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

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5
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6answers
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How popular is “sine qua non” in English? If I use it in day to day conversation, will I be scoffed at?

I saw the word “sine qua non” in the article of New York Times (October 12) written by Gail Collins under the title, “The Gift of Glib.” The article deals with the big Republican debate held in New ...
1
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0answers
40 views

What is the etymology of “floccinaucinihilipilification”? [on hold]

I recently encountered this word, "floccinaucinihilipilification" while watching Jason Bateman's directorial movie debut "Bad Words", in which he stars as a 40+ year old participant in a spelling bee ...
1
vote
4answers
66 views

Correct term for a group of thirty-two things (or the general rule for anything over twenty) - duotrigectet?

I have found this source a little useful, but I am unsure what the correct term for a collection of thirty-two things is. Sextet, octet, dectet etc. are the terms for 6, 8, 10 etc. The "prefix form" ...
0
votes
1answer
61 views

What is the correct usage of the word “Contra”?

According to multiple sources (1 and 2), the word "contra" can be employed as either a preposition or an adverb. From my perspective, however, there is a dearth of clear examples featuring this word ...
3
votes
2answers
61 views

Heterogeneous vs. inhomogeneous [closed]

I am puzzled about the word "inhomogeneous." Isn't "heterogeneous", strictly speaking, more correct? Do correct me if I'm wrong, but to me, "inhomogeneous" looks like the Latin prefix "in-" added to a ...
0
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0answers
23 views

Heterogeneous vs. inhomogeneous [duplicate]

I am puzzled about the word "inhomogeneous." Isn't "heterogeneous", strictly speaking, more correct? Do correct me if I'm wrong, but to me, "inhomogeneous" looks like the Latin prefix "in-" added to a ...
5
votes
2answers
6k 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?
8
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9answers
2k 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...
5
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3answers
11k 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 ...
4
votes
5answers
11k views

How is 'via' pronounced and where did these variations come from? [closed]

Over the years, I've heard people say 'v-ē-ə', 'v-ī-ə', and sometimes the 'uh' is an 'ah' sound. (edit- It has come to my attention that 'via' was once a 'wee-ah' from Latin, but I don't feel like ...
2
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3answers
358 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
57 views

English, Latin, or Malay pronunciation of betta fish

The genus name of the aquarium fish Betta splendens derives from the Malay word "ikan betah." The common name of the fish is also "betta," which in English we'd pronounce with a soft e. I often hear ...
0
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0answers
49 views

Can “e.g.” be used to indicate that the preceding clause is an example?

I was advised not to use "for example" in academic work. If I have the following sentence: "The state of New York, for example, uses Auctions to assign...", is it possible to substitute the "for ...
2
votes
1answer
3k views

Where do “‑ess” and “‑ine” suffixes come from?

English has a lot of words that end in ‑ess or ‑esse, such as actress, hostess, huntress, finesse, duress, prowess, Lyonesse, and Westernesse. That looks like a suffix that is also used frequently ...
11
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2answers
18k 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?
0
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2answers
74 views

Does syllabus derive from Greek or Latin?

I'm looking for some hard evidence to determine whether syllabus is a word that derives from Greek or Latin. This came about from a discussion asking whether the plural of syllabus is "syllabuses" or ...
3
votes
5answers
5k views

Does the etymology of the word “government” mean “to control the mind”?

I've heard some conspiracy theorists say that government, when broken down into its root Latin words, means "to control the mind". I'm wondering if this is really true or not. Is it? Edit: My own ...
4
votes
2answers
349 views

From Latin prefixes and suffixes and its usage, does “absolute” denote “freedom” or “away from freedom”?

First of all, I would like to apologize for my title's awkward formulation. English is not my mother-tongue. I am looking at the word "absolute", which, according to Dictionary.com, has the ...
12
votes
4answers
15k 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
75 views

“Stadiums” vs. “stadia” [duplicate]

I'm not that old, but when I was a child/teen, stadia was the common term. As in: Wembley, the Nou Camp, and the Santiago Bernabeu are football stadia. The MCG and Lord's are cricket stadia. ...
3
votes
1answer
142 views

Is there any connection between “machination” and Machiavelli?

Is there any connection between the term machination and the writer Niccolò Machiavelli or is it just a coincidence that they are so similar? It seems logical because aside from having similar ...
8
votes
1answer
403 views

Why and how did “a sensible boy” become “intelligent and prudent”?

Italians often get confused by sensible and sensitive. If I tell them He's a sensible boy; he studies hard, saves his money, and plans ahead. They are quite bewildered. To them, sensible is ...
4
votes
3answers
66 views

Mars Anniversary

Does a word already exist for the anniversary of an event as measured by the orbital period of another planet? For example, (as of today on Earth) Curiosity Mars Rover has been on Mars for one Mars ...
-2
votes
6answers
293 views

What is a good substitute word for the X-cum-Y construction? [closed]

I wanted to use the word "cum" to avoid repeating "and" in the following phrase: example.com is a teacher-cum-student search and listing site... But on second thoughts, the word "cum" is also a ...
3
votes
2answers
105 views

What are the technical symbols used in the margin of a page called?

