Latin terms and phrases glossary

Latin terminology, origins, meanings, translations and usage examples

Latin terms and phrases glossary

latin phrases and expressions [edit]

latin terminology, origins, meanings, translations and usage examples

Below is a list of Latin terms which (to varying degrees) are still used in English.

Some of this Latin terminology is very common in general speech and written communications; other Latin terms are more rarely used, in specialized situations, notably for example in law, science, and education/academia.

Latin terminology, expressions and phrases feature widely in the English language. The modern meanings and usage, while evolved and adapted, mostly still generally reflect the original literal translations.

Latin is a regarded as a 'dead' language because it is not used as a main language in day-to-day communications and life.

Latin however remains very much alive as a highly significant language, especially in technical references.

Here are just a few examples of Latin terms which are used very widely in English, including some extremely common abbreviations:

  • ad hoc
  • alias
  • bona fide
  • e.g. (exempli gratia)
  • etc. (et cetera )
  • i.e. (id est)
  • N.B. (nota bene), and
  • P.S. (post script)

There are many more very familiar Latin terms in the listing below, together with the literal/original meanings, and modern usage examples.

For a 'dead' language, the resilience of Latin is extraordinary. Its resilience would be extraordinary were Latin a living language.


Latin is still taught to millions of students around the world, and will continue to be for a very long time to come.

Fundamentally this is because:

  • Latin is the (or a) main and most recent root language for many major world languages.
  • Also, for centuries, in fact for two millennia, Latin been a main language of scholarship and academia.

More specifically:

  • Latin has for many centuries been used widely in law. Law is crucial to governance and leadership, society and civilization, diplomacy and international relations, business, trade, and commerce, finance, the military, and therefore so is Latin.
  • Latin has for many centuries been the language of the Christian religion, notably of Roman Catholicism. Christianity became an empire of sorts, which in its own way for centuries effectively ruled most of the world.
  • Latin has for many centuries been a crucial language for all of the sciences, therefore Latin has been crucial also to innovation, invention, exploration, transport, discovery, medicine, health, anatomy, every human and animal condition, and life itself.
  • Particularly related to the above, Latin terminology remains the underpinning language of living things and the biological taxonomy which organizes our understanding of every living thing on the planet.
  • Latin, chiefly via French, had a significant influence in the development of the English language. The conventional English alphabet (along with those of the Romance languages) is known as the Latinate alphabet, because its origins are in ancient Latin. (The 'Romance' languages notably include Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian, and Romanian.)
  • Latin phrases and words have entered (directly and unchanged) the English language, and many other languages too - and the words, rules and structures of Latin have determined - and continue to determine - the way that new words are created.

Latin is obviously vital for the operation of many fundamental professions and disciplines, and for the rest of us, Latin remains fascinating and helpful in the understanding of our day-to-day language, especially the Latin expressions and terminology which survive and arise in business, technical definitions, law, education, grammar, and science, etc.

Here is the listing of Latin terms, including some very common popular phrases, and lots of less common specialized, yet fascinating terminology:

