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

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6
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3answers
5k 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, ...
8
votes
5answers
926 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?
29
votes
8answers
105k views

How did “sinister”, the Latin word for “left-handed”, get its current meaning?

Sinister is the Latin word for left-handed. What evolution of meaning turned left-handed into evil and threatening?
21
votes
3answers
2k 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
5k 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
1k views

“Mutexes” or “mutices”? [closed]

When we create new words ending in -ex (mutex being short for mutual exclusion), should we (may we?) use the Latin plural form because the suffix is similar to the latin suffix -ex? (Personally I've ...
3
votes
2answers
1k views

“Curriculum Vitae” vs “Curriculum Vitæ”

I was just seeing the CV of Dr. Donald Knuth, which he calls as his Curriculum Vitæ. So is Curriculum Vitæ more appropriate than the commonly used Curriculum Vitae?
7
votes
1answer
887 views

Etymology of “duck”

Etymonline and wiktionary don't seem to agree on that one. Many European languages have cognates (Ente, anatra, eend), but duck seems isolated. Where does English take duck from? Edit As Henry ...
6
votes
4answers
10k 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
votes
2answers
1k views

Latin (or Greek) -x becomes -ght?

I have attested two words in English that come from two Latin words. These are "night" and "light". They derive from the words "nox" and "lux" respectively; both Latin — in the case of the word "nox", ...
2
votes
4answers
21k 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 ...
27
votes
3answers
23k 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
votes
4answers
1k views

nebula and nebulous - a question of origin

While looking up nebulous, I noticed the origin of the word is dating back to 14th century. Surprised since the nebulae wasn't discovered at that time, I checked nebula to find that its origin dates ...
13
votes
4answers
175k views

What does 'Ibid' mean in reference/footnotes?

Every so often I read a book with footnotes, and I've seen them use Ibid. followed by page numbers - but I have no idea what this term means. At first I thought it was a reference to a classical ...
16
votes
4answers
57k views

How does one use the Latin word “cum” in a sentence?

I'm talking about the Latin cum, which I've seen used conjunctively, as in A-cum-B. What does it mean, and how do you use it?
14
votes
5answers
41k views

What does the suffix “-saurus” mean?

Is it the same meaning in tyrannosaurus as in thesaurus? I really can’t imagine what those two words could possibly have in common!
35
votes
5answers
239k 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)?
13
votes
4answers
31k views

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 ...
10
votes
5answers
2k views

Do “to pony up” and “to pungle” come from the same Latin root?

For to pony up, etymonline.com says 1824, in pony up "to pay," said to be from slang use of L. legem pone to mean "money" (first recorded 16c.), because this was the title of the Psalm for March ...
6
votes
2answers
286 views

What is the origin of the pluralization “virii”?

However wrong it may be, lots of people have pluralized virus as virii. I'd understand viri, but what misconception could lead one to write virii?
14
votes
4answers
2k views

Pronunciation of trailing “i” in Latin-derived words

Some pronounce the trailing "i" in Latin-derived words (e.g., "Gemini") as a long "e" and others pronounce it as a long "i." I was taught the long "e," but is this mere preference or is there a firm ...
3
votes
5answers
2k views

How is “e.g.” pluralized?

How is "e.g." pluralized? Usually I just see "e.g." used regardless of the number of examples given, but I don't know if that's correct or merely a product of widespread ignorance. More rarely, I've ...
10
votes
5answers
6k views

“Unicorn”: what other words have this “cornus” etymology?

"Unicorn" comes from the French and late Latin, with the "cornus" part meaning "horn". I am wondering what other English words share this root. I could think of "rhinoceros". Can you think of ...
4
votes
3answers
3k 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 ...
20
votes
2answers
61k views

What's the difference between “e.g.” and “ex.”?

I know they both roughly mean "example", but which one should I use, and when?
5
votes
2answers
855 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
248 views

Using “allium” as an adjective

I’d like to use the Latin word for garlic, allium, as an adjective, but can’t find any examples of this being done. Is there a rule for doing this with nouns ending in ‑um? Alliumnal sounds good, but ...
5
votes
3answers
928 views

Rules for forming adjectives from Latin nouns

I read a paper today that kept using "multistrata" to describe an object with multiple layers. For example: I love multistrata cakes. This sounds wrong to my ear, I think "multistratum" sounds ...
6
votes
3answers
912 views

Did “et cetera” gain its popularity from “The King and I”?

Is it possible that et cetera gained its popularity thanks to the 1956 movie The King and I? Since I wasn't around before 1956, I'm not sure how common "et cetera" was in day to day speech. Or was it ...
9
votes
2answers
16k views

“In toto” versus “in total”

Are the phrases "in total" and "in toto" interchangeable, or is "in total" a corruption of "in toto"?
4
votes
4answers
11k 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?
6
votes
3answers
6k views

What does “imperio in imperium” mean?

I've heard the Latin phrase imperio in imperium used in political discussions a few times. While I understand what the phrase literally means in Latin ("by command into command"), I'm not sure what ...
3
votes
3answers
10k 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 ...
4
votes
6answers
1k 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? ...
17
votes
5answers
49k views

What is the plural of “scenario”?

What is the plural of "scenario"? I have always used "scenarios", but have recently come across "scenaria" and "scenarii". Should I be treating it as an Italian or Latin word?
1
vote
2answers
759 views

What is the demonym for Norfolk, Virginia?

According to this Fritinancy entry, the demonym for Norfolk, England is "North Anglian," rather than "Norfolker" or "Norfolkite," for historical reasons. What about Norfolk, Virginia, in the United ...
12
votes
6answers
1k 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 ...
20
votes
7answers
3k views

Which style of Latin plurals should I use?

Many Latin words in English have both Latin-style plurals and English-style plurals: referendum – referendums, referenda. minimum – minimums, minima. gymnasium – gymnasiums, gymnasia. ...
10
votes
4answers
25k views

How is the word “qua” used?

I play Scrabble. I'm learning words with the letter 'q'. What is the usage of the word 'qua'?
9
votes
9answers
3k views

What is the plural of Prius?

What would be the correct plural of Prius, and why? A Latin professor would say Prium’s the best...
2
votes
2answers
3k 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?
7
votes
3answers
51k views

“Emigrant” vs. “immigrant”

While studying one word substitution I came across these two words, what I understood till now is like this: Emigrant: One who leaves his own country to reside to another. Immigrant: A person who ...
8
votes
2answers
2k views

“omni”-prefixed word for “all-hearing”

Is there an adjective that begins with the prefix omni that means all-hearing? I thought that an aural counterpart to omnipresent, omnipotent, and omniscient must exist, but after a few minutes of ...
12
votes
4answers
23k views

Correct spelling/italicization of e.g., i.e.?

Should e.g. and i.e. have periods, e.g. "e.g.", or no periods, eg "eg"? Should they be italicized, e.g. "i.e." or not, eg "i.e"?
10
votes
2answers
15k views

“viruses” or “virii”?

Is the plural of virus "viruses" or "virii"?
77
votes
7answers
67k views

What is the plural form of “status”?

What is the plural form of "status"?
184
votes
7answers
33k views

How are “i.e.” and “e.g.” pronounced?

How are i.e. and e.g. pronounced?