Latin Words and Phrases You Should Know

Despite my Latin professor having been struck by lightning twice (true story) I learned quite a bit from him, so know first hand what an asset Latin is to study. Not only has it allowed me to read the original works of renowned poets such as Ovid and Vergil but it’s helped immensely with other languages, whether it be French, Italian or my own native English.

After all, there is a reason they are called Latin languages i.e. romance languages. “Romance” means they originated from a language spoken by Romans. The root words of these languages often trace back to the original Latin words.

For example the Latin word “nova” means “new” and is used to create the english words “novice,” “novel” or “novelty.”

There are also Latin phrases that have made it into our everyday language. For example” i.e.” used earlier in this article stands for “id est” meaning “that is” or “in other words.” Latin also provides the root words for modern science, law, theology and government.

By gaining a basic knowledge of Latin roots, prefixes and phrases you are able to decipher and learn what a word means even if it’s complex or you have never heard it before.

It also just makes you sound incredibly smart. I highly suggest memorizing the following list.

It’s not hard to do and once it’s engrained in your memory I guarantee there will be numerous times when it will come in handy and make you feel like the most intelligent person in the room.

HOMEWORK: Select your favorite Latin word or phrase and share it in the comments below.


Latin Abbreviations
  1. latin words and phrasesA.D. (anno domino): in the year of the Lord
  2. ad inf., ad infin. (ad infinitum): to infinity, forever
  3. ad int. (ad interim): in the meantime
  4. A.M. (ante meridian): before midday, before noon
  5. c. (cum): with
  6. e.g. (exempli gratis): for example
  7. et al. (et alii, et alia): and other things
  8. etc. (et cetera): and the rest, and so forth
  9. ib., ibid. (ibidem): in the same place
  10. i.e. (id est): that is, in other words
  11. M.O. (modus operandi): method of operating, way of doing things
  12. N.B. (nota bene): note well, pay attention to
  13. P.M. (post meridiem): after midday, after noon
  14. pro tem. (pro tempore): for the time, temporarily
  15. P.S. (post scriptum): written after
  16. R. (regina, rex): Queen, King
  17. R.I.P. (Requiescat in pace): May he rest in peace
  18. S.P.Q.R. (Senatus Populusque Romanus): The Senate and the Roman People
  19. stat. (statim): immediately
  20. vs. (versus): against



Latin Prefixes
  1. ad: towardslatin words and phrases
  2. ambi: both
  3. extra: in addition to
  4. exo: outside
  5. hyper: over
  6. hypo: under
  7. infra: below
  8. inter: between
  9. intro: within
  10. iso: equal
  11. liber: free
  12. macro: large
  13. micro: small
  14. mono: single
  15. multi: many
  16. omni: all
  17. proto: first
  18. poli: many
  19. tele: distant
  20. trans: across



Latin Root Words
  1. alter: anotherlatin words and phrases
  2. bonus: good
  3. corpus: body
  4. derma: skin
  5. domus: home/house
  6. ego: I/me
  7. erectus: upright
  8. gens: family
  9. homo: human
  10. malus: bad
  11. magnus: great
  12. nemo: nobody
  13. omnis: everything
  14. pax: peace
  15. qui: who
  16. sapiens: wise
  17. terra: earth
  18. virtus: virtue
  19. vivo: live
  20. vox: voice



Latin Phrases
  1. quid pro quo: something for something elseStatue-Augustus_white_background
  2. rara avis: rare bird
  3. status quo: the way things are
  4. veni vidi vici: I came, I saw, I conquered
  5. tempus fugit: time flies
  6. summa cum laude: with highest praise
  7. per se: in itself, by itself
  8. in vino veritas: in wine there is truth
  9. ante bellum: before the war
  10. carpe diem: seize the day
  11. e pluribus unum: from many come one
  12. ad nauseam: to the point of disgust
  13. ab ovo: from the beginning
  14. ars gratia artis: art for the sake of art
  15. de facto: in fact
  16. cum grano salis: with a grain of salt
  17. mirabile dictu: a remarkable thing to talk about
  18. O Tempora! O Mores!: O’ the times! O’ the customs!
  19. alma mater: school, foster mother
  20. alumnus(m.), alumni (m. pl.), alumna (f.) alumnae (f. pl.): graduate, foster child




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