Latin Words and Sayings

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Latin Words and Sayings

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.