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

learn more… | top users | synonyms

6
votes
2answers
85 views

Etymology: predicament

Can anyone explain how predicament from the Latin word family dicere ‘to say’ and praedicare, can develop the meaning precarious situation? Etymonline can't. early 15c., "category, class; one of ...
3
votes
1answer
123 views

What is the accurate English translation/meaning of the phrase “In nocte consilium”, the motto of Birkbeck College in London?

Not sure if this is the appropriate place to pose this question, but apparently we don't have a Latin Stackexchange... The motto of Birkbeck College in London is "In nocte consilium". However I have ...
2
votes
2answers
909 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
196 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
41 views

When should 'viz.' be followed by a comma?

Some Latin abbreviations as 'i.e.' and 'e.g.' are always followed by a comma. For the Latin abbreviation 'viz.', sometimes it is followed by a comma, sometimes it is not. What is the rule for ...
9
votes
1answer
644 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 ...
1
vote
3answers
61 views

Are there other well-known examples of the type “Illigitimi non carborundum”?

Illegitimi non carborundum, mock-Latin for "don't let the bastards grind you down", dates to early WWII, and later in the war was adopted by Gen."Vinegar" Joe Stillwell as his motto. For more, ...
2
votes
2answers
195 views

What are antonym-like prefixes to the Greek “crypto”?

What is a prefix that is similar to "public", or "accessible", or "ubiquitous" such that it is harmonious with the spirit of currency needing to be of public domain, widely adopted, accessible, etc. ...
14
votes
2answers
2k 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, ...
12
votes
1answer
2k views

Is the plural of 'prefix' really 'prefixes' rather than 'prefices'?

It looks like the plural of 'prefix' is 'prefixes' - while I would expect it to be 'prefix' => 'prefices' like 'matrix' => 'matrices' or 'index' => 'indices'. Is 'prefix' an exception to the rule? ...
3
votes
3answers
1k views

Has there ever been an antonym for “benefit” that includes the latin affix “neg-”?

I understand bene to roughly mean well, good, or rightly so from Latin, while neg- coming from Latin negare to roughly mean deny, negate, or against. The words benefit, beneficial, and benefactor all ...
2
votes
2answers
75 views

Difference between gerund and present participle [duplicate]

What is the difference between a gerund and present participle? When should we use a gerund and when should we use a present participle ?
29
votes
8answers
106k 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?
7
votes
3answers
52k 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
65 views

“Tonight let's go with the bottle of Cabernet *vs.* the Merlot.” [closed]

(Note that the home wine rack has 10 different kinds of wine in it.) I've been told now and again over the years that this kind of use of vs. (versus) is improper. Apparently it's supposed to only ...
2
votes
0answers
79 views

What did people really say when knighting someone? [closed]

A while ago, on a different PC than the one I am now using, I curiously looked up this question and found out that people did not say "I dub thee..." or "Arise..." to him who was being made a knight, ...
1
vote
3answers
841 views

Word meaning 'To be pulled'

I am looking for a word that means 'to be pulled' in that same sense of propelled or compelled means to be forced or urged forward. Ideally, it would use the same base pel. Searching Google and ...
5
votes
4answers
1k 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
190 views

Why does “stigmata” [often] have penult stress?

I enjoy studying the pronunciation of Greek-derived words in English, and I've found an odd anomaly. There are (at least) two possible pronunciation patterns for words ending in the plural suffix -ata ...
9
votes
1answer
189 views

Latin words borrowed from Roman occupation?

English has a lot of words borrowed from Latin. The great majority were borrowed in the 14- and 1500's from Church/Medieval Latin, a huge influx via educated neologism. I'd like to know if there are ...
4
votes
1answer
2k views

Why is a calzone called calzone?

I was just researching its etymology and turns out that it comes from calceus the Latin for shoe! How did Latin for shoe end up as the Italian (and subsequently, English) for a snack? They seem so ...
0
votes
0answers
51 views

Is there a word meaning “vicarious speaker”?

I remember that there is a word (I can't recall if it is an adjective or a noun) referring to the author when he/she makes a point vicariously through his character's voice. As far as I can recall, it ...
2
votes
2answers
4k 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
92 views

A diptych is a pair of paintings. What is a single painting called?

A diptych (from the Greek di "two" and ptychē "fold") is a pair of paitings. You can also say triptych for a group of three paintings belonging together, septych for a group of seven and so on. ...
1
vote
1answer
133 views

Latin equivalent for “case-by-case” phrase

I would appreciate a reminder of the Latin-phrase equivalent, or alternative suggestions, for "case-by-case," specifically for language to be included in a public-private case-study. Thank you.
7
votes
6answers
3k 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 ...
-1
votes
1answer
44 views

“Experiments are in vitro” [closed]

In most contexts seem to say "in vitro experiments". Would it be grammatically correct to say "an experiment is in vitro" or "all the experiments are in vitro"?
1
vote
0answers
38 views

Of the Same Genera or Genus?

