5 Commonly Misused Latin Words or Phrases
As fast as we are able to speak, write, or sign, language continues to evolve. One of the most fantastic examples of this is the Latin language.
Although considered a dead language, Latin is still very much alive today. It has influenced many of the languages spoken around the world, including the romance languages and even English. Used by students and scholars from the sciences to philosophy, Latin is still taught in many schools around the world. Even choice Latin words or phrases are used in the presence of another language to offer a subtle turn of phrase in order to convey an idea, thought, or even settle a legal matter.
Discover 5 of the most common Latin words or phrases that are often misused used by English speakers and writers:
The Latin phrase exempli gratia (meaning: for the sake of example or for example) is abbreviated e.g. and is often followed by a comma (depending on the style) because it’s a parenthetical phrase. Also, e.g. should not include every possible scenario, only a sampling.
George is a huge fan of cyborgs, e.g., the Terminator, Inspector Gadget, and Robocop.
Commonly confused for the abbreviation e.g., i.e. is the abbreviation for the Latin phrase id est (meaning: that is) and not “in example.” Similar to the abbreviation e.g., i.e. is followed by a comma and it indicates a complete list, an explanation, or defines the previous part of the sentence.
Standing behind a horse can result in broken ribs, i.e., you’re more likely to get kicked.
The Latin phrase per se (meaning: by itself or through itself) may be just two little words, but the combination has big implications. Commonly used in legal terms, per se is used to convey something requires no reasoning, no reference, or it implies it’s intrinsic.
Street usage indicates per se has evolved to reflect that something is not entirely accurate or that it means “in and of itself.” For example: We’re not stating that Latin shouldn’t be preserved per se; language has always evolved in everyday use.
In order to prove negligence per se, the plaintiff must show that the defendant violated the statute.
The Latin word sic (meaning: in this, in such a manner, or thus), as in sic erat scriptum (meaning: thus was it written), is often confused as an acronym for “spelled in context” or “spelling is correct.” In contemporary English usage, sic is often used to cite poor grammar as well as connote factual or logical errors. We recommend avoid abusing sic, because it can often make the author look like they are attempting to affect superiority over the person who made the error or even the reader.
“She’s got ticket to ride,
She’s got a ticket to ride,
She’s got a ticket to ride,
But she don’t [sic] care.”
– The Beatles, Ticket to Ride
quid pro quo
The Latin phrase quid pro quo (meaning: something for something) is generally used to convey a favor or advantage was granted in return for something. In modern day English usage, quid pro quo has taken on the meaning that adds evidence to an argument. For example: “I made dinner; quid pro quo, you should do the dishes.”
The prisoner’s pardon was a quid pro quo for their help in solving the case.
If you choose to use Latin in your articles, please heed this warning: Dropping Latin into your articles is often perceived as pretentious or conceited. Know your audience and ensure you’re using the phrase correctly.
Use these Latin language tips to strengthen your writing skills, as well as maintain your credibility as an Expert Author. Let us know if there are any other Latin words or phrases you would like to see uncovered in the comments section below! More grammar, punctuation, and language tips are on their way, so stop by the Blog again for the latest and greatest tips to error-free articles.