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Latin Phrases in English to Use Every Day

Published by My Lingua Academy on

In today’s lesson, we will look at the most common Latin phrases in English to use every day. Even if you don’t know Latin, you can enjoy using these smart phrases in your everyday conversations or writing.


Here we go.


AD (Anno Domini)


Meaning: “in the year of the Lord”. It refers to the birth of Jesus Christ.
So, if you want to say that something happened in this era (starting from the year 1 to 2021 now), you say that it happened in AD.


For example:
Named for the Roman emperor who commissioned it in AD 122, Hadrian’s Wall stretches 73 miles across northern England.
The writer was born in 1767 AD.


BC (before Christ) is not a Latin phrase, but I thought it might be useful to explain it here.
Meaning:
It is the opposite of AD and it means that things happened before the birth of Jesus Christ. It refers to the things that happened in the past era.
For example:
In 330 BC Persia was conquered by Alexander the Great.
This play was first performed in 411 BC.


Ad hoc


Ad hoc means “for this case only” and it refers to something which is being organized only once, whether for one specific purpose (Ex. They called an ad hoc meeting to solve the problem of rats in the basement) or for an event organized in the last minute to discuss something very important which can’t wait (Ex. The prime minister called an ad hoc meeting to discuss the recent riots.)


Alma mater


Meaning: the school or college you used to attend and graduated from.


For example:
Laura is so happy. She’s going to teach Biology at her alma mater.


If you are talking about one student who graduated from or completed their studies in alma mater, you can say they are an alumnus (for a male) or alumna (for a female). The plural is alumni.
For example:
A few alumni from that college helped to raise money to renovate the school gym.

Latin Phrases in English to Use Every Day


Amor Vincit Omnia


Once upon a time, at the beginning of this era, the Roman poet Virgil wrote: Omnia vincit amor: et nos cedamus amori (love conquers all: lets us too surrender to love).
Ever since, people use this saying to spread the message about love.


For example:
Our parents were against our relationship. But we’re a happy family with two kids now. Amor vincit omnia, as they say. Love conquers all.


A priori


Meaning: knowledge acquired without any experience.


For example:
People who are religious a priori believe
that God exists without any experience or proof about it.


A posteriori


A posteriori is the opposite of a priori and it refers to knowledge based on experience.


For example:
Science is a posteriori matter. It is based on experience.


Bona fide


Bona fide is an adjective meaning “in good faith”. It stands for something done with honesty or something genuine and real. You will often hear the noun “bona fides”, as well.


Let’s look at the example sentences to make things clearer:
Madonna is established as a bona fide celebrity.
This court is to check the bona fides of a woman who claims to be the boy’s mother.

Latin Phrases in English to Use Every Day


Carpe diem


Meaning: seize the day. The saying advises us to enjoy this moment as if there is no tomorrow.


Example:
Don’t waste your time while you’re in college. Carpe diem! Seize the day. Enjoy as much as you can.


Circa


Circa is normally used before a particular year to say that is the approximate date when something happened.


Example:
The bridge was built circa 500 AD.


De facto


Meaning: in fact, or in reality. Use it to indicate that something is a specific thing, not something else.


Example:
These two people are de facto people who invented Google. Their names are Sergey Brin and Larry Page.


Etc. (et cetera or etcetera)


You probably know this one. It means “and so on”. Use it at the end of a list to indicate that there are more things or people to add to it but you don’t want to name all of them.


Example:
Months in English are called January, February, March, etc.

Latin Phrases in English to Use Every Day


E.G. (exempli gratia)


Meaning: an abbreviation meaning “for example” or “such as”. It is mostly used in writing.


Example:
The Smiths keep some animals on their farm, e.g. sheep, cows, and chicken.


I.E. (id est)


Meaning: this is another abbreviation meaning “that is”, “in other words”. Mostly in writing, it clarifies and provides more precise information.


Example:
This health condition occurs when you eat fatty foods, i.e. cheese or meat.


In vino veritas


Meaning
: there is truth in wine, or wine helps your tongue loosens up.


Example:
Jerry claimed that he spilt the beans because of too much alcohol intake, but in vino veritas, as we know.

Latin Phrases in English to Use Every Day


Mea culpa


Meaning: my mistake. This phrase is used to acknowledge that something is your fault.

Example:
“Potatoes are totally burned. Why didn’t you turn off the oven?” “Sorry. Mea culpa.


Per angusta ad augusta


Meaning: “He Conquers Who Conquers Himself.” It means that the one who perseveres through dark times will achieve greatness. This phrase has inspired students and soldiers through the centuries.


Example:
Sarah spent countless sleepless nights studying while she was a student. Despite all, she didn’t find it difficult because she always knew that per angusta ad augusta.


Status quo


Meaning: refers to the existing state which doesn’t change.


Example:
John was happy with the status quo in his relationship and didn’t plan to change it in any way.


Veni, vidi, vici


Meaning: I came, I saw, I conquered. This phrase is attributed to Ceasar and it is used to refer to a triumph.


Example:
After a glorious victory in Asia Minor, Caesar sent his famous message to the Roman Senate: ” Veni Vidi Vici “, meaning ” I came, I saw, I conquered “.

Latin Phrases in English to Use Every Day


Versus


Meaning:
against. It is usually used to compare two things.


Example:
British pound set a 6-month high versus the dollar.


Vice versa


Meaning: the other way around.


Example:
A marketplace needs enough buyers to attract sellers and vice versa.

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