Latin Expressions


ad absurdo: in an argument “from the absurd”, pointing out the weakness
of an opposing position.

ab initio: “from the beginning.”

ab urbe condite: “from the foundation of the city” (of Rome, traditionally in 753 B.C.); also as anno urbis conditae, “year since the city ( of Rome) was founded”. Used by the ancient Romans to date years in their history. Abbreviated A.U.C.

Ad hoc: “for this” (purpose)

ad hominem: “against the man”, in argument, attacking the person and not his argument.

Ad infinitum: “endlessly, forever”. Abbreviated ad inf. or ad infin.

Ad interim: ” in the meantime”; abbreviated ad int.

Ad libitum: “at pleasure”; extemporaneously abbreviated  ad lib.

ad locum: “at or to the place” (usually in reference to a previous citation). Abbreviated ad loc.

Ad quem: “for or to which (or whom)”

adrem: “to the thing” at hand, i.e. pertinent.

Ad valorem: “in proportion to value”. Abbreviated ad val.

a fortiori: “with stronger” reason.

Anno Domini: “in the year of the Lord”. Abbrev. A.D.

Anno mundi: “in the year of the world”. Abbrev. A.M.

Anno regni: “in the regnal year” Abbrev. A.R.

Annus mirabilis: “a remarkable year”

ante bellum: “before the war”

ante Christem: “before Christ”. Abbreviated A.C.

a posteriori: “from what is after”, or from effect to cause.

Apparatus criticusor, simply apparatus: scholarly commentary.

a priori: “from what is before”, or from what is already known.

Bone fide: “in good faith”

circa: “around” or approximately. Abbrev. ca. or c.

confer: “compare”; abbrev. cf. (The full Latin word is never used in English).

Corpis juris:(or juris): “body of law”

cui bono?: “who benefits?”, or who stands to gain.

Cum grano salis: “with a grain of salt”, or cautiously.

De facto: “from the fact”, or in reality.

De jure: (or jure): “according to law”.

Deus ex machine: ” a god from a machine” or an unlikely, providential intervention.

Disiects (or disjecta) membra: “scattered limbs” or fragments.

dramatis personae: “a person of the drama” or cast of characters.

A contrario: “on the contrary”

editio princeps: “first edition” of an ancient text

ergo: “therefore”

erratum: (pl. errata): “error(s)”

et al.: abbreviations for et alii, et aliae, et alia. Meaning “and others”.

Etc.: abbreviation of et cetera “and so on”.

Ex cathedra: “from the chair” or with authority.

exempli gratia: “for the sake of example”. Abbrev. E.g.

Ex more: “according to custom”

ex officio: “by virtue of an office”

ex post facto: “from what is done afterwards”

fecit: “he/she made (it)”, in a signed work of art

finis: “the end”

flourit: “he/she flourished”, in giving an approximate date. Abbrev. Fl.

Honoris causae: “for the sake of honor”

ibidem: “in the same place”, of a work cited immediately before this reference. Abbrev. ibid.

idem: “the same”, meaning the same person referred to in the note immediately proceeding.

Id est: “that is”, abbrev. i.e.

In camera: “in a chamber” or in closed session.

Incipit: “here begins..”

In extenso: “in full” or word-for-word .

In extremis:”at the point of death”

infra: “below”

in medias res: ” in the middle of (some)thing”

in pectore: “in the breast” or secretly.

In re: “in the matter of”, or concerning..

In situ: “in place”, where something was found.

In toto: “in totality”

ipsissima verba: “the very words”

ipso facto: “by the very fact”

loco citatio: “at the place cited”, abbrev. Loc. Cit.

locus classicus: “the classic source” or the best example.

Me judiceor just judice: “in my judgement”

mirabile dictu: “wonderful to relate” expressing astonishment or irony

modus opperandi: “manner of working”

ne plus ultra: “not more beyond” or perfection

nota bene: “note well”, abbrev. N.b.

Opere citato: “in the work cited”, abbrev. Op. Cit.

peri passu: “at an equal pace”

passim: “at various places” thus usually referring to an entire work.

Prima facie: “at first sight”

pro forma: “as a formality”

quod erat demonstrandum: “which was to be demonstrated”; abbrev. Q.E.D.

quod erat faciendum: “which was to be done”, abbrev. Q.E.F.

quod vide: “(for) which see”, abbrev. Q.v.

Recto: “right (side)”, meaning the front of a document; cf. Verso.

Reductio ad absurdum: “reduction to absurdity”

sequens/ sequentes: “the following” abbrev. Seq./seqq.

Seriatim: “in series”

sic: “thus”, used to draw attention to an error in the source quoted.

S.P.Q.R. = Senatus popolusque Romanus “the Senate and People of Rome” used in official pronouncements of the Roman state.

Sui generis: “of its.his/hers/their own kind” or distinctive.

Supra: “above”.

Sub verbo: “under the word” referring to a subject heading. Abbreviated s.v.

Terminus: “fixpoint”, combined with a quo: “from which” something happened; ante quem: “before which” something happened; post quem        “after which something happened”

ut: “as (cited)”, combined with supra and infra.

Vade mecum: “go with me” usually as a noun meaning guidebook

verso: “the back” of a document; cf. Recto.

Vide: “see” sometimes combined with infra or rupra; cf. Q.v.

Videlicet: “it is permitted to see”, meaning “namely”. Abbrev. Viz.