Latin Words and Sayings

Peyton Duplechien • 27 Sep 2009 • 2 min read

Even though Latin is a dead language as far as speaking goes, we continue to hear and read many Latin phrases in the English-speaking world. Understanding these common Latin phrases is one mark of a well-educated person, and it helps to have a list of these Latin phrases to which a person can refer when reading or doing research. The following is a list of many common Latin phrases used in English along with their English meanings. If the phrase is commonly found in abbreviated form, the abbreviation is given in parentheses after the full Latin term.
ad hoc
— for this purpose
ad infinitum (ad inf.) — to infinity, never ending
ad interim (ad int.) — in the meantime
ad locum (ad loc.) — to the place
ad valorem (ad val.) — according to the value/its value
alma mater — kind mother
anno domini — in the year of the lord
bona fides — good faith
carpe diem — seize the day
caveat — beware, be careful
caveat emptor — may the buyer beware
certiorari — to be reviewed by the appellate court
circa (ca.) — about
deo volente  — god willing
dramatis personae — the characters in the play
exempli gratia (e.g.) — for example
et alli/et alia (et al.) — and the others
et cetera (etc.) — and the others
habeas corpus — you may have the body
ibidem (ibid.) — in the same place
idem (id.) — the same, exact
id est (i.e.) — that is
idem — same
in loco (in loc.)  — in the place
libra (lb.) — pound
mea culpa  — my fault
multum in parvo — much in little/many in few
nil desperandum — never despair
non obstante (non obst.)  — notwithstanding
non sequitur — does not follow
opere citato (op. cit.) — in the work cited
per diem — by the day
post mortem — after death
pro tempore (pro tem.) — for the time, temporary
quasi —almost, not quite
recipe (Rx.) — take, consume
Requiescat in pace (R.I.P.) — may he/she rest in peace
quid pro quo — something for something, an even exchange
semper Fidelis (semper fi) — always faithful
sic — yes
sine qua non — an essential thing, without this condition there is nothing
status quo — the state as things are now, as things are now
sub vero (s.v.) — under the word
sui generis — of its own type/kind
summum bonum — the chief good
tabula rasa  — blank slate or blank tablet
tempus fugit — time flies
veni vidi vici — I came, I saw, I conquered
versus (vs.) — against
vice versa — the terms reversed
vox populi (vox pop.) — the voice of the people
For more Latin words and meanings, visit the following resources:

  • Latin Dictionary — This is an extensive Latin word list with English meanings.
  • Latin Dictionary and Grammar Aid — The University of Notre Dame has designed this site to help students of Latin look up words and understand grammar.
  • Research Latin — Researchers will find this list of common Latin abbreviations used in English research to be very helpful.