Common Latin Terms Still Used in Modern English

June 16th, 2013

Latin is one of the ancient Italic languages, which is no longer spoken primarily by any country. However, you will find bits and pieces of this language in modern English. So, while you needn’t learn to read and write Latin, it’s always good to know the common Latin terms still used.

Did You Know?According to a survey published in Ordered Profusion by Dieter Wolff and Thomas Finkenstaedt, 29% of the modern English words are derived from Latin.

Genealogically if we see, there is no such close relation between English and Latin. Many of us have the misconception of English descending from either Latin or Greek. However, this is not the truth; to an extent, English has been quite influenced by Latin. In the period of 43 A.D., the Roman Emperor Claudius invaded Britain and culminated with the Norman Conquest. During this time, many of the Latin words and phrases entered English language, some directly and some through French. Although, Latin is no longer spoken as a primary language in any country, some part of it still exists in our daily speaking and writing. You will find many scholars, students, and Roman Catholic clergies using this language fluently.

Some Common Latin Terms

Check out the list provided below, and you will come across half the words that you already use in your daily conversation, not knowing that they are of Latin origin. And if you don’t know the following terms, then you can start using it to improve your lexicon.

Latin Terms In Literal English ab extra from outside ab ovo from the beginning ad hoc for the specific purpose ad hominem to the man, to the person ad infinitum to infinity, forevermore ad nauseam to [the point of] nausea affidavit he has declared upon oath alma mater bountiful mother alter ego the other I bona fide in good faith carpe diem seize the day caveat emptor let the customer beware ceteris paribus other things being equal circa about, around cogito, ergo sum I think, therefore I am compos mentis in control of the mind curriculum vitae course of (one’s) life de jure according to law, concerning law Dei gratia by the grace of God de facto from the fact de novo anew ergo therefore erratum mistake, error et alii and others ex cathedra from the seat et cetera and so on, and so forth exempli gratia for the sake of an example ex gratia from kindness ex libris from the books, from the library of habeas corpus that you have the body homo sapiens wise men in absentia in absence in actu in act id est that is (to say) infra below, beneath in memoriam in memory inter alia among other things in situ in place in toto in total, completely in vino veritas in wine there is the truth in vitro in glass in vivo within the living ipso facto by the fact itself magnum opus great work mea culpa my fault, my mistake mens rea guilty mind modus operandi mode of working nota bene note well, note carefully pari passu with an equal step, on equal footing per for each per annum for each year per capita by heads, for each head per centum for each one hundred per diem per day, for each day per se in itself, by itself persona non grata an unwelcome person prima facie on the first appearance pro bono for the public good pro forma as a matter of form pro rata proportionally postmortem after death quasi with some resemblance quid pro quo this for that requiescat in pace rest in peace rigor mortis stiffness of death sine qua non without which [it could] not status quo the state in which subpoena under penalty, under punishment sui generis of its own kind tabula rasa clean slate, blank slate veni, vidi, vici I came, I saw, I conquered verbatim word for word, in exactly the same words versus against vice versa the other way round

Learning and speaking Latin fluently may not be necessary, but knowing some of these terms will help you in improving your language and comprehension skills.

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