list of latin terms, phrases, and expressions

Latin terms in the English language - technical, legal, popular, fascinating

Latin termliteral translationmeaning in use
abacustray/counting tableancient calculator
ab extra / intrafrom beyond/inside(legal terms) 'ab extra' refers to information from external sources (instead of self or mind) - 'ab intra' refers to information from the self or mind
ab origine / aboriginefrom the firstoriginal inhabitants, from the source, origin, etc - (derivation of the modern word 'aborigine')
ab iratofrom an angry manactions/words by an angry person - (a legal term, similar to 'in the heat of the moment')
ab ovofrom the eggfrom the beginning
absente reo (abs. re.)(with) the defendant being absent(legal term) - in the absence of the accused
a capite ad calcemfrom head to heelthoroughly/completely/from top to bottom - more loosely expressed 'from head to toe'
Achilles (Achilles heel)ancient Greek heroweakness - (a Greek word used in Latin - the metaphor refers to the legend of the hero Achilles, as a baby held by the heel and dipped into the river Styx by his mother Thetis to make him immortal, leaving his heel vulnerable, such that when shot there by an arrow he died, hence the 'Achilles heel' or simply 'Achilles' is a person's main weakness)
acta est fabulathe drama has been acted outit's all over/it's finished/the end
A.D. (anno domini)in the year of the Lorddenotes that the year is since Christ's birth in the Julian and Gregorian calendars - contrasting with B.C. (Before Christ), which signifies years 'Before Christ', which are counted backwards - there is no zero year
ad hocto/for thisimprovised/devised/applied spontaneously or purely for the purpose ('just for this')
a fortioriwith strengthall the more so, with greater reason
ad hominemto the manpersonally directed - (as when criticizing someone)
ad infinitumto infinityendlessly/for ever/without limit
ad interim (ad int)for the meantimein the interim/meantime/temporary/stand-in/
ad lib (ad libitum)with freedomfreely, improvised, spontaneously created - now most commonly an instruction or freedom to 'improvise' in performance, communication
ad litteramto the letterprecisely/according to the 'letter of the law'
ad nauseamto (produce) sea-sicknessto the point of causing nausea/unbearably tedious
a priori / a posteriorifrom what comes before/ after(these terms mainly refer to philosophical or mathematical assertions) - an 'a priori' fact is self-evident, known without need of direct specific experience/evidence (for example 'snow is cold') - an 'a posteriori' fact is based on observed evidence or experience, etc (for example snow fell in Ireland on [a particular date])
ad referendum (ad ref)to/for referringfor further consideration (elsewhere)
ad remto the thingto the matter in hand/directly relevant
adsumI am herepresent (formal answer to a rollcall)
aegrotathe is illdoctor's note - medical excuse/qualification awarded when exams are missed due to sickness
Aesopwriter of fables(see Aesop's Fables)
aetatis (aetat or aet)aged (number of years)aged... or 'of the age...' (precedes the age of someone/something)
affidavithe/she has declared under oatha sworn statement made voluntarily by a person, recorded by a qualified person, usually for legal purposes, such as admission in a court case
agenda (agenda sunt or agendum est)things that must be moved forwardlist of items for a meeting, order of discussion, set of aims, motivational factors - agenda now has a wide range of meanings, after initially referring to a meeting schedule
Aiax/Ajaxhero of Trojan Wara metaphor for size and stength
AlbionBritainthe ancient Greek word for Britain
alia iacta est / iacta alia estthe die is castthe die is cast - beyond the point of possible return, fully committed come what may - see the die is cast and cross the Rubicon in cliches origins - the phrase is attributed to Julius Casear, 49BC, on his invasion of Rome from Gaul - as with many other Latin phrases the 'i' of iacta is alternatively a 'j', so that the word was/is jiacta (although some say Caesar spoke this phrase in Greek anyway..)
alias dictus (alias)at another time calledotherwise known as/also known as/aka
alibielsewherea submission or claim, typically supported by proof/evidence, that an accused person was at a different place from the scene and time of a crime
alieni generisof a different kindof a different kind/of another type
alphaA (the letter)denotes the first of something, for example alpha-male (dominant male), or alpha-test (the initial release of technology/software among developers, prior to finalizing specification/features and beta-test, being final testing among users)
alma maternourishing motherone's college or university
alter egoother self/other Isecondary personality/other self/trusted friend
alumnusnursling/foster childgraduate or student of educational institution (alumna, alumni, alumnae are respectively female, plural and female plural)
a mensa et torofrom table to bedlegal separation (divorce)
amicus curiaefriend of courtan objective or neutral advisor in legal process
amore carenslove withoutloveless
amor vincit omnialove conquers alllove conquers all
amor proximilove one's neighbourlove thy neighbour/love your neighbour (US neighbor)
anno Dominiyear of our Lord(AD)/since BC (before Christ)
annus horribilis/terribilis/ mirabilishorrible/terrible/ wonderful year(different dramatic ways to refer to good/bad years)
ante bellumbefore warpre-war (which war depends on context/situation)
ante meridiem (a.m.)before middaybefore noon/morning/AM/am
apexsummit, crownpeak, top, pinnacle
appendixsupplementsupplement (extra document/body of text/information) - separately in anatomy an obsolete sac in humans connecting to large intestine - from appendere, 'hang upon'
aqua vitaewater of life(metaphorical reference to) a local/national/special drink - (used variously to refer to different drinks, typically local or national or particularly enjoyed from the speaker's view, commonly for example: wine, whisky/whiskey, brandy, ale, etc
arbiterjudge, witnessjudge, controller, arbitrator, umpire
ars gratia artisart for art's sakeart for art's sake - art that is free from non-artistic pressures/aims (e.g., profit, politics, etc)
Artium BaccalaureusArts BachelorBachelor of Arts/AB/BA/(university degree)
Artium MagisterArts MasterMaster of Arts/MA/AM/(higher university degree)
aureo hamo piscarito fish with a golden hook'money talks'/money gets results
Aurora Borealisgoddess of the northern dawnthe 'Northern Lights' atmospheric display, at certain times in the night sky far north - Aurora is the Roman goddess of the dawn - Borealis meaning northen in Latin is taken from the Greek Boreas, god of the north wind - Aurora Australis is literally 'goddess of the southern dawn', and refers to the 'Southern Lights' (being the equivalent phenomenon in the southern hemisphere) - australis means southern in Latin
australissouthernthe origin of the name Australia - from 'terra australis', southern land
ave Mariahail Maryhail Mary
a vinculo matrimonii(free) from the bond of marriagecomplete divorce (sometimes abbreviated to 'a vinculo')
betaB (the letter)notably 'beta-test', referring to the external release (to users) of machinery/technology/software (of completed specification/features) in the final stage of testing - compared with 'alpha-test' which is controlled release among developers aimed at fixing the features/specification prior to beta release
bis in die (b.i.d.)twice in a daymedical abbreviations - (for example instructions for taking tablets)
bona fidegood faithin good faith/honestly/genuine/real
cadit quaestiothe question fallsargument collapses/the central legal argument has collapsed (so move on)
caeteris (ceteris paribus)other things being equalall things equal/other things being equal
campusplain (grassland)university and its grounds
carpe diemseize the dayenjoy the opportunity/make the most of the chance - (the full quote is 'carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero' = 'enjoy today, trusting little in tomorrow' - from Horace's Odes)
casus foederisfall (action) (due to) league/alliancesituation causing action under a treaty
causa sine qua nona cause without which nota necessary condition
cave/cave canembeware/beware of the dogbeware, caution, take care, attention/beware of the dog
caveatlet one bewarea stipulation, condition, warning, exclusion, limit, etc - typically in formal contracts, also in verbal agreements
caveat emptorlet the buyer bewarebuyer beware/responsibility is with buyer
caveat venditorlet the seller bewareseller beware/responsibility is with seller
cerebrumbrainfront part of brain - considered advanced compared with early human brains and additional to animal brains - hence cerebral refers to intellectual rather than emotional or physical thought/behaviour/effect
certiorarito be made certaina writ issued by a higher court for documents from a lower court for the purpose of reviewing the lower court process/decision
cetara desuntthe rest are missingparts of the (written/created) work have not been found (despite research)
ceteris (caeteris paribus)all other things being equalassuming that no external factors alter the central question/point, conditional on there being no effect from variable external elements - (a qualifying statement establishing fixed conditions around a proposition, to enable a firm argument to be made)
