You must have heard them, maybe once or twice. They are usually used by individuals in the academia, your fellow colleagues, your lecturers, or even in your philosophy classes. All that goes through your mind when you hear them is ‘what’s the meaning of this?” or “are they trying to feel intelligent?” Even sometimes, you use them so that you can be considered as one who is also conversant with them. Well, I am very sure you are wondering what this person is trying to say. Without doubt, I am talking about Latin words. They have been injected into our familiar languages and most times we find ourselves at a loss when they are used. Its either we don’t know their literal meanings or we don’t know why the individual is using them at that particular time.

Here is a list of Latin words and their literal meanings that will give you an edge in any situation be it listening to an ordinary conversation, intellectual lecture or even when having a discussion.

Ab ovo From the beginning
Ad nauseam to the point of disgust
Addendum something to be added, usually in writing,
Carpe Diem seize  the day
Caveat Emptor let the buyer beware
Cognomen surname, family name- nick name
Corgito ergo sum I think therefore I am
Curriculum Vitae (CV) ‘the course of life’; account of a person’s education and previous employment, attached to a job application.
De facto in fact
Erratum an error
Factotum do everything- someone employed to do everything
Fiat let it be done
In loco parentis in place of a parent/ in parental capacity
Inter alia among other things
Ipso facto by that very fact
Literati educated or cultured
Magnum opus a great work of art or literature
Mea culpa my fault (admission of guilt)
Modus operandi a method of operating
Modus Vivendi way of living
Mutatis mutandis with changes being made
Ne pus ultra no further limit, the furthest point possible
Nil desperandum never despair
Post scriptum (PS) something written below the signature on a letter
Postmortem ‘after death’; autopsy
Prima facia at first sight
Pro tem (pore) for the time being
Quantum as much, how much’; an indivisible physical quantity
Quid pro quo something for something
Quo Vadis? Where are you going?
Sine qua non ‘without which not’- absolutely essential
Status quo ‘the state in which’- the current situation, without change
Tabula rasa scraped tablet- a mind without any preconceived ideas
Tempus fugit Time flies
Vade Mecum Go with me – useful handbook carried about for reference
Vice Versa The other way round

By Stella Emenike




  1. Really love this and i would love to get more pls,and that should be the ones that will be good for “cold mixing” and”cold switching”

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