It may be ancient Latin, but the former lingua franca — common language — of the world is still alive and well as part of modern vernacular. But the literal translation isn't how all of these phrases are still used. Get ready to get studium (that’s schooled in Latin).
Quid Pro Quo
When entering into a quid pro quo arrangement with someone, you're promising to do something for them, if they do something in return — it's a trade-off. In Latin, it literally means something for something, and it was coined in the 16th century as a medical term to swap out one treatment for another.
This hopeful expression translates to “with good faith” in Latin. It's used today to describe anyone or anything that is legitimate or has strong credentials. In fact, the word has been reworked into a slangy noun – suggesting someone has "bonafides" means they come with strong recommendations or demonstrable wins under their belt.
Persona Non Grata
Whether the ex-spouse, or a disgraced celebrity, once labeled a persona non grata, they're simply not welcome. It’s one of more recent Latin terms adopted into English, coming from what’s called new Latin; it was first used around 1877.
A longtime favorite for tattoos and painted mottos, this short and sweet phrase is considered analogous to “seize the day.” More broadly, it comes from an ancient Latin poem — “pluck the day, trusting as little as possible in the next one.” It’s a nice sentiment, but decidedly less succinct for body art.
The status quo as often used as a replacement for "same old, same old." In Latin, the original phrase, in statu quo, translates into “the state in which.” It’s an even shorter take on a longer phrase that meant “in the state in which things were before the war.” In other words? Maybe the status quo isn’t always a bad thing.
The Latin phrase literally translates to "and the rest," and the abbreviation "etc." is still used to imply there are more similar items included in the list. It was first used in the Middle Ages and has remained one of the most persistent uses of Latin in modern English.
When doing things off the cuff, on a whim, or without a formal plan in place, that's ad hoc. In Latin, it literally means “to this” or “with respect to this.” While unplanned, using ad hoc properly will give some indication toward the topic or purpose. “We’re having this ad hoc meeting on safety procedures before we have another accident.”
In Latin, this phrase translates to “of fact.” It's used a little differently in modern parlance – for suggesting the default, assumed, or clear meanings or intentions, if not explicitly stated. To use it in a sentence, you may say, “Beyonce was the de facto leader of Destiny’s Child.”
This early 17th-century Latin expression means “in-turned position.” Modern English speakers use it to indicate things two things that are completely interchangeable, such as, “I can housesit for you this weekend, vice versa the next weekend.”
Main image photo credit: Luca Tosoni/ Unsplash