citius altius fortiusfaster higher strongermotto of the modern Olympic games  
confer (cf.)comparecompare (with)/see also (as appears widely in dictionaries, etc)
circa (ca. or c.)aroundabout/approximately/roughly (referring to a quantity, date, time, etc)
codextreetrunk/wooden blockmanuscript/code of laws
cogito ergo sumI think therefore I existI think therefore I exist, or I think therefore I am - (originally recorded by French philosopher René Descartes, 1596-1650 - in Discourse on the Method, part IV, 1637-44, written mostly in French but with parts in Latin)
coitus interruptusgoing together interruptionwithdrawal before ejaculation (for contraception or other reason)
coitus more ferarumsex in the way of wild beasts(medical/humorous reference to) 'doggy style' sexual intercourse - historians assert that the expression in its Latin form was used in ancient Rome
compos mentisof sound mindin full possession of mental powers, sane (cf. non compos mentis) 
con (contra)againstagainst
coniunctis / conjunctis viribuswith united powers(acting) with united powers (towards a commonly agreed aim)
consensusagreementagreement (among a number of people) - (note that this word is related to the English word consent, not to census, which misunderstanding often produces the misspelling 'concensus')
consensus adaciumagreement of audacious/rash mena conspiracy
consensus facit legemconsent makes law(a principle that) any agreement between parties may be legally binding provided it does not violate law
consensus gentiumagreement wide/generalwide agreement/generally accepted belief or views
consensus omniumagreement of allagreement of all/general agreement
cornu copiaehorn of plentycornucopia/abundance (from various Greek legends, most popularly: The baby Zeus, hiding from his baby-eating father Cronus, was suckled as an infant by a goat/nursemaid, Amalthea. Zeus, having the strength of a god, accidentally broke off one of Amalthea's horns, which he then endowed with the power to produce unending nourishment (and anything else desired) for its owner
corrigendaitems to be corrected(draws attention to) corrections required in a manuscript before publishing
cui bono/malo?who will gain/lose?who stands to benefit/lose (from a particular action/situation)? - expressions in criminal investigation or other speculation - in attempting to reveal motive/responsibility
cum grano saliswith a grain of salttake (a comment) with a grain of salt/add a note of caution to a comment (in Roman times and more recent history too, salt was very valuable and symbolic of something not to regard lightly - Roman soldiers were paid in salt - salarium - hence the expression 'worth his salt' (someone is worthy of his/her wage)
(summa/magna) cum laudewith (greatest/great) praisetraditionally highest/2nd, and 3rd grades in a US university degree
curriculum vitaethe course of (one's) lifea resume or job/personal history/(commonly abbreviated to CV)
cursorrunner, courierpositional marker on an electronic display
de bonis asportatiscarrying goods away old legal term for larceny, which has largely been superseded by the term theft
de bono et maloof good and bad(of a decision) come what may/for good or bad/'whatever'
decimusa tenthfrom which 'decimate' originates - strictly
de dicto / de reof (the) word / of (the) thing(technical clarification of the nature of a statement so as to differentiate) - the wording of the statement/(as distinct from) the thing that the statement refers to - these are two contrasting terms used in philosophical discussion/works differentiating between the form of the statement and what the statement refers to - (while quite subtle and technical, these two terms are useful in highlighting the difference between the qualities of a statement as distinct from the truth or otherwise of what the statement seeks to convey) - for example many children's statements can be criticized 'de dicto', while being brilliant 'de re' - (note that there are more complex applications of these terms)
de die in diem (diem ex die)from day to daycontinuously/day in, day out/without a break
de factoof factin reality/in practice (especially contrasted with something which exists in in a lesser way theory or in law, see de jure/iure)
dei gratiaby the grace of godby the grace of god (traditionally implying a divine right, such as a monarch's title/status)
de jure (de iure)according to lawexisting legally/legally sanctioned/legally approved
delineavitdrawn by(of a work of art) created by (followed by the artist's name)
delerium tremenstrembling deliriumthe DTs/bodily shaking caused by nervous disorder from alcohol abuse
denarius/denari/denariismall common Roman silver coinin English money history 'D' or 'd' for denarius came to denote pence in pre-decimalisation pounds shillings pence (LSD) - (the denari equated loosely to a labourer's daily pay) - the L and S in LSD also originated from ancient Latin, 'libra' and 'solidus nummus'
deo volente (d.v.)god willinggod willing - if possible
deus ex machinagod out of a machineperson/thing/event which suddenly unexpectedly resolves a problem - also a contrived resolution of a plot in a dramatic work such as a play or film
de nihilo nihilfrom nothing comes nothingnothing comes from nothing/don't expect something to come from nothing
de novoanewanew, refreshed
deperire / depereohopelessly in love(to be) utterly/helplessly/hopelessly in love (with someone/something)
divide et imperadivide and ruledivide your opponents to defeat them (a maxim adopted and popularized by Machiavelli)
doce ut discaslearn by teachingteach in order to learn
docendo discimuslearning by teachingwe learn something by teaching it to others
doctus cum librolearned with a bookhaving knowledge without practical experience
Domine, dirige nosLord, direct usLord/God, direct us (God is our guide) - traditional official motto of London
Dominus vobsicum/Dominus tecumGod be with you (plural)/God be with you (singular)God be with you (all)/God be with you (to an individual) - a traditional way to say farewell or goodbye
dramatis personaethe persons of the dramacast of characters (in a play or film, or situation, etc)
dum spiro sperowhile I breathe, I hopewhile there is life in me I can still hope
dum tacent clamantthough they are silent they cry aloudtheir silence speaks volumes (usually referring to silence being an effective admission or indication of guilt or fault)
dum vita est spes estwhile there is life there is hopewhile there's life there's hope
dura matertough mother(medical/biological term for) the outer membrane of the brain and spinal cord - the Latin term is itself derived from an earlier fuller Arabic term, loosely 'thick mother of the brain'
ecce homobehold the manconsidered by advocates, and represented by artists, of biblical history, as the words of Pontias Pilate in presenting Jesus Christ to the crowd after flagellation prior to crucifixion
ecce signumbehold the signlook at the proof - examine the evidence - the proof is in front of you, so look at it
e contrarioon the contraryon the contrary - actually, the opposite is true
editio cum notis variorumedition with various notesa technical academic/scholar term referring to a version of text which contains different interpretations and notes and comments from experts
editio princepsfirst editionthe first printed edition (of a book especially)
e.g. (exempli gratia)for the sake of examplefor example, or for instance
emeritusa soldier who has served his time honourably/honorably and earned his dischargedenoting the title holder (for example a professor) has retired and retains the title (plus the word 'emeritus') as a mark of having served with distinction - the original meaning derives from soldiers in the Roman army, from the verb 'mereri', to earn
emerita(female form of emeritus)(a relatively modern adaptation of the conventional emeritus male/general form above)
e pluribus unumone out of (from) manyone (big thing) made from many smaller parts - motto of the USA
ergothereforetherefore - and so it follows that.. (linking a cause or situation with a result or conclusion)
errare humanum estto err is humanpeople occasionally naturally make mistakes - popularized by Alexander Pope's 'An Essay on Criticism' which stated 'To err is human; to forgive, divine' - this is an acceptance of human weakness
et al (et alii/et aliae/et alia)and others (abbreviation - male/female/neuter full versions)and other men/women/factors (et al is the abbreviation - et alii is 'and other men'; et aliae is 'and other women'; et alia is 'and other things' - traditionally speech etiquette suggested that "...educated people do not ever actually say 'et al', instead they say 'and others'...")
etc (et cetera)and the restand so on - typically replacing potentially additional items in a listing of similar factors
et nunc et sempernow and for everfrom now on
et seq (et sequentes/sequentia)and the following...usually abbreviated 'et seq' - (or seqq, sqq)
et tu, Bruteyou also, Brutusrealization, acknowledgment, and accusation that an apparent trusted friend or ally is actually an enemy - the expression was popularized by Plutarch's and Shakespeare's telling of the killing of Julius Caesar by conspirators including his previous friend Brutus
et ux (et uxor) / et virand wife / and husband(legal terms meaning) and wife / and husband
