Common Latin Phrases Used in Everyday English

Have you ever looked at a dollar bill and wondered what the phrase “E pluribus unum” means? Or if you know what this phrase means, did you know that this is Latin? E pluribus unum translates to “one from many.” Conceptually, this has become a de facto (another Latin phrase) motto for the United States, which emerged as one nation from thirteen colonies.

Latin is considered a dead language because no community uses it as a native language. However, Latin is a historical language now referred to as a classical language. It is still used today in the Church and in literature. Latin words are also commonly used in the courtroom. Romance languages derive directly from Latin. English is a Germanic language. However, many English words come from Latin roots. There are also many Latin terms used directly in English today.

Here are some common Latin phrases used in everyday English:

ad hoc – formed for a particular purpose

ad lib – improvised

alter ego – other self

bona fide – real, genuine

carpe diem – seize the day

caveat – a stipulation or condition

consensus – agreement

de facto – in reality

de jure – by law

ergo – therefore

et cetera (etc) – and so on

excelsior – ever upward

major – great

mea culpa – through my own fault

per capita – per person

per diem – per day

per se – specifically, by itself

status quo – the state in which, existing state of affairs

verbatim – in exactly the same words

vice versa – the other way around

How many of these common Latin phrases do you use in your everyday speech?



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