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The meaning and origin of the expression: Latin Phrases

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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 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 (More literally translated as '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', that is, 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).

Persona non grata 

An unacceptable or unwelcome person, especially a foreign diplomat.

Post partum


After childbirth.

Praemonitus, praemunitus 

Forewarned is forearmed.

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, that is, a favour for a favour.

Quo vadis?


Where are you going?

Rigor mortis


The rigidity of death.

Semper fidelis


Always faithful.

Sine qua non



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.

See also - French phrases in English.