ex animofrom the heartsincerely
ex astris scientiafrom the stars, knowledge'From the Stars, Knowledge' - a contrived retrospective Latin expression created as the maxim of the Starfleet Academy in the film/TV franchise Star Trek.
ex cathedrafrom the chairwith authority - refers to statements made by experts, or claimed to be (cathedra referred to a teacher's chair before it more famously meant the Pope's chair)
excud (excudit)he/she who struck this (made by)made by... a traditional printer's or engraver's term preceding the name of the creator/maker/writer
ex dolo malo (ex dolo malo non oritur actio)an action (in court) does not arise from frauda Latin legal term equating to 'fraud' - deriving distortedly from the full original sense that a court action cannot be viable if based on a fraud
excelsiorever upwardever upward
exeatlet him/her go forthpermission to be absent - traditionally an exeat granted permission for a priest to leave a monastery - the term also extended to absence from a university
exempli gratia (e.g.)for the sake of examplefor example, or for instance
ex faciefrom the facea legal term used typically when referring to an obviously unreliable document - the term in this context equates to 'obviously' or 'needing no further examination'
ex gratiaout of goodnesspayment or reward given freely without obligation
exithe/she goes outa single actor leaves the stage
ex librisfrom the booksfrom the library of... (owner's name)
ex mero motuout of pure simple impulsespontaneously - (implication being no external influence)
ex nihilo nihil fitnothing comes from nothingnought comes from nought -
ex partefrom a partyfrom one side only - only one side is represented at a legal hearing (the other side is absent)
ex pede Herculemfrom the foot, a Herculesfrom a small sample the whole thing can be estimated - an early principle of extrapolation or projection, said to derive from Pythagoras' calculations in estimating the size of Hercules from his foot size, in turn inferred from the scale of the Olympia stadium
experto crediteexperience gives credibilitytrust one who has the experience - from experience a person has credibility
ex post factofrom what happens afterwardsknowledge or law after an event applied retrospectively to the event - similar to 'with the benefit of hindsight', or the sense of 'knowing now what we did not know then'
exuent / exuent omnesthey go out / they all go outthey leave the stage - stage direction terminology
ex ungue leonemfrom a claw, the lionfrom a small sample the whole thing can be estimated - equating to ex pede Herculem
ex uno disce omnesfrom one deduce allfrom a small sample the whole thing can be estimated - equating to ex pede Herculem
facta non verbaactions speak louder than wordsactions speak louder than words - judge by deed not what is said
fecit (F.)he/she made (it)made by... (creator's name) - traditional term used by artists/makers - separately F may stand for 'filius', meaning 'son'
felo de sefelon of himselfsuicide
festina lentehasten slowlymore haste less speed
fiat luxlet there be lightlet there be light - (alternatively represented by the rarer Latin 'lux sit')
Fidei Defensor (Fid Def or fd)Defender of the FaithTitle first given to Henry VIII of England by Pope Leo X in 1521. Removed by Rome c.1530 after Henry divorced catholic Catherine of Arragon, and reinistated later in his reign as defender of the protestant faith. The title endures to modern times, shown in official references and on British coins, usually abbreviated FD.
fide et amoreby faith and loveby faith and love
Fidei Defensor (FD)Defender of the Faithtraditional additional title of English/British monarchs, given by the Vatican - often abbreviated to FD
floruit (fl)he/she flourishedwhen a historical character was most productive/active - used in biographical information, especially if birth/death dates are unknown, the 'fl' symbol appears with the year(s) of his/her prominence
fons et origosource and originthe source and origin (of something)
fronti nulla fidesappearance is not reliableappearances can be deceptive - or 'don't judge a book by its cover'
fugit horaflies the hourtime flies - time passes quickly
genius locispirit of the placethe atmosphere of somewhere including its influence on visitors
grammatici certantgrammarians dispute (are disputing)experts are discussing (a case/matter/dispute) - this refers to situations that are subject to official review before a decision or resolution is made
gratias tibi agothank youthank you
habeas corpus(you) shall have the (arrested person's) body in courta legal order for an arrested person to attend court, especially from the accused standpoint, so that unless lawful grounds are offered for detention then the person must be released
hic et nunchere and nowhere and now - immediately, forthwith -for example when demanding immediate payment
hic jacet / iacethere lieshere lies (the body of..) - a tombstone term
hic situs estthis is the placethis is the place
hic sunt dracones / leoneshere be dragons/lionsunchartered territory - these are very old references to unchartered territories, used on maps, and since then popularized in dramatic works
hoc annoin this yearin this year
hoc locoin this placehere
honoris causafor the sake of honour/honordenotes an academic or other qualification given on merit, rather than by official examination
hora fugitthe hour fliestime passes quickly - time is pressing
hora somni (h.s.)at the hour of sleepat bedtime - (medical term)
horribile dictuhorrible to saya warning before telling an awful or upsetting description/report
iacta / jacta alea estthe die is castthe die is cast - the decision/commitment is made and irreversible (see the die is cast in cliches origins)
ianuis / januis clausiswith closed doorsbehind closed doors (referring to a legal hearing or court or meeting)
ibid. (ibidem)in the same placein the same source referenced in the previous entry - (an academic referencing mechanism to save space and unnecessary repeating of the same detail when citing sources)
id. (idem)the samethe same author (as previously referenced) - an academic space-saving device used in citing authors
(i.e.) id estthat is (to say more clearly...)in other words, in more detail, or to say more clearly and fully.. (this very common term is often misused in place of 'e.g.' (for example), whereas 'i.e.' means that clarification of a previous point is to follow
in medias resinto the middle of thingsthe way a dramatic work such as a play or story begins
INRI (Iesus [Jesus] Nazarenus Rex Iudaeoreum [Juaeoreum])Jesus of Nazareth, King of the JewsJesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews -
ignorantia legis neminem excusatignorance of the law does not excuseignorance of the law is no defence/defense for breaking the law
ignorantia non excusatignorance does not excuseignorance is not an excuse (for wrong-doing) - the implication is that a person's moral code should not have to rely on specific instruction to avoid wrong deeds
in absentiain (one's) absencedenotes action against or award to someone in their absence, for whatever reason - for example criminal convictions and academic awards
in aertenumfor everfor ever, in perpetuity
in articulo mortisin the grasp of death(a statement made) at the point of death - traditionally statements made 'in articulo mortis' have at times been considered additionally believable because the person had nothing to gain at that stage from lying - alternative to 'in extremis'
in camerain a chamberin private - typically court/legal proceedings which exclude public and press
incipithere beginsdenoting the start of old/ancient texts
(bis/ter/quater) in die (b.i.d./t.i.d./q.i.d.)(twice/three times/four times) in a daymedical abbreviations - (for example instructions for taking tablets)
in dubio (in dubio pro reo )in doubt, for the accusedthe defendant has the benefit of the doubt - innocent until proven guilty
in essein beingactually existing - contrasting with 'in posse'
in extensoin fullword for word, fully and entirely - referring to a text or paper of some sort, emphasize there has been no edit/removal
in extremisin endat death - at the point of (a person's) death - alternative to 'in articulo mortis' - mostly significant in assessing reliability of statements made by the deceased in relation to a case
in fine (i.f.)in the endat the end of (a stated reference or page, etc)
in flagrante (in flagrante delicto)in flaming crime(caught) in the act (of wrong-doing) - often referring to the discovery of sexual liaisons and adulterous relationships
in foroin forumin court (legal term) 
infrabelow(see note) below - directs readers to explanatory detail below the item concerned, often preceded with 'vide' (see) - infra is also a prefix meaning below, under, beneath, 'sub', lower than, etc (infrastructure, infrared, etc) - broadly contrasting with 'ultra' (beyond/to extreme degree)
infra dignitatem/infra digbelow dignitybeneath (a person's) dignity or normally expected standards, referring to actions or behaviour/behavior
in futuroin futurein the future
in illo ordine (i.o.)in that orderrespectively
in limineon the thresholdabout to happen
in loco parentisin place of a parentguardianship or responsibility for a minor
in media resinto the middle of thingsintroductory statement before telling a story, or a the start of a play
