What did the Romans ever do for us?
Well increased our vocabulary for a start.
In Britain, many of us may pride ourselves on our Anglo-Saxon roots (and we have the expletives and drinking habits to prove them).
But much of our language has its origins in Europe, especially Rome and the Latin speaking Romans who invaded and settled here.
Some words or abbreviations we use without even thinking about their ‘foreigness.’ For example:
- etcetera / etc.
- et al
- in situ
- i.e. (Latin origin – id est)
- e.g. (Latin origin – exempli gratia)
- ergo (therefore).
We know some other words or phrases are Latin, but either because they have some specific technical or legal meaning (or we want to impress with our erudition) they are still in common use:
- In camera – in private
- In loco parentis – in place of the parent
- Habeas corpus (Literally – you may have the body – a legal right to prevent unlawful detention).
- Infra dig (full Latin = Infra dignatum – infra means below) – undignified.
- Ne plus ultra – perfection
- Inter alia – among other things.
- in extremis – at point of death
- non sequitor – (something) does not follow
- Ipso facto – by that very fact.
- Nil desperandum – never say die
Some Roman aphorisms remain well known: In vino veritas – people say what they really think when they’re drunk, and carpe diem – seize the day, are perhaps the best known.
One of my favourite phrases is nolens, volens – whether willing or not. Shakespeare, who studied Latin at school, was no doubt aware of this one when he ‘invented’ the phrase willy-nilly.
But then, as the Romans used to say: nil nove sub sole – there’s nothing new under the sun.
If you want to know more Latin phrases and tags with which to impress your friends and readers, then Eugene Ehrlich’s dictionary entitled Nil Desperadum is a good start.
If you have enjoyed reading my blog and want to read some of my stories (none of which are in Latin), please go to: