Latin, so dead yet so alive.
Latin is personified as the mother of all Romance languages which include ostensibly English, French, Spanish, Italian and a few minor western romance languages.
Its usage have long since ceased to be except for religious writings that are in "pure" Latin done by monks in monasteries and also in the Vatican in encyclicals and other church pronouncements. It still thrives in these hermitages and in the Vatican in the conduct of church affairs and legal writs (in Canon Law) but without any new additions and coinages which typify “live” contemporary languages. Latin continues to live on in the western languages, contributing to their vocabularies and other subtler endowments such as grammatical terminology and structure. Latin is a "dead" language but its influence and importance lives on. The study of Latin is a relevant endeavour in most aspects of life and continues to be a wellspring of terminologies in the modern world.
o Latin remains relevant and central to advanced academic fields. Latin may be found in law, medicine, sciences, theology and history and most often helps in providing accurate and definitive words to be expressed with absolute clarity.
o English has borrowed numerous Latin and Latin-based phrases into its vocabulary. The study of Latin benefits one's command of English, even outside the interest of specialized fields where Latin words are most prominent. It is a language that transcends time and has the ability to insinuate itself into any language as it is the founding block for every “romance” language
For those of us who have struggled and suffered much by undergoing the rigours of learning Latin in our early academic lives, the rewards have come by having a better armory of words and having a more précise grasp of the English language than most. Wrestling with the conjugations and the declensions and those daunting Ciceronian speeches memorized and recited seem to have been worth the effort.
Just like French, Latin has found itself into the mainstream of contemporary English and I have listed some of the more commonly used Latin words and phrases which would be helpful in making us be better understood and also be better appreciated for the aesthetic value it endows to our everyday English.
Common Latin Words and Phrases
a cappella - in the chapel style, without instruments
a posteriori - from what comes later
a priori - from what comes before
ad absurdum - taken to absurd lengths, to an absurd extreme
ad hoc - to this particular purpose
ad hominem - according to the person
ad infinitum - going on forever
ad majorem Dei gloriam -for the greater glory of God
ad nauseam - to the point of making one sick
addendum - an item to be added
agenda - things to be done
alias - otherwise
alibi - elsewhere
alma mater - nurturing or nourishing mother (refers to the university one has attended)
alter ego - another "I" or another self
alumnus - from the word "alere" meaning to nurture, a graduate of a school or university Feminine form is alumna, plural - alumni.
amicus curiae - friend of the court
Anno Domini (A.D.) - In the year of the Lord
ante - before
ante cibum (a.c.) - before meals
ante meridiem (a.m.) - before noon in the period from midnight to noon.
antebellum - before the war
aqua vitae - water of life (spirits, wine/brandy)
ars gratia artis - art for art's sake
aurora borealis - northern lights
aut vincere aut mori. - Either conquer or die.
bona fide -in good faith
carpe diem - Seize the day. (literally "pluck” the day)
casus belli - an act used to justify war
causa mortis - cause of death
caveat - Let him/her beware.
caveat emptor. - Let the buyer beware.
caveat lector - Let the reader beware. (Text might not be accurate.)
circa (ca.) - around or approximately, usually used with dates.
citius, altius, fortius – “Faster, higher, stronger” (Olympic motto)
cogito ergo sum. - "I think therefore I am." (René Descartes)
compos mentis - of sound mind
cum - with
cum laude - with praise
curriculum vitae - the course of one's life (resumé)
de facto - in fact
de iure - according to law
Deo gratias - Thanks be to God.
deus ex machina - god from the machine (contrived solution usually to a literaryplot)
Dominus vobiscum - The Lord be with you.
e pluribus unum - "From many, one." - a national motto (USA)
ecce homo - Behold the man.
emeritus - from merit (often used to refer to a retired professor)
ergo – therefore (used to show a logical conclusion)
errare humanum est - To err is human.
erratum - error
et alii (et al.) - and others (used to abbreviate a list of names)
et cetera (etc.) - and the rest, nowadays also "and others", "and so on", "and more")
ex - out of
ex cathedra - with authority
ex gratia - from kindness or from grace (referring to someone performing an act out of kindness as opposed to being forced to do it)
ex libris -from the books (library) of
ex officio - from the office (when someone holds one position by virtue of holding another, for example, the U.S. vice president is ex officio president of the Senate)
ex post facto - from what is done afterward, of a law with retroactive effect.
exeunt - They leave.
exit He/she leaves.
facsimile - Make a similar one. (origin of the word fax)
factotum - an employee, assistant with many diverse functions
factum est - It is done.