in memoriamin memoryin the memory of - (typically an inscription on a memorial stone or other material)
in ovoin the eggimmature, undeveloped
in pectorein the breastin secret
in perpetuumfor everforever
in plenoin fullin full, complete (typically referring to a payment)
in possepotentiallypotentially - contrasting with 'in esse'
in propria personain personin person, personally
in re (re)in the matter ofregarding - alternatively and more technically in legal matters (the full form 'in re') means that a case is uncontested 
in saecula saeculorumfor ages of agesfor ever and ever
in sein itselfin itself (an alternative to 'per se' - by itself)
in situin placein its natural location (contrasting with 'in vitro' - in glass [a glass test-tube])
instante mense (inst.)in the present month(substitute term for whatever the current month is - (for example "...your letter of 5th inst. refers...) - ult = last (month); prox = next (month)
in statu quoin the state in which(slightly different to 'status quo' - in statu quo refers to a situation at a specified time, relative to a subsequent or prior different situation, rather like saying 'in statu quo [the situation/condition/state] in the 1970s...' or 'in statu quo [the situation/condition/state] before the business was floated...' )
inter aliaamong other thingsamong other things, included in other considerations
inter aliosamong other peopleamong other people, included within a wider groups of people
inter nosbetween usbetween us, among ourselves, between ourselves
inter paresbetween equalsbetween our peer group (of a discussion or circulated notes)
inter sebetween themselvesbetween them, among themselves
inter vivosbetween the living(for example referring to transfer of property) between two living people, (as distinct from a transfer following someone's death)
in totoin totalcompletely, wholly, fully, altogether
in vino veritasin wine the truthpeople speak freely when under the influence of alcohol, alcohol/wine loosens the tongue
in vitroin glassin a test-tube, (developed) in a laboratory or artificial environment - contrasting with 'in situ'
in vivoin life(developed/experimented) in a living thing/organism - contrasting with 'in vitro'
ipsissima verbathe exact wordsverbatim - word for word - (referring to quoted remarks)
ipso factoby that factas a direct immediate consequence of that fact/act
justitia omnibusjustice for alljustice to all, be fair to everyone
lapsus linguaeerror of tongueslip of the tongue, verbal mistake
lapsus memoriaeerror of memorymistaken memory, faulty recollection, remembered wrong
lex locilaw of the placelaw of the land, local jurisdiction
lex non scriptalaw not writtenunwritten law, common law
lex scriptalaw writtenformal written statute
libra (lb and £)balance, set of scales, poundthe origin of the £ pound sterling symbol and pound weight (lb) symbol - libra, meaning a set of weighing scales, (which separately became a sign of the Zodiac) meant a pound in weight, and (via late Middle Ages English) a pound in money (weight and money were directly related), being the origin of the traditional pre-decimalisation 'L' denoting the £ pound-sign in LSD (pounds shillings pence) - the S and D symbols were also derived from ancient Latin money terms - 'solidus nummus' and 'denarius' - separately libra means book (hence 'library')
licetit is allowedit is allowed/permitted/licensed
lis sub judice/iudice (sub judice)lawsuit before the judgecase not yet decided
loco citato (loc. cit.)place cited (work)in the work/place/source previously referenced - (a referencing note used by scholars/writers/academics, to avoid repeating entire sources)
locum tenens (locum)place holding (person)deputy, substitute, temporary replacement (for example of a doctor)
locus classicusplace classic (work)authoritative work/source/extract/text, the generally most highly regarded source (a referencing note referring to a work considered highly authoritative)
locus delectiplace (of) crimescene of the crime, crime scene
locus in quoplace in whichplace in question (where the incident in question happened)
loquitur (loq.)he/she speaks(script note that) a person speaks - (a dramatic/stage direction)
lucri causagain causefor the sake of (monetary) reward/gain/enrichment - in hope of financial reward - 'profit driven' - motivated by money
magister artium (M.A.)master of artsMaster of Arts - university degree - also abbreviated reversed, AM 
magna cum laudewith great praisesecond honors/honours university degree (see cum laude)
magnum opusgreat workthe/a major work of a creative (writer, composer, etc)
majorgreatgreat, significant - major/maior is the Latin comparative of magnus, great
mala fidebad faithin bad faith - fraudulent - (contrasting with 'bona fide')
male captus, bene detentuswrongly captured, properly detained(controversial legal principle asserting that) improper arrest should not prevent proper detention and trial - (the principle is not universally enforceable)
malesuada famespersuaded to evil by hungercrime (that is) produced by hunger - (see Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs)
malo animowith evil intentequating and evolving to the legal phrase 'with malice aforethought'
malum in se / malum prohibitumwrong in itself / wrong according to law(legal terms differentiating that something is) inherently wrong / wrong in law - (for example an ambulance which jumps a red light en route to an accident is committing an offence which is 'malum prohibitum', but not 'malum in se')
mandamuswe command(a legal writ) instruction from a higher court to a lower court
manu propria (m.p.)(signed) by own hand(old rare term indicating that a signature was made) by the signatory's own hand - (where a signature is missing, or a printed document contains a copy of a signature)
mea culpaby my faultI am responsible for the problem - acknowledgment of guilt or blame
mediamiddle (plural)media now means various things in English, notably the news and information industries ('mass media'), and ways or materials for communicating in the broadest sense - the origin is Latin, from the singular word medium, meaning middle, which caused the word to evolve in English to refer to an agency or means of doing something (the sense of a body or mechanism between two parties, acting as a tool, enabler, conduit, translator, communicator)
medicinae doctor (M.D.)doctor of medicinedesignation of a university degree and doctor of medicine, a general practitioner (GP)
membrum virilemember male (reproductive organ)polite term for penis
memo (memorandum est)it must be remembered (that..)a written/audio or other note - (to self or more commonly others in a work group) - a 'memo' was the pre-internet age standard quick recorded paper communication between work people, typically from a manager to subordinates, or fellow-managers or superior staff - before desktop computers, memos were typically hand-written or dictated by managers and typed and copied using carbon paper (pre-1970s), later photocopiers (pre-1990s), by typists/secretaries - these intensive production methods ensured that old-style paper memos were generated and circulated in relatively tiny volumes compared to the billions of modern emails
mens sana in corpore sanosound mind, sound bodysound in mind and body
mirabile dictu/visuwonderful to relate/seeamazingly (to tell/see)
mobile vulgusmovable publicfickle group/people/crowd (referring to the whimsical changing nature and opinions/reactions of the general public or an audience - this is the derivation of the word 'mob')
modus operandiway of workingmethod or process for a task or activity/service
modus vivendiway of livingarrangement between people of differing needs, notably when living or working together, a compromise enabling cooperation
mox nox in remsoon night (so), to business/workdo it, get it done, act now, 'JFDI'
multum in parvomuch in littlemany good things in something small - (a general term for something compact or small which has extensive great qualities)
M M (mutatis mutandis)changed as had to be changedaltered accordingly - (for example referring to changes having been made that were required to meet new circumstances or law)
nemine contradicente ('nem con')no one contradictingunanimously - 'nem con' is a commonly used term in meetings containing votes, where the motion or decision is agreed/passed with no objection (a less common term is 'nemine dissentiente', no one dissenting)
ne plus ultrano more beyondperfection, (at/to) the limit
ne quid mimisnothing in excessnothing to excess
nihil obstatnothing is an obstacleno obstacle, no objection, nothing wrong (so proceed, permit, licence, etc)
nil carborundumThis is false Latin, originating in the British army as a comment on authority/commanders, taken to mean 'Don't let the bastards grind you down', however it is not real Latin. The expression is structured on the basis of the famous quote from Horace's 'Odes', I:vii:27 'Nil desperandum Teucro duce' - 'Do not despair with Teucer as your leader' - there are variations of the expression; all are false Latin) 
nil per os / non per os (n.p.o.)nothing by mouth(medical term) - 'nil by mouth' - no food/drink/anything for this patient to be consumed by mouth
nolens volensunwilling willingwhether willing or not
non compos mentisnot of sound mind not in possession of full mental powers, mentally unstable/unreliable, (less formally) not thinking straight, contrasting logically with 'compos mentis'
