Welcome to the website woven for wordaholics, logolepts, and verbivores. Carnivores eat meat; herbivores eat plants and vegetables; verbivores devour words. If you are heels over head (as well as head over heels) in love with words, tarry here a while to graze or, perhaps, feast on the English language. Ours is the only language in which you drive in a parkway and park in a driveway and your nose can run and your feet can smell.

etymology

 

A good half of the Latin vocabulary from back when Nero was emperor has found its way into English, and at least 60 percent of our English words are derived from Latin. Battalions of English words descend from Latin words that have remained unchanged for more than 2,000 years.

These pristine words include actor, agenda, alibi, animal, basis, benefactor, camera, campus, character, circus, comma, crisis, deficit, diploma, doctor, drama, echo, editor, elevator, epitome, extra, favor, focus, formula, genius, gusto, honor, humor, hyphen, interest, interior, item, janitor, labor, liquor, major, maximum, medium, minus, motor, narrator, nausea, neuter, oasis, omen, opera, paralysis, plus, prior, professor, quota, rancor, recipe, rigor, rumor, saliva, sculptor, senator, senior, series, splendor, terror, trio, trivia, ulterior, vacuum and veto.

These are thrilling times for those of us who venerate Latin. A Latin term, previously confined to the legal lexicon and the study of the Latin language, has become the most pervasive three words in America. The use of quid pro quo, essentially, “something for something,” to describe President Trump’s controversial offer to the Ukrainian government has emblazoned those three Latin words on our culture.

Latin is alive and well and living robustly in the phrases that we use every day, so that even if you have never studied Latin, the language pervades your speech, your writing and your very thoughts. To demonstrate how a knowledge of Latin gives one an ad-vantage, I’ll start with a few common ad- expressions: ad hoc (“for a specific occasion or purpose” ), ad hominem (“relating to an individual”) and ad lib (shortening of ad libitum, “at pleasure, freely”).

I could go on ad infinitum (“to infinity, endlessly”) and ad nauseam (“to the point of sickness or disgust”). Instead, I offer, alphabetically, a short list of bona fide (“in good faith,” genuine) Latin phrases that are commonly used and encountered by speakers and writers of English, along with translations:

alma mater: “nurturing mother,” usually with reference to schools and colleges alter ego: “one’s second self” anno Domini: “in the year of our Lord”) a priori: “from the former,” deductive reasoning from causes to effects, the opposite of a posteriori; carpe diem: “seize the day” cogito ergo sum:I think; therefore, I am” caveat emptor: “let the buyer beware” cum laude: “with praise,” with academic honors de facto: “existing by fact,” opposite of de jure; delirium tremens: “delusions and trembling”; deus ex machina: “god from a machine” dramatis personae: “characters of a drama” et al.: shortening of et alia: “and others” et cetera: “and the rest” ex cathedra: “from a seat, or position, of authority” ex officio: “from an office held” habeas corpus: “you should have the body,” a writ requiring the appearance of a prisoner in court in absentia: “in the absence of” in extremis: “at the point of extremity” in flagrante delicto: “in the heat of the crime”; in loco parentis: “in place of the parent” in memoriam: “in memory of” (often misspelled in memorium) in re: “in the matter of” inter alia: “among other things” ipso facto: “by the fact itself” magnum opus: “most important work” mea culpa: “I am guilty” modus operandi: “method of operation” modus vivendi: “mode of living” nolo contendere: “I do not wish to contend”; non compos mentis: “not in control of one’s mind” non sequitur: “it does not follow” nota bene: “note well”: obiter dictum: “incidental remark” op cit: shortening of opere citato “in the work cited” per annum: “each year” per capita:”by head” per diem: “each day” per se:”by itself” persona non grata: “unwelcome person”;  post facto: “after the fact” prima facie: “on first sight, at first impression” reductio ad absurdum: “reduction to absurdity” by assuming a conclusion to be incorrect and working back to find a contradiction rigor mortis: stiffness of death” RIP: abbreviation of requiescat in pace, “may he rest in peace” sine qua non: “that without which,” essential precondition status quo: “things as they are” sub rosa: “under the rose;” a mark of secrecy tempus fugit: “time flies.”

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The word amateur is derived from the very first verb that all students of Latin learn — amo: “I love.” Amateurs do it for the love of it. Whether it be golf, fishing, quilting or model trains, it can only be out of love that the amateur pours so many hours into an unremunerative pursuit.