Any person aspiring to be a great writer has to make sure that he or she is sufficiently adept in grammar, punctuation, spelling, and is able to communicate to the reader multifarious ideas in a clear and succinct manner. An effective way to make sure the reader is hooked to your writing is to embellish your content with idioms and phrases that create a forceful impact on the overall message to be conveyed. Though Latin itself is a dead language, it provides several expressions and phrases that are not only essential for legal writing but which can also enhance your vocabulary skills in an impressive way. Following are 10 Latin phrases that you should be thoroughly familiar with. Once you gain a clear understanding, try to use them in the relevant context whenever you sit down to write anything:
1. Status Quo
Meaning- the existing state of affairs
Usage- This term is widely used among all, whether it be the elite brigade or the hoi polloi. I would be surprised if you have not heard about it. Status quo simply means the prevailing state of affairs and is commonly used in a political-social context. Example- The ruling political party was trying its best to preserve the status quo despite reports of strife among people. Or- Himanshu was content with his life and did not want to change the status quo.
2. Ad Hoc
Meaning- For this purpose only, something which happens for a particular purpose or need.
Usage- Ad-hoc is commonly used to refer to something which is not pre-planned e.g. an ad-hoc meeting or an ad-hoc committee formed to deal with particular issues. If you address problems on an ad-hoc basis, then it means you are dealing with problems as they happen, not which have been planned before.
3. Ad Nauseam
Meaning- To a sickening or a nauseating/excessive amount
Usage- The ‘nausea’ part will help you remember what this phrase implies. Let’s take an example- there is an extremely annoying friend of yours- a rich brat always who buys the latest iPhone the moment it is launched in the market. Now he cannot stop talking about it- ‘my gosh, my new iPhone has such awesome features ya…great UI, superb camera blah blah yakkity yak’ till you become totally sick listening to him. You can say that ‘he bragged about his new phone ad nauseam that I felt like banging my head against the wall.’ So next time if you hear someone blabbering non-stop, you can make a curt remark- ‘no matter how many people ignore him, that dude keep repeating himself ad nauseam.’
4. Carpe Diem
Meaning- Seize the day; enjoy the present without concern for the future
Usage- This term is widely used as an inspirational motto, urging people to bask in the glory of the present than be concerned about any worries that the future holds. It can also be used as a personal philosophy for students and working professionals who are so muddled up about thinking of the future that they forget to live in the present. For instance, suppose a student secures a good rank in an IIT or Civil Services exam. On listening to this news, he or she should celebrate- Carpe Diem!- instead of being concerned about how much hard work will be required in the future.
5. De Facto
Meaning- In fact, or something that exists in fact, whether or not legally recognized, intended or accepted
Usage- There are some things in the world that can be stated as a fact, whether or not they exists as a consequence of the codified law. For example, you can pretty much say that English is de facto the language of the world today. There might be more speakers of Mandarin; some countries may only use Spanish or French as the language of official communication, but it is common knowledge that if you are well-versed in English, you can easily adjust in any part of the world. Let’s take another example- the Pakistani military and the democratically-elected government. On the surface, the government seems to be the one ruling the country, but it is actually the military which calls the shots. So you can say that the Pakistani military is the de facto regime of the country- for this, it doesn’t need a formal approval by law.
6. Ipso Facto
Meaning- by the fact itself, by the very nature of the deed
Usage- Another fact-related term, ipso facto is used to state something that is based on facts which are already known. Example- A visually challenged person, ipso facto, is not entitled to a driver’s license. This means that because the person is visually challenged then the fact that he or she cannot see properly disqualifies them from obtaining a driver’s license. Another example- if you do not practice English speaking regularly then ipso facto, you will fail to give a decent presentation in front of a group of people.
7. Mea Culpa
Meaning- a formal acknowledgment of one’s fault or error
Usage- This is easy. If you have committed a mistake and wish to own up, then you can say mea culpa as an admission of your error. Example- If someone asks ‘Who is responsible for leaving the fans of the room on when we are trying to conserve electricity?’ The offender can say ‘Mea Culpa! I won’t do it again’. It sounds all fancy and formal but is actually quite cool to use.
8. Quid Pro Quo
Meaning- something given or received in return for something else
Usage- Though the meaning is crystal clear, let’s understand this phrase through a movie. If you have watched The Silence of the Lambs, you will understand what I am talking about. For the uninitiated, in this movie, FBI agent Clarice Starling goes to visit infamous cannibalistic serial killer Dr. Hannibal Lecter to procure information from him about another serial killer. They play a game of quid pro quo, in which she tells him stuff about her personal life and in exchange, he gives her hints about the killer. There is a give and take relationship involved- something for something.
9. Bona fide
Meaning- real, authentic, genuine, something done in good faith
Usage- Bona fide is associated with honesty and sincerity and something which is the real deal- not counterfeit. For instance- Rahul made a bona fide effort to succeed in the IIT exams. This means Rahul made a sincere attempt to be successful in the exams and did not resort to any shortcuts. Or- the Re 2000 note was bona fide and not fake.
10. Persona Non Grata
Meaning- a person who is not welcome or acceptable
Usage- Suppose you are having a house party and you have invited all your close friends and relatives. However, one of your obnoxious uncle with whom you never had a good relationship, also lands up at the party uninvited. Then for you, that uncle becomes a persona non grata- he is not welcome or acceptable. This term is frequently used in a political context. Let’s take the example of India and Pakistan- suppose Pakistan’s foreign ambassador is found to be leaking classified secrets of India. Now he has diplomatic immunity so he can’t be arrested but he can certainly be expelled and be declared as persona non grata. It means he is no longer welcome in the country because of his actions.
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