Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Are the phrases "in total" and "in toto" interchangeable, or is "in total" a corruption of "in toto"?

share|improve this question
3  
Steve Lukather used to be in Toto, but since they broke up he's been doing mostly session work. (I couldn't resist.) –  oosterwal Feb 24 '11 at 22:39
    
In total is in no sense a "corruption" of in toto. They are phrases from the same root, which have taken different paths to get here. In toto is direct from Latin, and usable in English only as a phrase, not in its parts; total is an independent word that comes through French, from Latin totalis, an adjectival form from totus, "whole". –  Colin Fine Jul 10 '13 at 15:34
add comment

2 Answers

up vote 9 down vote accepted

In toto has taken on the more general sense of "taken as a whole" in general English usage. In total means something closer to the original meaning of the Latin version, though there's little doubt in my mind that its use is influenced by the presence of in toto, since we already had the phrase in all to describe a final sum.

share|improve this answer
add comment

They're interchangeable. "In toto" is the Latin for "in total", so more appropriate to the sort of formal context where randomly lapsing into Latin is least likely to result in accusations of being lexiphanic.

Though of course, quidquid Latine dictum sit, altum sonatur.

share|improve this answer
5  
Whilst the last phrase is certainly true, I am always struck that using the word lexiphanic is self-fulfilling. ;-) –  Orbling Feb 24 '11 at 18:43
3  
@Orbling: Yes, it's why I love it so. ;) –  chaos Feb 24 '11 at 18:45
3  
Yes, it should be used more. I think I will accuse my boss of lexiphanicism the next time he starts trying to speak techno-babble at clients. –  Orbling Feb 24 '11 at 18:51
    
@Orbling: you probably mean than lexiphanic is self-referential. –  ogerard Apr 23 '11 at 18:21
    
@ogerard: Self-fulfilling too, if you use it, you become it. –  Orbling Apr 23 '11 at 20:05
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.