Latin Phrases that everyone should know

25 Latin Phrases that everyone should know [meanings & examples]

Latin phrases are often sprinkled in English conversation and writing, some of them are also in scientific communication, offering a touch of elegance or precision. Here are 25 Latin phrases that are commonly used, along with their meanings, and examples:

  1. Ad hoc – For this purpose: Created or done for a particular purpose as necessary.
    • Example: “They formed an ad hoc committee to handle the issue immediately.”
  2. Carpe diem – Seize the day: Encourages making the most of the present moment.
    • Example: “Realizing life is short, he decided to carpe diem and take the trip he always dreamed of.”
  3. Caveat emptor – Let the buyer beware: The buyer is responsible for checking the quality of goods before a purchase.
    • Example: “When buying products online, it’s always caveat emptor.”
  4. Cum laude – With honor: Denotes a level of academic distinction.
    • Example: “She graduated cum laude from her university.”
  5. De facto – In fact: Something that exists in reality, even if not legally recognized.
    • Example: “English is the de facto language of international business.”
  6. Ergo – Therefore: Used to introduce a logical conclusion.
    • Example: “He hasn’t replied to any emails, ergo, he must be out of town.”
  7. Et cetera (etc.) – And the rest: Indicates further similar items are included.
    • Example: “She’s going to bring party supplies: cups, plates, napkins, etc.”
  8. Exempli gratia (e.g.) – For example: Introduces one or more examples.
    • Example: “There are many ways to cook eggs, e.g., scrambled, boiled, and poached.”
  9. Habeas corpus – You shall have the body: A person’s right to challenge unlawful detention.
    • Example: “His lawyer filed a writ of habeas corpus to challenge the unlawful detention.”
  10. In vitro – In glass: Biological or chemical studies done in lab settings.
    • Example: “In vitro fertilization has helped many couples conceive.”
  11. Ipso facto – By the fact itself: Indicates something is true by its very nature.
    • Example: “By not complying with the regulations, they are, ipso facto, breaking the law.”
  12. Mea culpa – My fault: An acknowledgment of one’s error or guilt.
    • Example: “I forgot to bring the tickets, mea culpa.”
  13. Per capita – By heads: Expresses an average per person, often used in economics.
    • Example: “The country’s GDP per capita is rising steadily.”
  14. Per se – By itself: Indicates something is intrinsically or inherently so.
    • Example: “He isn’t angry per se, just a bit disappointed.”
  15. Prima facie – At first sight: Evident from the facts at first observation.
    • Example: “There is, prima facie, evidence of tampering.”
  16. Quid pro quo – Something for something: An exchange of goods or services.
    • Example: “The agreement was a quid pro quo; services rendered in exchange for room and board.”
  17. Status quo – The existing state: Refers to the existing state of affairs.
    • Example: “Many people are resistant to change and prefer to maintain the status quo.”
  18. Subpoena – Under penalty: A writ ordering someone to attend a court.
    • Example: “He was served a subpoena to appear in court next week.”
  19. Terra firma – Solid ground: Refers to dry land, especially after being at sea.
    • Example: “After a long voyage, the sailors were relieved to be back on terra firma.”
  20. Vice versa – The other way around: The reverse of what you have said is also true.
    • Example: “You can call me, and vice versa, anytime.”
  21. Circa (c.) – Around: Indicates that a date is approximate.
    • Example: “The castle was built circa 1400.”
  22. In flagrante delicto – In blazing offense: Caught in the act of committing an offense.
    • Example: “The thief was caught in flagrante delicto.”
  23. Pro bono – For the good: Professional work done voluntarily as a public service.
    • Example: “The lawyer took on the case pro bono.”
  24. Terra incognita – Unknown land: Refers to unexplored or unfamiliar territory.
    • Example: “Quantum computing is still terra incognita for many in the tech industry.”
  25. Vox populi – Voice of the people: The opinion of the majority.
    • Example: “The referendum’s outcome was seen as the vox populi, clearly reflecting the public’s preference.”
M. Özgür Nevres


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