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What are the differences between viz. and eg. and in which situations each is used? Please also compare the usage with i.e. if appropriate.

Edit: In response to a comment below: I'm asking this as I was framing a sentence

  1. "Mobile device manufacturers e.g. Nokia, Samsung, ...."
  2. "Mobile device manufacturers viz. Nokia, Samsung, ...."

Which of the above is better usage?

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Also see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viz. –  Pacerier Jul 8 '14 at 9:57

2 Answers 2

up vote 13 down vote accepted

i.e.: 'In essence' or 'in other words'. It is used to clarify the original phrase with something specific. Edit: The Latin translation of i.e. is "that is to say" but the words I listed are what helps me remember.

It was sad to have reached the end, i.e., the final episode in the series.

'The end' and 'the final episode' are the same thing.

e.g.: 'For example'. Clarify the original phrase with an example.

He likes fruits, e.g., apples and oranges.

'apples and oranges' are examples of fruits he likes. There may be others.

viz.: 'Namely' or 'as follows'. Similar to e.g., it lists examples, but it is normally used when there is a definitive, complete list. Edit: As @Daniel Roseman says in the comment below, this is rarely used today.

He likes some fruits, viz., apples and oranges.

'apples and oranges' are the only fruits he likes.

So in your specific example of mobile device manufacturers, #1 is probably most likely but it would depend on the sentence:

AT&T offers phones from several mobile device manufacturers e.g. Nokia and Samsung. AT&T offers other phones, too.

Bob's Phone Shack sells mobile phones from Bob's favorite mobile device manufacturers, viz. Nokia and Samsung. Bob only sells Nokia and Samsung phones.


Grammar Girl - I.e. vs E.g.

The Oatmeal - I.e. vs E.g. (very funny)

Wikipedia - Viz.

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i.e. would be better explained as "that is to say", which is closer to the Latin meaning (id est) –  lonesomeday Nov 20 '11 at 15:28
Should probably add that although ie and eg are common, viz is almost unknown these days. –  Daniel Roseman Nov 20 '11 at 20:22
Note that "i.e." stands for the Latin "id est", not "in essence". Besides that technical point, I believe Lynn is correct. Let me add that many people confuse "i.e." and "e.g." and use them interchangeably. For some reason this really annoys me. –  Jay Nov 21 '11 at 17:21
@Jay and Lonesomeday: You are correct about the literal Latin translation; in my mind it makes the most sense as "in essence" but maybe that's just me :) –  Lynn Nov 21 '11 at 18:00
i.e. does actually stand for "id est" (Latin), and not "in essence" –  user70166 Mar 26 '14 at 18:17

You need to use e.g. in your example because the list is not complete

In contradistinction to i.e. and e.g., viz. is used to indicate a detailed description of something stated before, and when it precedes a list of group members, it implies (near) completeness.

A similar expression is scilicet, abbreviated as sc., which is Latin for "it is permitted to know". Sc. provides a parenthetic clarification, removes an ambiguity, or supplies a word omitted in preceding text, while viz. is usually used to elaborate or detail text which precedes it. ... Scilicet can be read as "namely", "to wit", or "that is to say", or pronounced /ˈsɪlɨsɛt/ or /ˈskiːlɨkɛt/.

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+1 for getting the Latin right :) –  Agos Nov 20 '11 at 15:03
@mplungjan, So how does scilicet fit in? Is it identical to viz.? –  Pacerier Jul 8 '14 at 10:03

protected by tchrist Mar 1 at 18:31

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