fiat - Let it be done.
finis - the end
flagrante delicto - in the act of committing a crime
gloria - glory
gloria in excelsis Deo - glory to God in the highest
habeas corpus - You must have the body. (You must justify an imprisonment.)
hic et nunc - here and now
honoris causa - for the sake of honor
ibidem (ibid.) - in the same place, usually in bibliographic citations.
id est (i.e.) - that is to say, sometimes "in this case," depending on the context
illuminati - enlightened; a name given to several groups, both historical and modern, and both real and fictitious.
imprimatur - Let it be printed.
in absentia - in the absence of
in excelsis - in the highest
in extremis - in extremity
in flagrante delicto - In flaming crime (caught in the act)
infra - below, underneath
in loco - at the place
in loco parentis - in the place of a parent
in medias res - into the middle of things
in memoriam - in memory of
in principio - in the beginning
in situ - in position
in toto - totally,completely
in vacuo - in a vacuum
in vino veritas. - In wine is truth.
in vitro - in glass
inter alia - among other things
intra muros - within the walls, not public
ipso facto - by the fact itself
laus Deo - Praise be to God.
literati - men of letters
locus delicti - the scene of the crime
loquitur - He/She speaks.
lux et veritas - light and truth
lux mundi - the light of the world
magna cum laude - with great distinction
magnificat - It magnifies.
magnum opus - the greatest piece of work
mea culpa - through my fault
memento mori - Remember that you must die.
memorabilia - memorable things
mens sana in corpore - a healthy mind in a healthy body
millennium (millennia) - a thousand year period
modus operandi (m.o.) - way of operating
modus vivendi - way of living
moratorium - a delay
ne plus ultra (also non plus ultra) "nothing more beyond" literally, the best or most extreme example of something.
nihil - nothing
noli me tangere - Touch me not.
nolo contendere - I do not wish to contend. (no contest - a plea that can be entered on behalf of a defendant in a court that states the accused doesn't admit guilt but will accept punishment for a crime.)
non sequitur - it does not follow
nota bene (n.b.) Note it well.
O tempora, O mores! - "Oh the times! Oh the morals!" (Marcus Tullius Cicero)
opus Dei - the work of God
pari passu - with equal step (moving together, simultaneously)
pater noster - our father
paterfamilias - father of the family
pax - peace
pax vobiscum - Peace be with you.
per annum - yearly
per capita - per head (per person)
per cent - per hundred
per diem - daily
per se - by itself
persona non grata - person not wanted,
post bellum - after the war
post facto - after the fact
post meridiem (pm) - after midday, from noon to midnight
post mortem - after death
post partum - after childbirth
post prandial - after eating.
prima facie - at first sight
pro bono (pro bono publico) - for the good of the public said of a lawyer's work that is not charged for.
pro forma - as a matter of form, formality
pro patria - for one's country
pro rata - for the rate, (in proportion to the value)
pro tempore - for the time being, (temporary)
quid pro quo - this for that (a favor for a favor)
quo vadis - Where are you going?
quod erat demonstrandum (QED) - which was to be demonstrated
quorum – dangers, of which there were not a few; minimum number of members that must be present to make proceedings valid
re - concerning
reductio ad absurdum - reduction to the absurd
referendum - something to be referred
requiescat in pace - (RIP) May he/she rest in peace.
res iudicata – a judged thing (Legal concept: once a matter has been finally decided by the courts, it cannot be litigated again.)
rex - king
rigor mortis - the rigidity of death
salve - hello
semper fidelis – (Semper Fi) always faithful
sic - thus
sine die - without a day (indefinitely)
status quo - the current state of being
stet - Let it stand. (marginal mark in proofreading to indicate that something previously deleted or marked for deletion should be retained)
sub poena - under penalty of law
sub rosa - under the rose (secretly)
sui generis - of his/her/its own kind
sui juris - of one's own right (capable of legal responsibility)
summa cum laude - with highest praise
supra - above
tabula rasa - blank tablet or slate
tempore - in the time of
tempus fugit - Time flees.
terra firma - solid ground
terra incognita - unknown land
vade in pace - Go in peace.
vale - farewell
veni, vidi, vici - I came, I saw, I conquered.
verbatim et litteratim - word for word and letter for letter
veritas - truth
versus (vs.) - against
veto - I forbid (a right to unilaterally stop a certain piece of legislation)
via - by way of
vice - in place of
vice versa - with places exchanged (in reverse order)
vox populi - voice of the people