non liquet(it is) not provenlegal term meaning that a judgment is not possible due to legal ambiguity or inadequacy - also interpreted to mean 'not clear' and 'not evident'
non obstantenotwithstandingnotwithstanding, nevertheless, in spite of
non prosequiturhe does not proceedjudgment in favour/favor of a defendant when the plaintiff fails to act within a legal time limit
non sequiturit does not followa statement/conclusion which is not actually proven or demonstrated by the preceding evidence/argument/justification - an inadequately supported claim
nota bene (N.B.)note wellnote well, take note, attention - (introducing and emphasizing what follows)
nudum pactuma nude pactinvalid agreement - (legal term for a contract made with insufficient financial or other consideration, so making it non-binding and unenforceable)
nunc pro tuncnow for thenretrospective, back-dated, retroactive (referring to the effective date or application of an agreement or contract or award, etc)
obiter dictum/dictaincidental remark/remarksan incidental/aside remark by a judge having no effect on the matter in hand, but which may influence future related issues
oculus dexter (O.D.) / oculus sinister (O.S.)right eye / left eyeabbreviations used by Ophthalmology (medical attention for eyes)
olet lucernam(it) smells of the lampa negative assessment of a creative work for having taken too long to produce, or being over-worked (the metaphor referring to working late through the night and 'burning the midnight lamp')
omnia vincit amorlove conquers alllove conquers everything
onus probandithe burden of provingthe burden of proof
opere citato (op. cit.)in the work citedreferencing term used where a work has previously been referenced, so avoiding the need for repeating the entire reference source
opus magnuma great workreverse version of 'magnum opus'
pace tua (pace)by your leavewith respect to (... other[s] with an opinion that the speaker is about to criticize/contradict) - with your permission
pari passu(at) equal pacereferring to two or more tasks conducted in the same timescales
pari rationefor like reason(and so for) the previous/same reason given... (some sort of action or decision is taken)
particeps criminispartner (in) crimeaccomplice (in a criminal act)
pass. (passim)throughoutthroughout
paucis verbis(in) few wordsbriefly
pax vobiscumpeace be with youpeace be with you
pendente lite(while the) legal case is pendingthe case is undecided (so comment is not possible)
per annumby the yearannually, (rate) for a year
per capitaby the headfor each person, individually
per centum (percent)by the hundredrate for a hundred
per contrafor the oppositeon the other hand, conversely,
per diemby each daydaily, day-rate
per mensemby each monthmonthly
per procurationem (P.P. or per pro)to take care ofP.P. denotes that a signature in a document, usually at the end of a letter, is that of an assistant or secretary, on behalf of the writer/sender of the letter - (precise position of usage varies, either before the assistant's signature, or before the name of the official signatory/writer)
per seby itselfintrinsically, exclusively, specifically
persona grataperson pleasingwelcome guest, approved individual
persona non grataperson not pleasingunwelcome guest, barred/banned individual
placet(it) pleasesyes, approved, agreed
plebeius (plebs)the common people(insulting term for) the lower classes (implying a lack of taste, intelligence, breeding, refinement, etc)
posse comitatus (posse)power of a countya posse, group of volunteers - (this is the derivation of the word 'posse' - originally a group of men, over age fifteen, assembled from a county, for a lawful purpose - 'posse' was literally 'be able'; comitatus was county)
post cibum (p.c.)after food(medical term/instruction) - after eating
post hoc, ergo propter hocafter this, therefore (it is assumed) because of this(acknowledgment of) the potentially flawed logic in assuming a causal link between a situation/event and one which follows it (usually in the absence of any better information)
post meridiem (pm)after noonafternoon, evening (see 'ante meridiem', [am])
post mortemafter deathautopsy, examination of corpse to determine case of death
post mortem auctoris (p.m.a.)after the death of the authorlegal term typically used in connection with intellectual property rights - (for example copyright generally expires a given period after the creator's death)
post script (PS)after writinga footnote written after the preceding message but before sending, PS
prima facieat first sightat first appearing, on initial evidence - (a legal term referring to initial yet potentially or arguably sufficient evidence)
pro bono publico (pro bono)for the public goodfor the public good
pro formafor form (formality)as a matter of formality, a standard document - (originally in law a formal process which did not necessarily serve practical purpose, and this sense evolved top extend to documents, and then to standard documentation)
pro partein part(typically referring to) part of (a group)
pro rata/rateby rateproportionately, in proportion - (in the same ratio, whether less or more)
pro sefor oneselfto defend oneself in court without formal legal representation - alternatively 'pro per'
pro tempore (pro tem)(for) temporarilytemporarily, for the while, a temporary situation, replacement, etc
punctatimin pointspoint by point
QED (quod erat demonstrandum)which was to be demonstratedproof/evidence has been provided as intended - this is the proof - (traditionally appended to a mathematical solution)
quantumamounta required or allowed quantity - (for example a debt payable) - also used in various latin phrases to mean 'as much as' - more scientifically quantum in physics means: 'a discrete quantity of energy proportional in magnitude to the frequency of the radiation it represents'
quid nunc?what now?what now? - also the derivation of the traditional English word 'quidnunc', meaning a gossip or overly inquisitive person
qui docet discitwho teaches learnsa good way to learn something is to teach it to someone else
quid pro quosomething for something (else)something which is given in return for another thing - (loosely refers to an exchange, a reciprocal arrangement, an agreed deal or swap, in the same spirit as 'you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours'
quieta non moveredon't move the settledleave settled things to be - let sleeping dogs lie
qui scribit bis legitwho writes, twice readswriting something is more memorable than merely reading it - i.e. if you write something you will will remember it better than simply reading it - (a learning/teaching method and maxim)
qui tacet consentitwho is silent consentsremaining silent or failing to respond may be taken as agreement - the concept has real practical effect, and also to a degree influence in legal situations too
quod erat demonstrandum (QED)which was to be demonstratedproof/evidence has been provided as intended - this is the proof - (traditionally appended to a mathematical solution)
qoud est (q.e.)which iswhich is
quod vide (q.v.)which seesee (for explanation, clarification, comparison, or interest a relevant cross-referenced point - (most commonly abbreviated, 'q.v.', in scholarly/academic works - the term essentially directs a reader to more detail elsewhere in the same work about the word/phrase given with 'q.v.')
quorumof whoma specified minimum number of members, directors or delegates, etc., required for an official assembly (such as a parliament or council or board of directors or committee member, etc) to be able to conduct its affairs, for example take votes and make decisions - the term entered English in the 15th/16th century, from the full Latin phrase used at the start of commissions for committee members, "quorum vos ... unum esse volumus," loosely meaning, "of whom we specify that ... be one"
rara avisrare birdan unusual thing of person - the derivation of the metaphor 'rare bird' - (first recorded and popularized in Latin by Juvenal, in Satires, vi:165 - "rara avis in terris nigroque simillima cygno" - "a rare bird in the lands, and very like a black swan")
ratum et consummatumconfirmed and completed(in church law) a consummated marriage - a marriage that has not yet been consummated is merely 'ratum tantum' (confirmed only, and can be dissolved, 'super rato'
rethingregarding, concerning, relating to... (the term precedes the name of a subject which is to be discussed or described, etc - from the full Latin form 'res', 'thing')
rebus sic stantibusthings thus standingas things/matters stand, in the current situation - (normally a legal statement prefacing the fact or assertion that a point of law remains effective or in force
recto / versoright / leftright/left pages of a book - from the full forms 'recto folio' and 'verso folio' 'on the right leaf' and 'on the left leaf'
regnat populusruling peoplethe people rule
regina/rexqueen/rexdenoting the queen/king or crown, notably in legal cases equating to the state versus another party, e.g., Regina v. Smith
requiescat in pace (R.I.P.)(may he/she) rest in peacerest in peace (singular) - the plural (may they rest in peace) is 'requiescant in pace'
res ipsa loquiturthe thing itself speaksself-evidently, obviously, the facts/circumstances speak for themselves - (a legal term referring to self-evident proof of something)
