Although it is considered a dead language, the imprint of Latin has been embodied in many expressions and set phrases, both for everyday use and for worship. Almost without realizing it, we have incorporated into our vocabulary many Latin phrases that have been preserved intact since they were coined centuries ago.
For this reason, we are going to review some of the most outstanding, with their respective definition and providing, as examples, phrases in which we can include them.
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50 Latin phrases to enrich vocabulary
The following Latin phrases can be heard in an informal conversation or used in disciplines such as Law, where these types of expressions abound.
Be that as it may, it is a good time to get acquainted with a language whose legacy has been so rich. 1. Ad finem
We begin with a Latin phrase that means just the opposite: ad finem means “at the end” or “until the end.”
“I stayed by his side ad finem.” 2. Ad hoc
This Latin phrase is used to refer to an issue that has been made expressly for a specific purpose. Whenever it means “for this”, “on purpose for”, we can use ad hoc.
“We didn’t have a teacher to watch over us during the exam and the rector had to come ad hoc”. 3. Alea iacta est
When Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon River with his entire army, he improvised this Latin phrase that has survived to this day. Its meaning is “the die is cast”.
“A: How did the exam go
? B: By telling you that I couldn’t study the whole lesson… So let’s go.” 4. Alias
Refers to the nickname or nickname by which a person is known, in addition to the nickname.
“I use an alias to browse social media to protect my identity.”
In some places, alias is still listed as a deprecated expression, meaning “otherwise.” 5. Alma mater
If literal meaning is “nurturing mother” and is used to designate metaphorically, the university or institution in which a person studied.
However, this is one of those Latin phrases that can mislead : ‘soul’ in this case does not refer to a person’s anima (noun), but comes from almus, a feminine adjective that in Latin means “that nourishes ”.
This can lead to a use that, although popularly accepted, is originally wrong: we cannot refer to a person who promotes an idea or project as an alma mater.
- Wrong : “Mark Zuckerberg is the alma mater of Facebook.”
- Correct : “The University of Barcelona is my alma mater. I studied there.”
6. Alter ego
It is used to refer to a person with whom we have a lot of trust, or someone (real or fictitious) with whom one identifies .
“Spider-man’s alter ego is Peter Parker.”
“Daniel tells Guillem everything, he is his alter ego”. 7. Annus horribilis
Literally, “the anus of horrors” or “horrible anus.” As you can imagine, this is not one of those Latin phrases that exude special optimism.
“What a streak I’m on! Without a doubt this is an annus horribilis”. 8. Annus mirabilis
Quite the opposite of the previous case: “anus of wonders” .
“He has a good job, new car, new clothes and just got divorced, what an annus mirabilis he is living!”9. A priori
“Before” or “prior to”, but it can also be used as a synonym for “in principle”.
“We should not rush to conclusions a priori if the facts have not yet been judged.” 10. A posteriori
This Latin phrase means “from the later” and is used for everything that happens after a certain event to which it alludes.
“It’s very easy to say what you would have done after the accident.” 11. Ars gratia artis
“Art for art’s sake”, “art for the grace of art” or “art for art’s sake”. Any of these three variants evokes the artist’s freedom of creation , a slogan widely heard during the bourgeois revolution.
“A film director does not have to be obliged to please the public if they do not want to. Ars gratia artis, my friend.” 12. Audentes fortuna iuvat
Some Latin phrases belong to great works, like this one, taken from The Aeneid, by the writer Virgil, which translated into our language is: “fortune smiles on the brave”
“If you don’t risk a little you will never win anything, remember: audentes fortune iuvat”. 13. Ave Caesar, morituri te salutant
In the arena of the Colosseum in Rome it was common to hear this proclamation that the gladiators and fighters who were going to fight for their lives dedicated to Caesar, who was going to see them die from his box.
“Spartacus and the other warriors looked up and shouted: ‘Hail, Caesar, those who are going to die salute you!'”14. Beard non facit philosophum
Something like “the beard does not make the philosopher” or “to be a philosopher you need something more than a beard”.
Undoubtedly, an ideal Latin phrase for these days of disinformation, in which anyone believes that they can be misunderstood on a subject just for having read four biased pieces of information on a social network.
“What a piece of bullshit you just blurted out. Definitely, barba non facit philosophum…” 15. Bona fide
Designates the quality of something that is done in good faith or without bad intentions. It is part of the Latin phrases that we find in law and in legal texts.
“During a trial, each party is expected to act bona fide.”
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