ESSENTIAL L ATIN:
Example: Though we never actually
elected him, Thomas is the de facto leader
of our club. WHAT YOU
NEED TO KNOW
Ergo—Original meaning: therefore or as
By Amelia Harper
Example: He failed the drug test; ergo,
he does not qualify to run in the race.
English is not a Romantic language—that is, English is not a
language that descends from Latin. However, Latin has greatly
influenced our English vocabulary because of its role as the
language of science, law, and scholarly pursuits. Learning Latin
roots is a great way to improve your English vocabulary. However,
pure Latin words and phrases abound in our modern world. Below
are some of the most commonly used Latin expressions, phrases, and abbreviations.
Learning them can enhance your knowledge, help you navigate research materials, and
allow you to amaze your friends and relatives with your Latin language skills!
Errata—Original meaning: errors. Now
used to indicate a list of errors in a publication
Example: Along with the correct answers,
the textbook publishers included a page
of errata on their website.
FAMILIAR LATIN TERMS
Ad hoc—Original meaning: to this
[purpose]. This term is often used in
reference to something (especially a
committee) created for a specific purpose.
Ad valorem—Original meaning:
according to value. Refers to something (usually
a tax) that is related to the value of an object.
In toto: Original meaning: totally or
Example: They bought the business in
Example: Sales and property taxes are
ad valorem taxes.
Example: Our church formed an ad hoc
committee for the purpose of exploring
options for the new sanctuary.
Alma mater—Original meaning:
bountiful mother. Used since 1710 to refer to
a person’s school or university.
Magna cum laude—Original meaning:
with great praise or honor. Often used
in graduation ceremonies to designate
those with high grade-point averages.
Ad infinitum—Original meaning: to
infinity. Something that continues
Example: Harvard University is my
Example: At our school, those with
grade-point averages of 3. 8 or higher
graduate magna cum laude.
Example: The speech seemed to
continue ad infinitum.
Bona fide—Original meaning: in good
Mirabile dictu!—Original meaning:
incredible to relate.
Ad nauseam—Original meaning: to the
point of nausea.
Example: Members of the Jones family
talked about their trip ad nauseam and
I wanted to go home.
Example: I would like to get paid with
bona fide currency, not Monopoly money.
De facto—Original meaning: according
to the fact. Now means “in reality, though
perhaps not o;cially.”
Example: I asked my children to clean
their rooms and, mirabile dictu, they did it!
Per capita—Original meaning: by the
head. Now usually means “per person.”
This is a term commonly used in statistics.