin ad nauseam endlessly, to the point of nausea
Latin a fortiori even more so, all the more
Latin alma mater one’s old university or school
Latin alter ego another self
Latin anno domini (A.D.) after the birth of Christ
Latin annus mirabilis wonderful year
Latin ante bellum before the war
Latin a posteriori inductive, empirical
Latin a priori deductive
Latin aqua vitae water of life
Latin ars longa vita brevis art is long, life is short
Latin aurora borealis northern lights
Latin bona fide in good faith
Latin camera obscura dark chamber
Latin carpe diem seize the day
Latin casus belli justification for an act of war
Latin caveat emptor let the buyer beware
Latin ceteris paribus other things being equal
Latin coitus interruptus withdrawal prior to ejaculation
Latin compos mentis of sound mind, sane
Latin corpus delicti evidence of a crime
Latin cui bono? to whose benefit?
Latin curriculum vitae (CV) résumé
Latin de facto in fact
Latin de jure based on law
Latin delirium tremens alcohol withdrawal symptoms
Latin de profundis out of the depths
Latin deus ex machina unexpected or improbable explanation
Latin dramatis personae characters in a play
Latin ecce homo behold the man
Latin e pluribus unum out of many, one
Latin ergo therefore, consequently
Latin et al. and others
Latin etc. and so forth
Latin Et tu, Brute? You too, Brutus?
Latin ex cathedra authoritative statement
Latin exempli gratia (e.g.) for example
Latin ex officio by right of office
Latin ex post facto retroactive
Latin flagrante delicto in the act
Latin genius loci spirit of the place
Latin habeas corpus writ requiring a prisoner to be brought to trial
Latin ibid. in the same place
Latin id est (i.e.) that is
Latin in absentia in the absence
Latin in camera in secret, in private
Latin in extremis in extremity, near death
Latin in flagrante delicto in the act
Latin infra dig vulgar, beneath one’s dignity
Latin in loco parentis in place of a parent
Latin in medias res in the middle of things
Latin in situ in its place
Latin inst. in the present month
Latin inter alia among other things
Latin in toto in all, altogether
Latin in vino veritas there is truth in wine
Latin in vitro in a test tube
Latin ipso facto by definition
Latin magnum opus great work
Latin mea culpa my fault
Latin memento mori reminder of death
Latin mens sana in corpore sano a healthy mind in a healthy body
Latin modus operandi way of doing things
Latin modus vivendi way of living
Latin mutatis mutandis with the necessary adjustments made
Latin N.B. note well
Latin ne plus ultra the best
Latin nil desperandum never despair
Latin non compos mentis not of sound mind, sane
Latin non sequitur something that doesn’t follow
Latin obiter dictum a passing remark
Latin op.cit. in the work cited
Latin pari passu at an equal rate
Latin pater familias father of the family
Latin pax peace
Latin per capita per person
Latin per diem by the day
Latin perpetuum mobile in perpetual motion
Latin per se in itself, intrinsically
Latin persona non grata unwelcome person
Latin post mortem autopsy
Latin post scriptum (P.S.) postscript, afterthought
Latin prima facie self-evident
Latin primum mobile prime mover
Latin pro bono for the public good
Latin pro forma for form’s sake
Latin pro rata proportionately
Latin Q.E.D. that which was to be demonstrated
Latin qua as
Latin quid pro quo fair exchange
Latin quo vadis? where are you going?
Latin q.v. refer to
Latin rara avis rare or unique person or thing
Latin re regarding, with reference to
Latin reductio ad absurdam reduction to absurdity
Latin rigor mortis stiffening of the body after death
Latin sanctum sanctorum holy of holies
Latin sic it is thus in the original
Latin sic transit gloria mundi thus passes the glory of the world
Latin sine qua non essential element or condition
Latin status quo current state of affairs
Latin sub rosa in secret, in confidence
Latin sui generis one of a kind, unique
Latin summa cum laude with the highest praise
Latin tabula rasa empty slate
Latin tempus fugit time flies
Latin terra firma firm or solid land
Latin terra incognita unknown, uncharted
Latin ultima ratio final resort
Latin vade mecum constant companion
Latin via dolorosa sorrowful way
Latin vice versa the other way round
Latin vox populi popular opinion or sentiment