5 common Latin expressions

November 18th, 2009 by Emily

Here are five common Latin expressions that English tutors will need to explain to their GCSE and A-level students:

Etc. - Possibly the most commonly used of the expressions on this list; etc. is a shortened form of the Latin phrase 'et cetera', meaning 'and the rest'. It is commonly used in English to finish a self-evident list.

The house had the usual selection of rooms, bed, bath, kitchen, etc.

N.B. - This is short for nota bene or 'note well' in English. It is used to direct attention to a key phrase or instruction within the text and is especially common in instructive texts.

Remove the cake from the tin with a palette knife. N.B. Children will need supervision for this step.

i.e. - Id est is another Latin adoption, in this case meaning 'that is'. In English this is interpreted most frequently as 'in other words' and is used to clarify points within a text and for exhaustive lists of examples.

My working hours are 9 to 5, i.e. 35 hours per week.

e.g.- A shortened version of exempli gratia; 'for example' in English. It is used to introduce non-exhaustive examples. The original phrase is taken directly from Latin.

We have many dance classes available, e.g. waltz, salsa and disco.

Sic - Latin for 'thus' or 'in such a manner'. In English usage it is placed within a reproduced text in square brackets and italicised [sic]. It is used to highlight an uncommon spelling or usage, or draw deliberate attention to an erroneous spelling, deliberately copied from a source text.

The House of Representatives shall chuse [sic] their speaker.

Q.E.D. - quod erat demonstrandum meaning 'which had to be proven' in Latin is often placed at the end of mathematical or philosophical proofs to denote that the conditions set to be demonstrated have been met.

Categories: English