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Many of our readers are students, pursing Professional courses, like CA, CS, CMA, etc., aiming to be a great professional in their life. While going through the studies most of us find hard to understand the meaning of some terms, words and/ or expressions, due to their origin in different languages.This piece of writing is my deliberate attempt to make you aware of such terms, words, and/or expressions, with an aim to help you, during your studies.

English has borrowed generously from other languages, mostly from Latin, Greek, French and German. Many of the borrowed terms, words and/or expressions have been anglicized and today are an integral in English vocabulary in their original or modified form e.g., restaurant, rapport, viva voce, etc…

Jargon means language that is special to science, technology, art, or profession. There is for instance legal jargon, military jargon and political jargon.

These terms, words and/or expressions are liberally used in English and yet continue to return their foreign flavors. The expressions given below are of technical nature pertaining to law, philosophy, politics and ‘officialdom’.


WORDS

LANGUAGE OF ORIGIN

MEANING

ab initio

Latin

from the beginning

ab origin

Latin

from the origin

ad libitum

Latin

speak or perform in public without advance preparation

ad valorem

Latin

according to the value

ad hoc

Latin

a body elected or appointed for a particular work

ad infinitum

Latin

to infinity, endlessly, forever

a la carte

French

according to the card/list

a la mode

French

according to the fashion

amende honorable

French

a public apology

Apropos

Latin

with reference to

au fait

French

expert, having detailed knowledge

au revoir

French

until we meet again

avant-propos

French

preliminary matter, preface

avant-garde

French

new, unusual or experimental

bête noire

French

a special aversion

bona fide

Latin

good faith

Bizarre

French

strange unknown

bon voyage

French

have a good journey

casus belli

Latin

that which causes or justifies war

chef d’ oeuvre

French

masterpiece

Circa

Latin

approximately

Confere

French

colleague

Contretemps

French

a minor dispute or disagreement

corrigenda

Latin

a thing to be corrected (in a book)

coup d’etat

French

violent change in government

coup de grace

French

a finishing stroke

cul-de-sac

French

a blind valley

de facto

Latin

actual or in fact

de jure

Latin

from the law, by right

de novo

Latin

anew, again

dernier resort

French

last resort

Elite

Latin

the best part, the pick

entrepreneur

French

a person who sets up business taking greater financial risk

en masse

French

all together

en rapport

French

in harmony

Errata

Latin

list of errors

esprit de corps

French

the animating spirit of a particular group like a regiment

et cetera

Latin

and the rest

Eureka

Greek

i have found it

exempli gratia

Latin

for example

ex post facto

Latin

with retrospective action or force

faux pas

French

a social blunder

hoi polloi

Greek

the common people

id est

Latin

that is more precisely

Impasse

French

a deadlock

in extensor

Latin

in full

in memorium

Latin

in memory of

in toto

Latin

entirely /as a whole

laissez-faire

French

a policy of non-interference

mala fide

Latin

in bad faith

modus operandi

Latin

a way of doing something

mutatis mutandis

Latin

with the necessary changes

nota bene

Latin

note well

pari passu

Latin

side by side, equally or equivalently

per se

Latin

by itself

prima facie

Latin

at first view of consideration

probono public

Latin

for the good of the public

pro forma

Latin

denoting a standard document or form

pro rata

Latin

according to value or proportion

quid pro quo

Latin

a favor or advantage given in return for something

raison d’ etre

French

the most important reason for a thing’s existence

Resume

French

a summary or curriculum vitae

sanctum sanctorum

Latin

holy of holies

Seriatim

Latin

point by point

sine die

Latin

without a day being appointed

status quo

Latin

the existing condition

Stet

Latin

let it stand, do not deter

sub rosa

Latin

confidentially/done in secret

sui generis

Latin

in a class by itself

terra incognita

Latin

an unknown territory

ultra vires

Latin

beyond one’s authority

Verbatim

Latin

word for word

vice versa

Latin

conversely

Videlicet

Latin

namely, more formal term for ‘viz.’

vis-à-vis

French

in relation to, as compared with, as opposed to

viva voce

Latin

an oral examination

Zeitgeist

Greek

the defining spirit of a particular period or age


There is an aged old well-known saying “PEN IS MIGHTIER THAN THE SWORD”. Hence, one must learn the exact meaning of the words and more importantly their right usage to convey the information & expressing the ideas in the most proficient & valuable way.

I hope this piece of was helpful for you, please share your feedback.

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