Latin Phrases

Here’s a list of Latin phrases and sayings that are used in English often enough to have become part of the language.

A cappella [Music] in church [style], i.e. unacompanied voices.
A priori From what comes before.
Ad absurdum To the point of absurdity.
Ad hoc For this purpose.
Ad infinitum Without limit – endlessly.
Ad nauseam To a sickening extent.
Alma Mater One’s old school (literally ‘bounteous mother’).
Alter ego Other (alternative) self.
Annus horribilis A horrible year.
Agnus Dei Lamb of God.
Aqua pura Pure water.
Aqua vitae Alcoholic spirit, e.g. brandy/whisky. Literally ‘water of life’.
Ars longa, vita brevis Skill takes time to acquire, but life is short.
Ave Maria Hail Mary.
Carpe diem Seize the day (‘enjoy the day, pluck it when it is ripe’).
Caveat emptor Let the buyer beware.
Cogito ergo sum I think, therefore I am.
Corpus Christi The body of Christ.
De facto In fact – in reality.
Dei Gratia By the grace of God.
E Pluribus Unum One from many.
Et cetera (etc.) And the rest.
Et tu, Brute And you, Brutus.
Ex libris ‘Out of the books’, i.e. from the library.
Gloria in excelsis deo Glory to God in the highest.
Habeas corpus You must have the body (in court).
In absentia In one’s absence.
In camera In private chamber.
In flagrante delicto In the act of committing an offence.
In loco parentis In the place of a parent.
In vitro In a test tube (literally ‘in glass’).
Ipso facto By that very fact.
Magnum opus A great work.
Mea culpa My fault.
Modus operandi (m.o.) Mode of operating.
Nolens volens Willingly or unwillingly (see also, willy-nilly).
Post partum After childbirth.
Prima facie At first sight; on the face of it.
Pro bono Without charge – for the public good.
Opus Dei The work of God.
Quid pro quo Something for something, i.e. a favour for a favour.
Quo vadis? Where are you going?
Rigor mortis The rigidity of death.
Semper fidelis Always faithful.
Sine qua non Indispensable.
Status quo The current state of affairs.
Sub judice Before a court.
Tempus fugit Time flees.
Terra firma Solid ground.
Urbi et orbi To the city and to the globe.
Veni vidi vici I came, I saw, I conquered.
Vice versa The other way around.
Vivat Regina Long live the queen.
Vox populi The voice of the people.

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