Saturday, March 24, 2012

Latin phrases everyone should know

Not everyone gets the chance to learn Latin at school so here are some Latin phrases to learn that will help you in your day-to-day life. Latin might be a 'dead' language but it is still around and still taught so knowing at least some is necessary.

Per se:
Translation “by itself”.
Can be used to mean “intrinsically”.

Vice versa
Meaning "to change" or "turn around".
Used to mean to “reverse the order”.

Alma mater:
Literal translation is "dear/bountiful mother".
Used everyday to denote the college or university from which a person has graduated.

Magnum opus:
Denotes the greatest work created by an artist, a true masterpiece in writing, painting, sculpture or music.

Bona fide:
Literally means "good faith".
Used legally to represent something that is presented without deception or fraud. Literally in good faith, honest, sincere and lawful.
Commonly used to mean “the real deal” or “truly authentic”.

In Means “as if “or “as though”.
Commonly used as a part of a compound word to indicate “resemblance” but not in all features.

Alter ego:
Meaning "a second self" or "another I".

“To repeat in exactly the same words” or “word for word”.

Status quo:
Meaning "the state in which".
Commonly used to designate the existing state or condition of things.

Indicates there is a spelling or grammatical error (or just something out of the ordinary) in an original quotation. Used to indicate the publication has only reproduced it faithfully, not made an error.

Id est (i.e.):
Means "that is".
Commonly used when the speaker or writer wants to give an example or explanation that specifies a statement.

Deus ex machina:
Meaning "God out of a machine".
Used in literature to describe a plot where an artificial or improbable means of resolving a conflict is used, much as an act of God is improbable and artificial.

Exempli gratia (e.g.):
Meaning "for the sake of example" and when it see it in a sentence you can expect that is will be followed by some examples.

Et cetera (etc.):
Meaning "and the others".
Used to denote that a list of things could continue ad infinitum.

Ex libris:
Meaning "from the library of."
Not commonly used today.

Ibidem (ibid):
Meaning "in the same place".
Found in footnotes and bibliographies to designate that the same source has been cited twice in succession.

Et alii (et al):
Found in footnotes and bibliographies.
Use allows you to refer to a large number of authors without having to write each name out.

Ad infinitum:
Meaning "to infinity".
Used to describe something that goes on, seemingly or actually endlessly.

De facto:
Meaning "from the fact".
Commonly used to distinguish what is supposed to be the case from what actually is.

In toto:
Meaning “in all” or “entirely”.
Used to mean "in total".

Ipso facto:
Meaning "by the fact itself".
Commonly used and misused term that denotes when something is true by its very nature.

Tabula rasa:
Meaning "clean slate".
Denotes something or someone not affected by experiences and impressions.

Terra firma:
Meaning “firm ground”.

Mea culpa:
literally to "my fault."
Used to admit your own guilt or wrongdoing in a situation.

Persona non grata:
Meaning an "unacceptable person".
Someone who is no longer welcome in a social or business situation.

In vitro:
Meaning "in glass".
Any biological process that occurs in the laboratory rather than in the body or a natural setting can be called in vitro.

In vivo:
Meaning "within the living".
Commonly used when referring to animal testing and clinical trials.

Ante bellum:
Meaning "before the war".
Can be applied to any war.
Most commonly used to refer to the American Civil War and the Antebellum Era that preceded it.

A priori:
Meaning to take a general law or idea and apply it to a particular instance without needing experimentation or observation.

A posteriori:
A posteriori arguments are different than a priori because they are based on actual observation or experimentation.

Ad nauseam:
Commonly used to describe an argument that has been taking place to the point of nausea.

Meaning “therefore” or “hence”.

Compis mentis:
Meaning "in command of one's mind".
Commonly used in the legal field to denote someone who is competent to stand trial and not encumbered by mental illness or handicap.

Meaning "under penalty".
Non-response to a subpoena will result in penalties under the law.

Ad hominem:
An argument that attacks someone's character rather than addressing a question or issue at hand, appealing to emotions and prejudices rather than reason or logic.

Habeas corpus:
Meaning to “have the body”.
A writ of habeas corpus requires a person to appear before the court in person. Habeas corpus cannot be suspended unless there is reason to believe that a person could pose a danger to the public.

Pro bono:
Pro bono means "for the good".
Commonly used with the meaning “free of charge”.

Mens rea:
Meaning "guilty mind".
The difference between murder and manslaughter. Those who go into a crime intending to commit it have mens rea, while those who commit a crime accidentally or without advance planning don’t.

Ad hoc:
Meaning "to this".
Refers to something that is formed or done quickly to meet the needs of a particular problem or issue, without regard to a more general application. Generally lacking in advance planning.

Per diem:
Meaning "by the day".
Commonly used for payment by the day.

Curriculum vitae:
Meaning "the course of one's life".
Commonly used to describe a resume.
Applied to mean a short list of your accomplishments and training.

Pro rata:
Meaning to charge at a proportional rate.

Quid pro quo:
Meaning "this for that".
Often used to describe an exchange of value necessary for a contract to take place.

Carpe diem:
From a poem by Horace.
Commonly held to mean "seize the day".

Cogito ergo sum:
Meaning "I think, therefore I am".
From the philosopher Rene Descartes.

Veni, vidi, vici:
Meaning "I came, I saw, I conquered".
Said to have been uttered by Roman emperor Julius Caesar after a short war with Pharnaces II of Pontus.

In vino veritas:
Quote from Pliny the Elder meaning, "in wine there is the truth."
Often followed up with "in aqua sanitas" or "in water there is health".

E pluribus unum:
Meaning "out of many, one".
Found on anything bearing the seal of the United States.

Et tu, Brute?:
Meaning "Even you, Brutus?".
These are the famous last words of Julius Caesar after he is murdered by his friend Marcus Brutus in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar.
Commonly used to designate any form of the utmost betrayal.

Veni, Vidi, edi
Meaning “I came, I saw, I ate”.
The family motto.

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