Et Cetera and Beyond: Common Latin Words in Everyday English

Grover Laughtonreviewed byKateryna Protsenko / more about Editorial Process6 min
Created: Mar 13, 2024Last updated: Apr 2, 2024
Latin Words in English

Latin, the ancient language of the Roman Empire, has left an indelible mark on the English language. There are numerous Latin words in English, either those used in specific fields like science or medicine or those commonly used in casual conversations. In today’s article, we’ll explore different terms and phrases that came from Latin or have Latin roots. So please, make yourself comfortable, and let’s dive right in!

Most Common Latin Words for Daily Conversations

For starters, let’s begin with some very familiar terms. They are often used in business settings or in casual discussions. Here is the list of different Latin words that remain the same in the modern English language.

  • Agenda – a list or schedule of items to be addressed or discussed, typically in a meeting or event.

In Latin, this term is the plural form of “agendum,” which means “a thing to be done.” It comes from the verb “agere,” meaning “to do” or “to act.” For example:

Let’s go over the agenda for today’s meeting.

  • Naive – a term used to describe someone who lacks experience or sophistication, often leading them to be overly trusting or easily deceived.

The origin behind this word is the Latin “nativus,” which means “natural” or “innate,” which with time evolved into “naivus,” meaning “natural” or “simple.” For example:

She was too naive to realize he was only pretending to be her friend.

  • Plausible – something that seems reasonable or believable, though not necessarily proven to be true.

It comes from the Latin word “plausibilis,” which is derived from the word “plaudere” – to applaud or to approve. For example:

His explanation seemed plausible, but I’m not entirely convinced.

  • Alibi – evidence or testimony that proves someone was elsewhere when a crime was committed, thereby providing them with a defense.

This is one of the most well-known Latin words in the English language. It is derived from the Latin term of the same name, meaning “elsewhere” or “on another place.” For example:

She had a solid alibi, as she was at a restaurant with friends during the time of the robbery.

  • Verbatim – word for word, indicating an exact repetition or transcription of something spoken or written.

This one is the Latin adverb that didn’t even change its original form. It also preserved the same meaning as the initial term. For example:

Can you repeat what he said verbatim?

Common Roots in English Words Derived from Latin

Latin has also left a significant footprint in English through its vast number of roots, which has resulted in the creation of numerous new words. Below, you can find a list of common Latin roots and examples of modern words that have evolved from them.

  • Aqua – water.

Aquarium – tank or container in which aquatic plants and animals are kept.

Aquamarine – a blue-green variety of beryl, resembling the color of seawater.

  • Aud – hearing or listening.

Audience – a group of people assembled to watch or listen to a performance, speech, or event.

Audio – sound, especially when recorded, transmitted, or reproduced.

  • Bene – good or well.

Benefit – advantage or profit gained from something.

Benevolent – well-meaning and kindly.

  • Contra – against or opposite.

Contradict – to assert the opposite of a statement made by someone.

Contrary – opposite in nature, direction, or meaning.

  • Domin – rule or mastery.

Dominant – exercising control or influence over others.

Predominant – having greater power, authority, or influence.

  • Dict – saying or speaking.

Dictate – command or order authoritatively.

Dictionary – a book or electronic resource that lists words in alphabetical order and gives their meanings.

  • Extra – beyond or outside.

Extraordinary – remarkable or exceptional, going beyond what is usual or ordinary.

Extraterrestrial – outside or originating outside the Earth or its atmosphere.

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Abbreviations in Latin Language Examples

Finally, another incredibly widespread thing that English inherited from Latin is the number of abbreviations and contractions mostly used in written language. Therefore, we’ve created a list of such abbreviations, and you can find it below.

  • etc. – et cetera – and other things, and so forth.

It is used to indicate that there are other similar items or examples that could be included but are not explicitly mentioned. For example:

She enjoys hiking, swimming, biking, etc.

  • e.g. – exempli gratia – for example.

This abbreviation introduces one or more examples of something previously mentioned. For example:

There are many outdoor activities to enjoy, e.g., hiking, camping, and fishing.

  • i.e. – id est – that is.

This one is used to clarify or rephrase something previously stated. It indicates that what follows is an explanation or expansion of the preceding statement. For example:

She prefers outdoor activities, i.e., activities that involve being outside in nature.

  • a.m. and p.m. – ante meridiem (before noon) and post meridiem (after noon).

These abbreviations are used to denote time in the 12-hour clock system. A.m. refers to the time from midnight to noon, while p.m. refers to the time from noon to midnight. For example: 

The meeting is scheduled for 10:00 a.m.

  • ca./c. – circa – around, approximately.

It is used before a date or time to indicate that it is approximate or not exact. For example:

The building was constructed in the 19th century, ca. 1870.

  • C.V. – curriculum vitae – course of life; commonly referred to as a resume.

This is one of the most common Latin words used in English to refer to a detailed document listing a person’s educational and professional qualifications, work experience, achievements, and other relevant information when applying for a job or academic position. For example:

Can you please send me your C.V.?

  • lb./lbs. – libra – pound/pounds.

These abbreviations are used to denote weight in pounds. For example: 

The package weighs 5 lbs.

  • Ph.D. – Philosophiae Doctor – Doctor of Philosophy.

The last abbreviation in the list is used to denote the highest academic degree awarded by universities in many countries. It is typically earned after completing advanced research in a specific field and defending a doctoral dissertation. For example:

He’s a well-known Ph.D. from Cambridge.

Nail Easy Latin Words in English with Promova

English is a beautiful language consisting of many borrowed words that come from Latin and other foreign tongues. However, to become fluent in it, you need to focus not only on vocabulary but also on other skills, including speaking, reading, and writing. With Promova, you can master them all using many practical features.

Our personal and group lessons with professional tutors can help you reach your linguistic goals in a convenient way. And you can always book a free trial one-on-one lesson to familiarize yourself with the studying process before making your final decision. 

For those who prefer studying alone, Promova offers a convenient application available for both iOS and Android devices. Additionally, if your goal is to practice speaking, you can join our free Conversation Club and discuss various exciting topics with fellow learners. As you can see, there are a lot of options to choose from. So don’t hesitate, and find the one that works for you!

Conclusion

All in all, the lasting influence of Latin on the English language is undeniable. From everyday conversations to specialized fields like science and law, Latin words and roots have shaped almost every aspect of English vocabulary. 

FAQ

Are there any Latin basic words that now have different meanings?

Yes, there are plenty of them. For example, the Latin word “persona” initially described a theatrical mask, but now it is used to describe one’s social role or identity.

Why is Latin considered a dead language?

It is because it is no longer the native language of any community and has stopped developing as a spoken language. Nowadays, it is primarily used in liturgical, scientific, legal, and academic contexts.

Is it essential to learn common Latin words?

While not entirely essential, it can still be quite beneficial for various reasons. Understanding Latin roots can help in learning and understanding other tongues, especially Romance ones. Additionally, many Latin phrases and English words from Latin are still used in various contexts, including legal, governmental, academic, and religious institutions.

What are some other languages that have Latin words apart from English?

Several languages besides English have borrowed Latin words due to historical, cultural, and linguistic influences. Some of them include Romance ones, like French, Spanish, Italian, and Germanic tongues, including German, Dutch, and some Scandinavian languages.

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