24 Latin Phrases You Should Know

ad hoc
“with regard to this”
improvised, made up, last minute
ad nauseam
“until you’re sick”
going on and on, or gets said over and over again
alter ego
“another me”
aqua vitae
“the water of life”
something that heals, usually alcohol
carpe diem
“seize the day” don’t put things off, do them now
approximately but not exactly
deus ex machine
“a god out of a machine”
an outside force that comes down and fixes everything
et cetera
“and other things”
in medias res
“into the middle of things”
starting a story in the middle of a climactic moment, then setting it up in flashback
non sequitor
“it does not follow”
something that doesn’t follow logically from what came before
modus operandi
“manner of operating”
standard operating procedure
per capita
“by heads”
per diem
“by the day”
persona non grata
“a person who’s not acceptable”
“as if”
quid pro quo
“something for something”
semper fidelis
“always faithful”
the motto of the marine corps
used to indicate that you’re quoting something as is and you know there’s a mistake
sine qua non
“without which there’s nothing”
status quo
“the state of things as is”
the existing state of affairs
tabula rasa
“a tablet that’s been scraped clean”
blank slate, a state of innocence
terra incognita
“unknown land”
something that’s completely unknown and unexplored
quoted exactly, word for word
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