salus populi suprema lex estothe good of the people is the supreme lawpeople's welfare must come first (in governance and business, etc) - the expression is translated in various similar ways, and used as a maxim/motto by many civil/state/services authorities to mean that the priority of governance is the health/needs of ordinary people ('the greater good') - the expression origin is usually attributed to Roman philosopher and politician Cicero's work De Legibus (bk III: III; viii), as 'Ollis salus populi suprema lex esto'.
salvo errore et omissione (s.e.e.o.)save for error and omissiontraditional caveat (as would be inserted by a bookkeeper or auditor) featuring in formal statements of financial accounts
scientia est potentiaknowledge is powerknowledge is power
scilicet (scire licet)one is permitted to knownamely, that is to say, i.e. - prefaces an explanation or clarification - scilicet is the Latin abbreviated form of scire licet
scripsit/sculpsithe/she wrote it/carved itdenoting author/sculptor - the term appears after the writer's name on the work
semper fidelis/idemalways faithful/the same (thing)always faithful/always the same or unchanging
sensu lato / sensu strictomeaning wide / tightin the wide sense / in the strict sense
seq. (sequens, sequentes, or sequitur)the followingthe following - to introduce a remark or list, like the words: 'as follows' - the word sequitur has the additional alternative meaning: 'it follows logically', or 'therefore'
seriatimin (a) seriesone of a series, part of/in a series - a scholarly or technical academic term referring to a published work which is part of a series
sicthus, soas used/written originally - denotes that the word or phrase which precedes 'sic' is quoted exactly as originally used/written/spelled by the quoted source - typically used within a quoted passage or extract to indicate that a misspelling or poor grammar or wrong word was in the source material
sine diewithout a dayuntil an unspecified time/date/day, no date has been set (for another meeting or resumption) - typically referring to the status of discussions/meetings, that there is no date agreed for further action
sine loco (s.l.) / sine anno (s.a.) / sine nomine (s.n.)without place / date / without a namewithout place / date /author or publisher - normally referring to a referenced book or paper for which place / date of publication / author or publisher are unknown - (these terms may becombined with the word 'et', and, for example 'sine loco et anno', without place and date
sine morawithout delaywithout delay
sine prole without childrenchildless, no children, or the legal term 'without issue' - often referring to a deceased person who had no offspring
sine qua nonwithout which notan absolutely necessary requirement or condition, an indispensable factor
solidus nummus(Roman) solid coinin English money history the S in LSD (pounds shillings pence) derived from the Roman coin 'Solidus' (prior to 1387 in English translations shown as 'Solidy', and also shown more recently in English as 'Solidi' and 'Solidii', being Latin plural versions) - the Solidus was originally an Imperial Roman coin introduced by Constantine (c.274-337AD), so called from the full Latin 'solidus nummus', meaning solid coin - the L and D in LSD also derived from Latin terms 'libra' and 'denarius'
socius criminispartner criminalpartner in crime, accomplice
sponte sua/sua sponteof own accordself-determining, voluntarily
stare decisisstand by decided thingsuphold previous ruling/decision - apply precedent
status quosituation in whichcurrent situation, normality, conditions unchanged
status quo antesituation in which wassituation as was/before (an event)
stereosolidhi-fi system or reproduced sound of at least two speakers/channels - initially adopted into English referring to a surround-sound effect, evolving to mean two different channels combining to produce a double-sided sound effect
stetlet it standa proof reading/editing term which instructs the printer or designer to ignore the edit in question - (equating to an instruction to reinstate the original part, i.e., before the edit - for example to reverse the crossing out or alteration of a word) - stet is from the Latin word stare, stand
sub judice/sub iudiceunder a judgeunder consideration by a judge/court (and therefore not to be discussed or published - this refers to a legal case or facts within a case, and seeks to avoid any influence or prejudice on the process
sub nomineunder the name (of)refers to the name of the person/party taking action - 'in the name of'
sub poenaunder penaltya writ requiring a person to appear in court - originally fully under penalty of a fine/imprisonment/etc., so that the potential punishment would appear after the words sub poena, which is nowadays usually rendered as a single word, subpoena
sub rosaunder the rosein secret, behind closed doors, privately - (referring to proceedings of some sort - the legal term is an old metaphor based on the rose being once a symbol of secrecy)
sub verbo (s.v.)under the wordunder the word/heading, a referencing term directing the reader to information contained beneath the word entry or heading in question elsewhere in the publication, for example as in a dictionary - used as 's.v. [word/heading]' = see the information under [word/heading]'
sui generisof its own kindunique, in a class/classification of its own, utterly distinctive and original
sui juris/iurisof his/her own volitionable to take responsibility - equating to asserting that a person was legally responsible for his/her action
summasummarytraditional term for the summary of a subject in a printed/text work
summa cum laudewith highest distinction/praisehighest distinction (referring to a university degree qualification award) - see 'cum laude' and 'magna cum laude', respectively the 3rd and 2nd highest grades
suo jure/iurein (one's/its) own rightindependently, in one's/its own right
suo moto/temporeby own motion/in own timespontaneously/in one's or its own time
supra/vide supraabove/see abovesee above - scholarly technical term simply directing the reader to the text above
terra firmafirm landsolid earth, dry land (as different to the sea or waters or air) - typically referring to being safely or surely on land, for example 'back on terra firma' (after a plane or sea journey, or parachute leap)
usus est magister optimuspractice is the best teacherpractice makes perfect
ultra viresbeyond the powersbeyond (one's/its) legal powers - typically legally referring to a court or official body which acts outside of its limits/authority
ut infra/supraas below/aboveas below/above - citing/referencing terms
varia lectio/lectionesvariant reading/readingsan alternative way(s) of reading/interpreting a document or work
variorumof various peopledenoting comments/interpretations by various people, or denoting a publication which contains different interpretations/readings of the original work - consequently a variorum or variorum edition refers to a publication which provides variant readings/interpretations of, and comments by different scholars on, a work of some sort
veni, vidi, viciI came, I saw, I conqueredvictory was easy - a confident claim of a supposedly simple speedy triumph, attributed to Julius Caesar telling of his defeating Pharnaces, King of Pontus, 47BC (not his invasion of Britain as some believe) - according to Seutonius this motto was carried ahead of Caesar's advancing forces in subsequent campaigns, mainly to emphasize the speed of victory - in modern renderings the claim may also imply nonchalance, casualness, ease, arrogance, etc
verbi gratia ( or VG)for the sake of a wordfor example
versus (vs., V)againstagainst, between - usually when matching or comparing two competing things, enemies, arguments, etc
vetoI forbidto disallow or prevent something - (or noun form) the act of forbidding something or refusing permission
viaa wayby way of, a way, a path/road, passing through, connecting
via mediamiddle waythe middle path - (compromise, moderation)
vice versain-turned positionconversely, the other way around, reversed, exchanged
victor ludorum/victrix ludorumwinner of the gamesmale/female sport champion - the term is also used as a name of a trophy awarded to a winner or an event
videseesee.. (something/somewhere) - used in referencing and elsewhere
videlicet (viz.)permitted to seenamely, to wit
vis inertiaepower of inactionpower of inertia - a much under-rated strategic concept by which the impulse to react to provocation/threat is resisted - and instead a positive decision is made to take no action - which can produce surprisingly better results than reacting aggressively and quickly without much thought for the consequences - the notion of 'vis inertiae' recognizes the fact that often provocative/threatening situations tend to subside or implode, as history commonly tells
viva vocewith living voiceorally - typically refers to an oral/spoken examination
vixithe/she lived...he/she lived (for a number of years) - common gravestone term
vox pop (vox populi)voice of the peoplecomments from the general public, public opinion - 'vox pops' is now a common media term referring to impromptu interviews with members of the public
ultrabeyondto extreme degree - broadly contrasting with 'infra', below/lower than


