Questions about the use of Latin words and phrases in English.

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139
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7answers
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12
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4answers
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What is the origin of the counting prefixes: uni-, bi-/di-, tri-, quad-, etc.?

Many English words use the prefixes uni-, bi-/di-, tri-, quad- and so on to mean one, two, three, and four. For example: A unicycle has one wheel, a bicycle two, and a tricycle three. I presume ...
2
votes
2answers
1k views

Quintology or Pentalogy?

Recently I was looking at the X-Men box set and saw that currently five have been released. I had it in my head that these would be called a quintology but I have seen them being called a pentalogy. ...
-2
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1answer
82 views

How do you pluralize “cuirass”? [closed]

I've had a hard time finding the plural form of the word "cuirass". I know it's a Latin word, but is there any common English (or Latin) pluralization?
11
votes
1answer
961 views

Why isn't “muscle” pronounced “muskle”?

It comes from the Latin musculus (meaning mouse) and Latin has only hard c's. The "c" has somehow become soft or silent during evolution. Why did this happen? Also, if muscle is pronounced mussle, ...
4
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1answer
4k views

“via” vs. “through”

Could you please explain what the difference in usage is between through and via, which sounds like a Latinism? Are they completely interchangeable?
0
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1answer
56 views

Set of desiderata or set of desiderate?

Desideratum is a desired feature. Which form is right? Google search shows that "set of desiderata" is more common. But is it correct? e.g., a sentence In this paper, a set of desiderate for ...
0
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1answer
165 views

Etymology of the word 'finesse'

According to Merriam-Webster, one of the definitions of the word finesse is as follows: refinement or delicacy of workmanship, structure, or texture Now, based on the fact that the Latin base ...
4
votes
3answers
2k views

Derivation of “anus” from “annulus”?

I have always thought the word annulus to be exceptionally awkward. I'd like to know the relation between annulus and anus. Geometrically, an annulus is a disk with a hole in it. The anal muscle ...
4
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3answers
500 views

Is the word “formulæ” valid English?

Is the word formulæ, written with an æ at the end, valid in English? I stumbled upon this apparently plural form of formula in the Wiktionary. I had no idea the letter æ could occur in English. Does ...
8
votes
1answer
158 views

Why is there an “h” in “pulchritude”?

I'd assumed that pulchritude was derived from Greek, because of the "ch" but it turns out to be from Latin pulcher. I've been taught that "c" always has a hard pronunciation in Latin, so why would ...
1
vote
1answer
142 views

Is it correct to start a sentence with “Ad question one…”?

I'm pretty sure I've read "Ad question one..." in the sense of "Addressing question one..." before, but the only usage on the web I find is by someone with a Hispanic name and m-w.com doesn't seem to ...
0
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4answers
851 views

Plural form of Octopus and Radius [duplicate]

I have recently found this video online from Merriam Webster saying the plural form of octopus is in fact octopuses. The video explains how octopus comes from the Greek language and thus it would be ...
24
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5answers
101k views

Should I write “PhD” or “Ph.D.”?

Question pretty self-explanatory. Should the abbreviation of the Latin term philosophiae doctor be written as PhD (no periods) or Ph.D. (with periods)?
9
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3answers
959 views

As “postscript” is one word, why do some abbreviate it as “p.s.”?

'Postscript' is a single word in modern English, and Dictionary.com states that it's even based on a single Latin word, postscrīptum. So, why do some abbreviate it to p.s. (or P.S.), as on this ...
1
vote
3answers
369 views

What is the correct possessive genitive for “media”?

I hope I've used the right terms in the title; I'm not a native speaker. The singular of media is of course medium. So when talking about one medium's content, the genitive s and apostrophe are easy ...
10
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4answers
772 views

What is the meaning and usage of the abbreviation “v. a.”?

At the time of this writing there is no explanation on wiktionary, and searching the web does not yield an answer, only more instances of its use: A random entry at the Etymological Dictionary of ...
10
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3answers
471 views

Is it acceptable to mix Latin with English?

Is it acceptable to mix small amounts of Latin with English? Right now, ________ is persona non grata. Is this proper English?
3
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2answers
9k views

Can “alma mater” refer to any school you’ve graduated from, not just college? [closed]

I was wondering whether alma mater refers to all the schools you have been in, or just to college. For example, suppose someone has an undergranduate degree from one institution, a masters degree ...
0
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1answer
169 views

Caesar and caesura

Caesar and caesura are two similar-sounding Latin words which have made their way into English unsullied in terms of their orthography. The same can however not be said of their pronunciations. The ...
-2
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1answer
221 views

Is “… et al. data.” proper grammar? [closed]

Would it be proper grammar to use the Latin phrase in the following way? The items inserted came from departments, employees et al. data.
0
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2answers
551 views

Long vs. short vowels in English words of Latin origin

Is there any way to determine if a vowel is short or long in English words of Latin origin? I've noticed that u is usually long in Latin words (e.g., Jupiter) but what about other vowels?
15
votes
4answers
699 views

Latin plurals when talking about fallacies

I have read multiple questions on this site on Latin plurals, and I’ve learned that you can use both English plurals and Latin plurals with words which originate from Latin (e.g. referendum - ...
6
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1answer
17k views

What is the proper plural of “a series”? [closed]

In math, we use the term series a lot, and there are many types of series. How should I craft my sentence when I have three different ones in mind to talk about? Should I settle down for a less ...
6
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3answers
2k views

Why A is pronounced differently in “opacity” and “opaque”

When I look at pronunciation guides for opacity and opaque I see the following: opaque: oh-peyk (a hard A) opacity: oh-pas-i-tee (a soft A) Since their root seems to be the Latin opācus, ...
5
votes
4answers
224 views

Can et al. be applied to companies?

