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

learn more… | top users | synonyms

21
votes
7answers
44k 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?
24
votes
4answers
5k 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'?
3
votes
5answers
570 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 ...
12
votes
5answers
19k 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!
46
votes
4answers
3k 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
142 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 ...
10
votes
4answers
21k 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
5k 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 ...
12
votes
4answers
22k 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
10k 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
votes
3answers
5k 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
50 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
540 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
151 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 ...
18
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
votes
2answers
6k views

“viruses” or “virii”?

Is the plural of virus "viruses" or "virii"?
-1
votes
1answer
117 views

Why is “success” spelled with double -S?

What is the function of the double s at the end of the word, success?
5
votes
4answers
159 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 ...
10
votes
1answer
402 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 ...
4
votes
3answers
619 views

Change of form of some (Latin) prefixes like ex-, ad- into ef-, a-: are there rules or conditions?

There are many cases of prefixes changing their forms. For example ex- can change to ef- in front of f, e.g. effusion. ad- becomes a- in front of b, e.g. abate. Are there some more general rules ...
3
votes
2answers
136 views

Names of some months don't make sense [closed]

I'm not a native English speaker but I'm always trying to do my best. Unfortunately I have a real problem with dates for some odd reason, I couldn't learn when was my birthday until I was 12 years ...
0
votes
1answer
3k views

What are the correct plural forms of “penis”? [duplicate]

I was reading this Reddit post's comments: 'I am the guy with two penises. AMA' (NSFW), and came upon this discussion (of sorts), where the plural of "penis" has been suggested to be either: ...
6
votes
1answer
330 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 ...
0
votes
2answers
796 views

Which are the most common Latin words/phrases used in spoken English? [closed]

Please, specify American/British Engilsh! I think these below are very common but I have no idea if they are commonly used in spoken English. ad hoc per se a priori de facto ergo et cetera vice ...
2
votes
2answers
116 views

Modus vivendi, modus praevalentis [closed]

As you may know, when two states fail to come to permanent treaty terms, they may agree for the time being to a modus vivendi, an interim memoradum of indefinite term specifying usually mutually ...
6
votes
1answer
464 views

Why Abraham and not Avraham?

In the Hebrew scriptures Abraham's name is Avraham and not Abraham (אַבְרָהָם). Is has a v and not a b. The same goes for Rebecca, who is called Rivka in Hebrew. Both v and b sounds are represented by ...
8
votes
2answers
264 views

Is there a Latin term for the concept of “ad infinitum”, but in reverse?

When someone says that a process happens ad infinitum, it tends to imply that the process happens again and again, carrying on into the future. But how do you talk about something that has been ...
0
votes
2answers
314 views

Latin abbreviation to use in English to replace “as such” [closed]

I was wondering if I can use "et al." in order to say "as such" after a list of elements in a sentence given as example. If not: What can be the correct Latin abbreviation to use to replace "as ...
6
votes
1answer
149 views

History of the non-rule that proscribes ending a sentence with a preposition [duplicate]

Famously, if not accurately, Winston Churchill is supposed to have responding to an editor who had "fixed" a sentence ending with a preposition by writing, "This is the sort of thing up with which I ...
2
votes
1answer
56 views

Australis, Austrinus, Australe - in constellations

I was having a look at the official constellations, and I noticed three with similar names: Corona Australis Piscis Austrinus Triangulum Australe Now the "Austral" definitely means "southern", as ...
0
votes
4answers
144 views

Usage of 'AD' era designation

Considering the sentence: AD 1453, the city of Constantinople was conquered by the Ottoman empire. Is this a complete sentence? From what I understand of the situation: The era designator ...
0
votes
2answers
162 views

People eighty years and up

Is there a word for people in the 80+ age group? I know octogenarian means 80-to-89-year-olds. Is there a word for people in their 80s, 90s, 100s, etc., inclusive? Supraoctogenarian?
4
votes
5answers
2k views

Are words “Sophisticated” and “Sophism” logically connected?

I am not a native English speaker. The other day, I've had a conversation with an American, who claims my assumption to be wrong. I still think I am correct, so here it is: According to Wikipedia, ...
5
votes
1answer
324 views

Why isn’t “disharmony” spelled “*dysharmony”?

Disharmony is a Greek word with a Latin prefix meaning “absence of harmony” or “bad harmony”. So why not spell it dysharmony, as one spells dysfunction or dyspepsia?
2
votes
3answers
205 views

Why is there a [sic] in this passage?

The following passage comes from The American Journey (sixth edition), page 156. It's a quote of George F. Regas, addressing President George W. Bush (not in person). Notice the [sic] after the word ...
5
votes
3answers
237 views

1000 Day “Anniversary”

"Anniversary" comes from Latin: "anni" [genitive of annus = year] + "vers(us)" [past participle of vertere = to turn]. I am interested in constructing a similar word which means "reoccurring every ...
1
vote
2answers
128 views

Data as a plural noun [duplicate]

In an academic writing, is it correct to make reference to "the data itself", being that data is a plural noun and itself is a singular pronoun?
3
votes
2answers
168 views

Usage of macrons in Latin loanwords

I know that diacritics are often retained in loanwords in formal writing (cf. naïveté), but I haven't seen this done with direct adaptation of Latin words; i.e., per se. In Latin, per sē comes with a ...
-1
votes
1answer
120 views

Dot (.) usage in Latin Words? [duplicate]

The question is short and simple. Say I use i.e. in my formal publication. Which is correct? ... by the interior landmarks, i.e. elevators and escalators. Or ... by the interior landmarks, ...
10
votes
4answers
78k 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 ...
10
votes
6answers
5k views

Is “et al.” used as a singular or plural subject?

When referring to multiple authors by using the name of the first author and "et al.", is it correct to grammatically treat this as one person or multiple persons? Gamma et al. are saying in their ...
4
votes
0answers
123 views

Is the usage of latinisms perceived as common in the English language or does it sound like bragging in ordinary speech? [closed]

My question here is about perception. English has a great and wonderful variety in its vocabulary, and many concepts can be associated with different words, although with slightly different meanings ...
3
votes
2answers
354 views

Is it more formal to use words of Latin origin? [closed]

For example, cemetery instead of graveyard. In which context would a word of Latin origin be more proper? Or is there no difference at all?
8
votes
2answers
4k views

“In toto” versus “in total”

Are the phrases "in total" and "in toto" interchangeable, or is "in total" a corruption of "in toto"?
10
votes
3answers
353 views

Term for converting to black&white [closed]

Is there a single word to denote reducing the color palette of an image to two colors: black and white? For instance, navy becomes black and beige turns into white. I know there is desaturate, but ...
4
votes
2answers
706 views

Is there a Latin, or English, phrase or acronym for “in summary”?

Is there something similar to TLDR that can be used in professional emails and messages?
7
votes
1answer
145 views

Is “qo” a step in the evolution of the question mark?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Question_mark According to the wikipedia article I've linked to above, "qo" was sometimes used in the middle ages to abbreviate the latin word "questio" in the way that we ...
10
votes
3answers
741 views

Is the Latin abbreviation “f” (folio) commonly used in page ranges?

When citing from an inclusive range of two consecutive pages such as pages 25 and 26, one can write 25–26 or 25f I know this is a question of style, but I am having little luck with Google ...
8
votes
4answers
9k 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"?