Latin Words: 50 Cool Latin Words and Phrases You Should Know

Latin Words!!! Below is your guide to the most common Latin words that are used in English. Learn these Latin words and you’ll sound like a native English speaker.

Latin Words

Many commonplace English words can be traced back to Latin, which probably will take you by surprise because you actually use them in daily conversations.

Latin Words and Phrases

A priori

  • From the former
  • There seems to be no a priori reason why nuclear transfer should work.

Bona fide

  • Good faith
  • Make sure you are dealing with a bona fide company.

Habeas corpus

  • Have the body
  • His petition for a writ of habeas corpus was denied by the circuit court.

Per se

  • Through itself
  • The color of the shell per se does not affect the quality of the egg.

Terra firma

  • Solid land
  • We were glad to be back on terra firma again.


  • Therefore
  • Change from within will take too long. Ergo change must come from outside.

Ad hoc

  • To this
  • The meetings will be held on an ad hoc basis.

Caveat emptor

  • Let the buyer beware
  • The sale is subject to the caveat emptor principle.

Homo sapiens

  • Wise man
  • The appearance of anatomically modern Homo sapiens is a hotly debated issue in paleoanthropology.

Persona non grata

  • Not-pleasing person
  • He was declared persona non grata and forced to leave the country.


  • Word for word
  • He reported the speech verbatim.


  • After death
  • The postmortem on the presidential campaign is underway.
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Ad hominem

  • To/at the man
  • Ad hominem attacks are a signal of defeat in a debate.


  • Body
  • I’ve got the corpus of Shakespeare’s works.

In loco parentis

  • In place of a parent
  • I stand towards her in loco parentis.

Prima facie

  • At first sight
  • There is prima facie evidence that he was involved in the fraud.


  • I forbid
  • The board can exercise its veto to prevent the decision.

Ad infinitum

  • To infinity
  • You cannot stay here ad infinitum without paying any rent.

Cum laude

  • With honor
  • He graduated cum laude from Georgetown University.

In medias res

  • In the middle of things
  • He began his story in medias res.

Pro bono

  • For good
  • They would like to expand their pro bono work around Scotland.

Vice versa

  • The other way around
  • You can cruise from Cairo to Aswan or vice versa.

Ad nauseam

  • To the point of disgust
  • He talks ad nauseam about how clever his children are.

Curriculum vitae

  • Course of life
  • Have you brought your curriculum vitae and certificates with you?

In toto

  • In total
  • The available information amounts to very little in toto.


  • Elsewhere
  • He established an alibi to the charge of murder.

De facto

  • In fact
  • He’s her de facto husband though they’re not actually married.

In vitro

  • In glass
  • Scientists are studying these cells in vitro.

Quid pro quo

  • What for what
  • The superintendent used quid pro quo to change the work situation.

Alma mater

  • Nourishing mother
  • He donated $20 million to his alma mater, Colombia University.

De jure

  • By law
  • The President aims to create a de jure one-party state.
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Ipso facto

  • By the fact itself
  • If a crime occurs then there is, ipso facto, a guilty party.


  • Of whom
  • How many members make a quorum?

Alter ego

  • Another I
  • He’s my alter ego we go everywhere together.

Deus ex machina

  • God from the machine
  • As if some deus ex machina had wrought these changes overnight.

Magnum opus

  • Great work
  • His latest offering is a magnum opus on philosophy.

Rigor mortis

  • Stiffness of death
  • Rigor mortis had already set in.


  • Before the war
  • There are many antebellum houses in the area.


  • Having served one’s time
  • He will continue as chairman emeritus.

Mea culpa

  • My fault
  • A number of banks have pleaded mea culpa.

Status quo

  • The situation in which
  • They wanted a return to the status quo before the war.

Aurora borealis

  • Northern lights
  • The sky was aflame with the aurora borealis, the eerily luminous northern lights.

Ex nihilo

  • Out of nothing
  • The event itself may be seen as either ex nihilo or order from preexisting chaos.

Per capita

  • By heads
  • They have the world’s largest per capita income.


  • Under penalty
  • The investigation will rely on existing powers to subpoena documents.

Ave Maria

  • Hail, Mary
  • Quiet night, we in the garden, pulling the song before the ensemble, Ave Maria.

Ex post facto

  • From a thing done afterward
  • No bill of attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.

Per diem

  • Per day
  • He received a per diem allowance to cover his travel expenses.

Tabula rasa

  • Scraped tablet
  • Like Raggedy Ann, she was a tabula rasa.


  • At, in, or of approximately
  • The picture shows Tsar Nicholas, circa 1914.
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Cool Latin Words and Phrases

Latin Words

Last Updated on February 21, 2023

5 thoughts on “Latin Words: 50 Cool Latin Words and Phrases You Should Know”

  1. Half of them are still commonly used in French sentences and words ahah. Learn them, and you’re closer to learn French than you could imagine


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