Latin abbreviations in English


Latin abbreviations are very common in textbooks, newspapers, or magazines. The reason why Latin abbreviations have survived and continue to be used today is that it takes less time and fewer characters to write. When we properly use them, they can make our essays or articles quite interesting and easily understood. Let’s have a look at the most commonly used ones.

1. CV-Curriculum Vitae (The course of life)

It is a document containing a summary of a person’s job/education experience. It is always called a CV in English-speaking countries. Be careful because as a matter of fact, Curriculum in English means the subjects studied in school. Do not confuse CV with Curriculum.

2. e.g- exemplum gratia (for the sake of the example)

It is used to make an example.

‘’The North American Countries e.g USA and Canada are great places to visit’’

Here the writer or the speaker is listing several North American Countries.

3. i.e- id est (so to say/in other words)

It is used to introduce an explanation or a rephrasing.

‘’The North American Countries i.e the USA and Canada are great places to visit.’’

In this case, the writer is specifying exactly which countries to visit in North America.

4. etc- et cetera ( …and the other things )

We use it to show there are other items in a list you have not mentioned. It is mostly used to talk about objects and things.

Example: ‘’I need to go to the grocery store and I have to buy some broccoli, peppers, eggplants, etc.’’

5. If we want to talk about other people, especially in academic writing we have to use ET AL-ET ALIA/ET ALII (and the others)

We use it when listing the names of authors we are referring to.

Example: ‘’Daniel Steel et al’’

6. AM/PM – (before/after midday)

AM-Ante Meridiem

PM-Post Meridiem

It is commonly used to talk about the hour of the day.

5 AM-5 in the morning


7- V.V. = Vice Versa (with the order reversed)

 Used to say that what you have just said is also true in the opposite order

Example: He doesn't trust her, and vice versa (= she also doesn't trust him)

There are also some Latin words and phrases commonly used in business and science.

Ad hoc refers to something that is specifically designed or arranged for a given occasion. It is used in a business context and determines meetings and conferences.

Verbatim means “literally” and is commonly used in reports and quotations.

Modus operandi is used to describe a person’s method of work.

De jure stands for “according to the law.”

De facto is “true according to facts.”

Ergo is “therefore.”

Vis major indicates an act of God that is under a person’s or company’s influence.

So next time you read an article in a magazine, newspaper, or blog keep an eye on the use of Latin Abbreviations because Latin is still useful after all even though some consider it a dead language.