When you’re reading a Latin text, you might encounter words you don’t understand. You may want to know what that word means, but you’ll have to do some digging first. This article will help with that! We’ve collected 52 common Latin terms and their English equivalents.
et cetera is a Latin term that means “and so on”. It’s used to indicate that the list of things you are listing is not exhaustive and that it could continue indefinitely. In English, we use “etc.” instead of et cetera because we don’t have an equivalent word for et cetera in our language. You can also use et cetera as an adjective (et ceteras) or adverb (et ceterae). The word comes from the phrase “et cum his” which means “with these”.
Per capita is a Latin term that means “per person.” It’s often used in the context of government and economics to describe the population of something, such as a country or state. For example, if you are looking at the number of people living in California (which has a population of 39 million), per capita would mean dividing the total number by 39 million–or 0.000013%.
Bona fide is a Latin phrase that means “in good faith.” It is a basic principle of law and equity and describes the honesty in fact and the good faith belief of an actor that his conduct is lawful. For example, if you go to buy something at a store and give them your money for it, but they say they don’t have what you want in stock anymore, then this would be considered fraud because there was no intention on their part to sell anything to you or give back any money for what was already paid. However, if someone else comes along and does buy from them (and pays), then bona fide would apply because there was no intent on either party’s part to commit fraud–they simply wanted something different than what had been advertised originally.
Mens rea is the guilty mind. The mental element of a crime, it refers to the state of mind that the perpetrator must have when committing an act in order to be considered criminal. For example, if you accidentally hit someone with your car and kill them, it would be difficult for you to be convicted of murder because there was no intent on your part; however, if you intentionally run over someone with your car then perhaps a charge could be brought against you for manslaughter (or possibly even murder). The term mens rea has been used since at least 18th century England by English courts as part of their common law tradition; however its exact origins are unknown. Some scholars believe it comes from Roman law but this has not been proven definitively yet either way.
Persona non grata is a Latin term meaning “a person who is not acceptable to a particular group or area.” It’s usually used in reference to someone who has been blacklisted by the state, or otherwise unwelcome in their current location. The phrase comes from Roman law, where it meant “to declare someone an outlaw”. In modern times, persona non grata can be applied when you’re kicked out of your apartment because you have bad credit or have been acting inappropriately towards your landlord; if you are arrested for driving under the influence and receive probation instead of jail time; if you are denied entry into another country due to visa issues (for example: being convicted of assault).
Ad hoc is a Latin term meaning “for this”. It’s used to describe a solution that is temporary or improvised, and not the result of a comprehensive or rigorous process. Example: “The committee members had to make ad hoc decisions about what to do with the money they raised.”
This is Latin for “good faith.” Good faith is a legal term that refers to the duty of a person or organization to act in good faith in their dealings with others. Good faith is an essential element of many contracts and other legal agreements. For example, if you sign a contract with someone, you must honor its terms even if it’s not very advantageous for you at that particular time–or ever!
Vis-à-vis is a Latin term that means “face to face.” It can also mean “with respect to,” and it’s used in the context of comparing two or more things. In diplomacy, international relations and business negotiations (and sometimes law), vis-a-vis is a term used when discussing two countries’ positions on an issue or topic.
a posteriori: from the effect to the cause. In other words, you learn something by experience and observation. For example, if you drop an apple on your head and it hurts, then you know apples fall down when they’re dropped from high places onto people’s heads.
a priori: from the cause to the effect. In other words, we can know things without having any experience with them at all! This is because our minds are able to reason about reality in abstract ways and come up with truths about how things must be–even if those truths aren’t yet known through experience or observation (like knowing that if I drop this apple off of my roof onto my neighbor’s dog who is sleeping in their yard below me right now).