I'm into the marine fish hobby and quite a few are aggressive to those that are too similar; usually fish that are congenital to themselves; however most people just refer to the group as ...
0
votes
1answer
54 views

Plural of Quorum or synonym thereof

I am writing some APIs and documentation. We have configurable "voting rules" which are methods for deciding when a business process may proceed. Some examples: First valid response Majority Super ...
0
votes
2answers
76 views

How did “out, away” + “to play” combine to mean 'elude'?

elude (v.) = 1530s, "delude, make a fool of," from Latin eludere "finish play, win at play; escape from or parry (a blow), make a fool of, mock, frustrate; win from at play," from ...
6
votes
1answer
1k views

Etymology: The root of the words 'real' and 'reality'

I wish to identify the oldest known root from which we derive the words 'real' and 'reality', et cetera. I got as far as determining the origin of the English words real and reality is Latin res, ...
1
vote
1answer
65 views

Why use “ex post facto” when “post facto” means the same thing? [closed]

In legal language I have come across the term "ex post facto". Isn't "ex" redundant in this phrase? "post facto" also means "after the fact", so it should be sufficient. This is commonly used in ...
-2
votes
1answer
94 views

What is the difference between “invasion” and “intrusion”? [closed]

What is the difference between "invasion" and "intrusion", according to the original latin meaning?
3
votes
1answer
128 views

What is the etymology of 'superstitious'?

Clearly superstitious is of Anglo-Norman origin, used in English since well before Chaucer's time to refer to 'unorthodox religious beliefs'.(OED) But the classical Latin is often written hyphenated ...
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'?
0
votes
2answers
593 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" ...
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 ...
-1
votes
1answer
93 views

Etymology of 'patch' in the verb 'dispatch'

dispatch (v.) [<--] 1510s, "to send off in a hurry," from a word in Spanish (despachar "expedite, hasten") or Italian (dispacciare "to dispatch"). For first element, see dis-. The exact ...
3
votes
3answers
192 views

Why Greek morphemes over Latin, or Latin over Greek? *A Call to Lexicographers*

Is there a rationale behind why certain English words take Greek morphemes (or affixes) over Latin morphemes, and vice versa? Why do certain Greek morphemes become standard English idiom over Latin ...
0
votes
2answers
391 views

How is “viz.” pronounced?

How does one read out “viz.”? “Namely”, “to wit”, or something else entirely?
9
votes
2answers
120 views

Declined Latin nouns in English prose

In German it was customary to decline Latin words used in German prose. One might, for instance, speak of performing a reductionem ad absurdum, using the the accusative form of the word reductio when ...
3
votes
0answers
109 views

Can the stress pattern of “uroboros/ouroboros” be explained by any principle, or is it random? [duplicate]

The word "uroboros," coming ultimately from Greek, has a couple of spellings and also pronunciations (see How to do you pronounce Ouroboros?). As explained by Nohat in the linked page, the two ...
13
votes
3answers
414 views

Term for converting to black&white

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 ...
6
votes
3answers
15k views

What is the difference between “Hept-” and “Sept-” prefixes?

As I understand it, both the prefixes "Hept-" and "Sept-" are used to indicate seven of something. We have examples of English words that use both: e.g. Heptathalon, Heptagon, Heptane vs ...
3
votes
2answers
262 views

What is the plural of status quo?

A quick search suggests that status quos is most common pluralization of status quo. This form, however, is deeply unsatisfying. Clearly, status is the noun in this phrase, while quo is some sort of ...
13
votes
2answers
2k views

Meaning of the ending “‑exia”?

If a word ends in -exia (such as dyslexia, anorexia, and pyrexia), does this imply anything about the word itself? For example, in electronics a word ending in ‑ance (such as impedance or ...
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 ...
0
votes
2answers
294 views

Is there a Latin phrase (which can be used in English) for “as per convention”? [closed]

I want to say something in an academic setting to the effect of "as expected" or "as per convention", when dealing with repeated lists of things with expected formatting. Is there a Latin phrase that ...
-3
votes
1answer
51 views

Are “sola scriptura”, “prima scripture”, and “prima ecclesia” nominative or ablative? [closed]

I need to know so that I can properly form neologisms based on these terms. For example, if I were deferring to the authority of a baker, would I say that I believe in primus pistor or primo pistore? ...
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? ...