Contact us if you can suggest an additional phrase/expression for the above collection.


some interesting Latin place names

Several ancient Latin placenames survive into modern times with similar or related meanings. Here are some examples, together with other Latin names that are interesting in their own right, if not surviving at all.

Aquae SullisBath
LibyaNW Africa
Magnus PortusPortsmouth
VectisIsle of Wight


Latin numbers featuring in English words

Latin numbers feature originally in many English words. Here are the main examples. The key elements are those which most commonly arise in English words. These meanings are helpful for understanding unfamiliar words which contain these elements. (Note that the months of the year were named when the calendar contained only ten months.)

#cardinalordinalEnglishkey element
7septem septimussevensept
9novem nonusninenov/non


Roman Latin numerals

Roman numerals used symbols from the Latin alphabet, and are still used today in traditional/official/dramatic works, and on clocks and watches. There are differing and unproven views as to the original shapes and evolution of these symbols. The simplest theories are that the symbols represented hand signals (Alfred Hooper, 1945, whereby 1-4 = fingers; V = thumb, plus fingers; X = two crossed thumbs) or separately they are notches or cuts in tally sticks (surviving traditionally in parts of Europe today), so that 1-4 = single cuts; 5 = double cut; 10 = cross-cut. Beyond these propositions other concepts are too complex to summarise here. The C and M symbols were likely later influenced by the Latin word equivalents, centum and mille. The numbering system operates according essentially to the basic rules that:

  • letters may be repeated up to three times (which represents three times the number); the exception is that IIII is valid as 4, although IV is far more usual
  • symbols right are added; left are subtracted; only single figures may be subtracted - for example 79 = LXXIX
  • the subtracted figure must be no less that one tenth of the larger figure - for example IX = 9, but IC is not a valid expression of 99 (instead properly 99 is XCIX) - another way to understand this rule is that left-positioned/subtracted figures must always be the next smallest unit, i.e., you can't subtract a I (1) from a L (50), or a V (5) from a C (100), etc.
  • a bar above a figure = 1,000 greater
X  10


a very brief history of Latin..

Latin is the language of ancient Rome, whose empire covered most of Europe around the beginning of the first millennium, and particularly the period of the Roman Empire's strongest dominance, c.300BC-300AD.

The Latin language of the Roman civilization was derived from the much older main Proto-Indo-European language (PIE), dated as far back as the 10th millennium BC, extending from the Indian sub-continent through Europe (hence its name - proto means first, see proto), coinciding with the basic colonization of European lands, although precise history of this remains subject to much debate and ongoing research. Nevertheless, Proto-Indo-European is considered to be the fundamental root language of all European languages and is certainly the root of Latin.

Linguistic history suggests that by around the 3rd millennium BC the Proto-Indo-European (PIE) language had diverged into separate branches.

One of these branches became early or ancient Latin, established in the Italian peninsular (i.e., modern Italy).

(Incidentally Latin was influenced by the older ancient Greek language, which also evolved from PIE, and which subsequently characterized the later Eastern Roman or Byzantine Empire until the 1400s, following the disintegration of the Roman/Western Roman Empire by 480AD. This explains separately the significance and prevalence of Greek in the etymology of many modern languages such as English.)

Having become a little local language in central western Italy (as was towards the end of the first millennium, and which became Rome) Latin simply grew and spread with the awesome development and power of Roman Empire, prior to which, and without which, Latin was was and would likely have remained, a minority language, and might not have survived at all.

In fact Latin obviously failed to survive as a living language, but it has survived and become arguably the world's most significant 'dead' language, because it was so embedded in governance and science and education, that the world could not function and develop without it.

see also