I am used to seeing this used to condense a list of authors; however, is it correct to apply it to a list of companies? For example, would it make sense to say: Seminars being held by Google, ...
5
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2answers
480 views

Plural of “Animus/Anima”

What is the plural of the words “animus” and “anima”? In any context (literary, Jung psychology, apothecary etc.). Is there English v. Latin differences? Interwebs are no help: versions differ from ...
1
vote
2answers
424 views

Exempli Gratia help [closed]

Is there a plural for e.g., the abbreviation of exempli gratia? Or is it regular to use it before multiple examples? I know that some abbreviations double up in their letters in the plural, but I ...
19
votes
3answers
939 views

Old English instead of Latin in early Britain

For almost 400 years, Britain was a Roman province. During that period, naturally, Latin was an important language in the region. When the Germanic tribes invaded the British Isles (around the 5th ...
5
votes
2answers
598 views

Has there been an Anglo-Saxon movement in English?

We know there has been an influence (or attempt at influence) of Latin grammar on English, especially in the 19th century. And of course, many new words coined today in (say) the sciences draw upon ...
5
votes
3answers
304 views

What is the correct Latinate prefix for honey-eaters?

In English, a vegetarian who eats eggs and dairy products can be referred to as an ovo-lacto vegetarian. By the same token, could a person who eats honey but is otherwise vegan be meaningfully called ...
3
votes
2answers
356 views

What is the origin of the different pronunciations of C and G before different vowels?

In English the letters C and G usually have different pronunciation before a/o/u and before e/i. The same is true for Romance languages - French, Spanish, Catalan, Italian etc. What is the origin of ...
18
votes
3answers
10k views

When a sentence starts with “e.g.”, should the e be capitalized?

When a sentence starts with e.g., should the e be capitalized? Neverminding that it might be better to start with "For example," ... Thinking of SE posts and comments, should the starting e be ...
2
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4answers
4k views

Can I start a sentence with “i.e.”?

While writing a rhetorical question I ran into a case where it seemed natural to start a sentence with "I.e": How do we handle the case when the list is empty? I.e., if the filter matched no ...
7
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3answers
431 views

Latin pronunciation [closed]

(You may well say this doesn't fit into an "English language" site, but the scientific Latin terms could be said to be part of English.) My young daughter loves snails; I would like her to learn the ...
1
vote
1answer
130 views

Pluralisation of Latin Words [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Which style of Latin plurals should I use? Is “data” considered singular or plural? Where are the "data"? I only have one "datum". Listening to Radio 4's Today ...
0
votes
1answer
249 views

What is the meaning of “Ha et cetera”?

In William Golding´s Paper Men, the main character keeps saying "Ha et cetera". What does he mean by this? Is it simply another way of saying "ha, ha, ha" (laughter)?
2
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2answers
2k views

What does “persona non grata” mean? [closed]

In Gossip Girl, there’s a line like this: Spotted, Lonely Boy going from Teacher’s Pet to persona non grata in the pitter-patter of a heartbeat. What’s persona non grata?
5
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2answers
164 views

Is “sectio caesare” an appropriate English alternative to “caesarian section”?

On Parenting.se we recently received this question, which refers to sectio caesare birth. I was not familiar with the term, but found that wikipedia redirects the term to the caesarian section page. ...
3
votes
1answer
309 views

Is the singular form of “desiderata” a disused word?

I was interested in the following paragraph which appeared in an article titled “A New Gauge to See What’s Beyond Happiness" by John Tierney in The New York Times (May 16, 2011). “They wanted to ...
3
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3answers
3k views

Pronunciation and usage of “bona fide”

As I am reading books and articles, I come across this bona fide. How do you pronounce this? How do you use it properly? I know the definition is in good faith, like if you are welcomed to someone's ...
1
vote
3answers
4k views

Can “pro rata” be used as a verb? And what should the past tense be?

We are offering prices on some subscriptions which are normally priced for a full year, but allow users to buy only a few months worth. We're calling these pro rata prices and talking about the ...
7
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4answers
4k views

Why is “de facto” often written in italic?

Often when I see "de facto" written somewhere it is in italic. For example: LaTeX website: LaTeX is a high-quality typesetting system; it includes features designed for the production of ...
8
votes
5answers
658 views

Plurals of “infimum” and “supremum”

The words infimum and supremum are technical terms in mathematics. Should their plurals be infima and suprema or infimums and supremums?
8
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2answers
2k views

Plural of “abacus”

A colleague and I were having a discussion as to the proper plural form of abacus. I believe the plural would be abacuses and he feels that the proper form would be abaci. I believe that abacuses is ...
4
votes
5answers
828 views

Is “ad hominem” gender-neutral?

My immediate thought is that the term is generic, and yet I read recently a verbal brickbat described as ad feminam. Was that just a po-mo back-formation, or is there some merit to the distinction? ...
0
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4answers
12k views

What is the correct plural of “stadium”? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Which style of Latin plurals should I use? If my memory of Latin lessons serves me correctly, it should really be stadia However, I think most people would ...
2
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3answers
302 views

What are the replacements for “i.e.” and what are their differences?

I can think of "that is to say", "in other words", "put differently". And I'd like to know if there are any subtle differences in the usage of these synonyms. Can they always be used interchangeably ...
10
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6answers
959 views

Adjectives with Latin etymology when noun has non-Latin etymology

As a non-native English speaker, I always wondered why, for example, you say moon, but then you say lunar (same goes for side and lateral, hand and manual and so forth): in some cases, the noun is not ...
4
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4answers
3k views

Two octopi? What's the proper plural? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Octopuses, octopi, or octo? What is the "proper" plural of "octopus"? A web search turns up three candidates, but is there a "right" answer?