I research Latin texts which discuss a peculiar medieval practice: the addition of minute graphic symbols into the margins of the page, for example in order to indicate passages of interest, flaws in ...
4
votes
1answer
99 views

Is the use of the dative of possession (from Latin) in English phrases proper?

I am an avid Latin III student studying in high school, and I often think about the effect that Latin has had on English, not just through etymology and morphology, but in semantics and pragmatics. ...
1
vote
0answers
41 views

Mashing parts together to form Philanthropomath [closed]

I've always been unskilled with prefixes, suffixes, roots, etc. I was wondering if I combined philanthrope(ic) and philomath to form Philanthropomath Does this turn into nonsense? Or through the ...
10
votes
1answer
466 views

Data is/are in a global context

I have been commissioned to script a series of brief videos on the importance of data accuracy and consistency. The videos are directed to employees of a company with offices around the ...
3
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2answers
133 views

When (if ever) to use plural form of Homo sapiens?

Which should I say? These are two fine Homo sapiens. or These are two fine Homines sapientes. (Assume I insist on using the Latin Homo sapiens in my sentence, for whatever reason. Edit to ...
6
votes
5answers
590 views

“Rogative” root (as in prerogative, derogative, interrogative)

Prerogative, derogative, and interrogative all seem to have the root "rogative" (or perhaps it's not a root at all) and I'm wondering what it means. I was having trouble seeing a connection between ...
2
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3answers
103 views

Latin for “to Hide Complexity” as Related to “to Abstract”

In computer science and programming we talk a lot about "abstraction" by which we mean to create ever "higher" level code to that accomplishes increasingly complex task with less programmer decision ...
3
votes
1answer
757 views

What is the history of “nil” in British football /soccer?

In British football if neither team scores a goal, the score is said to be: nil-nil or nil-nil draw. Curiously, the winning team's results are always spoken first. So if Arsenal are playing home the ...
23
votes
7answers
56k 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?
25
votes
4answers
18k views

What is the proper plural form of 'apparatus'?

Dictionary.com claims that the plural of 'apparatus' is 'apparatuses'. Surely that can't be right... isn't it 'apparati'?
13
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5answers
25k 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!
47
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4answers
4k views

Why is “pound” (of weight) abbreviated “lb”?

Answers to Correct usage of lbs. as in "pounds" of weight suggest that "lb" is for "libra" (Latin), but how has this apparent inconsistency between the specific unit of weight "pound" and ...
12
votes
2answers
3k views

“Oestrogen” and “oesophagus” — why are they spelled differently in British English?

Within Biology, there are some biological terms that differ in spelling between the British English and American English dictionaries. For example, oestrogen and oesophagus, as well as the word ...
6
votes
1answer
208 views

Are “adult” and “adulterate” cognates?

The word adult appear to have derived from the Latin term adultus, meaning grown up, mature, adult, ripe. Adulterate (and its cognate adultery) is reported to derive from the Latin adulterare - to ...
11
votes
4answers
27k 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?
3
votes
2answers
7k views

How should an English speaker pronounce “vice versa”?

When using vice versa in spoken English, I tend to just completely Anglicise it and pronounce it vise VER-ser, with only one syllable in vice. The original would be something like VEE-cay VER-sa, but ...
13
votes
4answers
29k 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?
7
votes
2answers
13k 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'?
7
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3answers
6k views

Pronunciation of words ending with “‑ae”

For example, Styracaceae, Suidae, Sulidae, Sylviidae, Symplocaceae, etc. I don’t know how to pronounce them correctly.
5
votes
1answer
71 views

Quis? Ego! (Child's phrase)

In British private schools children shout "Quis?" and the person to shout "Ego!" in reply first gets whatever was on offer. The Latin derivation is clear but I have two questions. First, when did ...
4
votes
1answer
665 views

English words of Latin origin: Did they replace existing words?

According to Wikipedia, the Latin influence on English builds more than half of its vocabulary. The same source furnishes a percentage of 26% for words of Germanic origin. Although I can easily ...
2
votes
4answers
398 views

What is the formal plural of the word theorem?

The word theorem comes from late Latin theōrēma and the Greek θεώρημα . If one wanted a plural form other than theorems that reflected its etymology, what would it be? I understand the standard ...
20
votes
7answers
1k 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
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2answers
8k views

“viruses” or “virii”?

Is the plural of virus "viruses" or "virii"?
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1answer
177 views

Why is “success” spelled with double -S?

What is the function of the double s at the end of the word, success?
5
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4answers
205 views

Latin-derived verbs

Are all Latin-derived English verbs regular? For ex. decide, arrive add -ed in their past forms. Are there any specific rules to follow? To spend is irregular: why? Does it depend on when these verbs ...