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

learn more… | top users | synonyms

190
votes
7answers
35k views

How are “i.e.” and “e.g.” pronounced?

How are i.e. and e.g. pronounced?
82
votes
9answers
74k views

What is the plural form of “status”?

What is the plural form of "status"?
53
votes
4answers
13k 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 ...
36
votes
5answers
260k 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)?
33
votes
5answers
72k 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'?
30
votes
3answers
25k 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 ...
29
votes
8answers
112k 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
6k views

Where on Earth is “penguin” from?

Fact or fallacy? It's one of those things you hear or casually read somewhere that sticks with you. The word penguin is derived from Welsh; pen refers to "head", while gywn means "white". Well, it's ...
24
votes
2answers
2k views

Why “Jesu” rather than “Jesus” in this carol?

Why does this bit of O Come, All Ye Faithful use Jesu rather than Jesus? Yea, Lord, we greet thee Born this happy morning Jesu, to thee be glory given Am I right in my thinking that Jesus is ...
23
votes
2answers
69k 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?
22
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. ...
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 ...
17
votes
5answers
53k 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?
17
votes
4answers
62k 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?
15
votes
7answers
20k 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 ...
15
votes
4answers
44k 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!
15
votes
4answers
2k 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 - ...
14
votes
6answers
4k views

What's the opposite of “pro bono”?

The Latin pro bono is used to describe performance of (often professional or specialized) services for free or for reduced compensation. Is there a corresponding (hopefully Latin, perhaps ...
14
votes
4answers
6k views

When do I use -i for expressing the plural of a word?

I've never been certain of the rules surrounding the use of the -i suffix for pluralizing a word. I had thought that it was used for any word whose singular ended in an 's', but that doesn't appear to ...
14
votes
4answers
25k 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"?
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 ...
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, ...
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 ...
13
votes
4answers
184k 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 ...
13
votes
1answer
746 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 ...
13
votes
3answers
424 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 ...
13
votes
6answers
2k 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 ...
13
votes
4answers
34k 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 ...
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? ...
12
votes
3answers
4k 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 ...
11
votes
4answers
7k 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 ...
11
votes
2answers
17k views

“viruses” or “virii”?

Is the plural of virus "viruses" or "virii"?
11
votes
2answers
1k views

What is the ultimate etymology of “false”?

The first two are based on wiktionary false From Middle English false, from Old English fals (“false, fraud, falsehood”), from Latin falsus (“counterfeit, false; falsehood”), perfect passive ...
10
votes
3answers
654 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?
10
votes
4answers
27k 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'?
10
votes
5answers
7k 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 ...
10
votes
4answers
2k 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
votes
1answer
619 views

English Subjunctive: An Imposition from Latin?

Often English grammar (as well as Koinê Greek, e.g "deponent", and probably others), has often been ruled by what I call "totalitarian grammarians" who impose Latin structures on it rather than doing ...
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 ...
10
votes
3answers
239 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
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...
9
votes
3answers
572 views

What do you call two consecutive months; a sixth of a year?

Half a year is a semester, i.e. (literally) 6 months. Since it’s often wrongly thought to derive from semi- ‘half’, there’re contradicting definitions of similar terms: Both a trimester and a (rare) ...
9
votes
3answers
1k 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 ...
9
votes
2answers
17k views

“In toto” versus “in total”

Are the phrases "in total" and "in toto" interchangeable, or is "in total" a corruption of "in toto"?
9
votes
1answer
1k 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 ...
9
votes
1answer
38k 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 ...
9
votes
1answer
244 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 ...
9
votes
1answer
669 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 ...
9
votes
2answers
125 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 ...
8
votes
5answers
979 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?