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Latin words & phrases everyone should know
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ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRST
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a posteriorifrom the latter -- knowledge or justification is dependent on experience or empirical evidence
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a priorifrom what comes before -- knowledge or justification is independent of experience
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faber est suae quisque fortunaeevery man is the artisan of his own fortune -- quote by Appius Claudius Caecus
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acta non verbadeeds, not words
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ad hocto this -- improvised or made up
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ad hominemto the man -- below-the-belt personal attack rather than a reasoned argument
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ad honoremfor honor
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ad infinitumto infinity
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ad nauseamused to describe an argument that has been taking place to the point of nausea
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ad victoriamto victory -- more commonly translated into "for victory," this was a battle cry of the Romans
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alea iacta estthe die has been cast
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aliasat another time -- an assumed name or pseudonym
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alibielsewhere
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alma maternourishing mother -- used to denote one's college/university
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amor patriaelove of one's country
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amor vincit omnialove conquers all
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annuit cœptisHe (God) nods at things being begun -- or "he approves our undertakings," motto on the reverse of the Great Seal of the United States and on the back of the United States one-dollar bill
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ante bellumbefore the war -- commonly used in the Southern United States as antebellum to refer to the period preceding the American Civil War
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ante meridiembefore noon -- A.M., used in timekeeping
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aqua vitaewater of life -- used to refer to various native distilled beverages, such as whisky (uisge beatha) in Scotland and Ireland, gin in Holland, and brandy (eau de vie) in France
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arte et marteby skill and valour
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astra inclinant, sed non obligantthe stars incline us, they do not bind us -- refers to the strength of free will over astrological determinism
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audemus jura nostra defenderewe dare to defend our rights -- state motto of Alabama
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audere est facereto dare is to do
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audioI hear
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aurea mediocritasgolden mean -- refers to the ethical goal of reaching a virtuous middle ground between two sinful extremes
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auribus teneo lupumI hold a wolf by the ears -- a common ancient proverb; indicates that one is in a dangerous situation where both holding on and letting go could be deadly; a modern version is, "to have a tiger by the tail"
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aut cum scuto aut in scutoeither with shield or on shield -- do or die, "no retreat"; said by Spartan mothers to their sons as they departed for battle
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aut neca aut necareeither kill or be killed
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aut viam inveniam aut faciamI will either find a way or make one -- said by Hannibal, the great ancient military commander
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barba non facit philosophuma beard doesn't make one a philosopher
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bellum omnium contra omneswar of all against all
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bis dat qui cito dathe gives twice, who gives promptly -- a gift given without hesitation is as good as two gifts
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bona fidegood faith
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bono malum superateovercome evil with good
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carpe diemseize the day
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caveat emptorlet the buyer beware -- the purchaser is responsible for checking whether the goods suit his need
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circaaround, or approximately
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citius altius fortiusfaster, higher, stronger -- modern Olympics motto
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cogito ergo sumI think therefore I am -- famous quote by Rene Descartes
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contemptus mundi/saeculiscorn for the world/times -- despising the secular world, the monk or philosopher's rejection of a mundane life and worldly values
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corpus christibody of Christ
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corruptissima re publica plurimae legeswhen the republic is at its most corrupt the laws are most numerous -- said by Tacitus
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creatio ex nihilocreation out of nothing -- a concept about creation, often used in a theological or philosophical context
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cura te ipsumtake care of your own self -- an exhortation to physicians, or experts in general, to deal with their own problems before addressing those of others
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curriculum vitaethe course of one's life -- in business, a lengthened resume
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de factofrom the fact -- distinguishing what's supposed to be from what is reality
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deo volenteGod willing
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deus ex machinaGod out of a machine -- a term meaning a conflict is resolved in improbable or implausible ways
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dictum factumwhat is said is done
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disce quasi semper victurus vive quasi cras morituruslearn as if you're always going to live; live as if tomorrow you're going to die
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discendo discimuswhile teaching we learn
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docendo disco, scribendo cogitoI learn by teaching, think by writing
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ductus exemploleadership by example
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ducunt volentem fata, nolentem trahuntthe fates lead the willing and drag the unwilling -- attributed to Lucius Annaeus Seneca
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dulce bellum inexpertiswar is sweet to the inexperienced
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dulce et decorum est pro patria moriit is sweet and fitting to die for your country
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dulcius ex asperissweeter after difficulties
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e pluribus unumout of many, one -- on the U.S. seal, and was once the country's de facto motto
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emeritusveteran -- retired from office
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ergotherefore
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et aliiand others -- abbreviated et al.
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et ceteraand the others
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et tu, Brute?last words of Caesar after being murdered by friend Brutus in Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar," used today to convey utter betrayal
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ex animofrom the heart -- thus, "sincerely"
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ex librisfrom the library of -- to mark books from a library
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ex nihiloout of nothing
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ex post factofrom a thing done afterward -- said of a law with retroactive effect
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fac fortia et pateredo brave deeds and endure
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fac similemake alike -- origin of the word "fax"
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flectere si nequeo superos, acheronta moveboif I cannot move heaven I will raise hell -- Virgil's Aeneid
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fortes fortuna adiuvatfortune favors the bold
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fortis in arduisstrong in difficulties
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gloria in excelsis Deoglory to God in the highest
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habeas corpusyou should have the body -- a legal term from the 14th century or earlier; commonly used as the general term for a prisoner's legal right to challenge the legality of their detention
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habemus papamwe have a pope -- used after a Catholic Church papal election to announce publicly a successful ballot to elect a new pope
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historia vitae magistrahistory, the teacher of life -- from Cicero; also "history is the mistress of life"
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hoc est bellumthis is war
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homo unius libri (timeo)(I fear) a man of one book -- attributed to Thomas Aquinas
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honor virtutis praemiumesteem is the reward of virtue
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hostis humani generisenemy of the human race -- Cicero defined pirates in Roman law as being enemies of humanity in general
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humilitas occidit superbiamhumility conquers pride
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igne natura renovatur integrathrough fire, nature is reborn whole
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ignis aurum probatfire tests gold -- a phrase referring to the refining of character through difficult circumstances
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in absentiain the absence
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in aqua sanitasin water there is health
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in flagrante delictoin flaming crime -- caught red-handed, or in the act
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in memoriaminto the memory -- more commonly "in memory of"
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in omnia paratusready for anything
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in situin position -- something that exists in an original or natural state
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in totoin all or entirely
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in umbra, igitur, pugnabimusthen we will fight in the shade -- made famous by Spartans in the battle of Thermopylae and by the movie 300
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in uteroin the womb
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in vitroin glass -- biological process that occurs in the lab
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incepto ne desistammay I not shrink from my purpose
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intelligenti paucafew words suffice for he who understands
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invictaunconquered
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invictus maneoI remain unvanquished
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ipso factoby the fact itself -- something is true by its very nature
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labor omnia vincithard work conquers all
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