While there may not be cities and countries full of people speaking Latin these days, that doesn't mean the ancient language is something you can just forget about. Not only are many of our words in English (not to mention many other languages) derived from Latin, but many of its words words are still used in today's daily speaking and writing. So while you may not need to learn to speak or read the Latin language fluently, it can still be a big help in your quest for higher education to know a few words and phrases. Here are some of the most commonly used Latin expressions that you should learn to start improving your personal lexicon.
Must-Learn Terms 必记的术语
If you don't know these Latin terms, get to learning them ASAP, as they are commonly used in speaking and writing and may be hard to avoid.
Per se: （就其本身而言）
The direct translation of this term is "by itself" and it means just that when used in English as well. You could use it to say that you don't find chemistry boring per se (by itself, intrinsically), but this professor's voice puts you to sleep.
Vice versa: （反之亦然）
From the Latin meaning "to change" or "turn around," this term means to reverse the order of something . This quote from Samuel Butler provides an example, "In the midst of vice we are in virtue, and vice versa."
Alma mater: （母校 尤指大学）
If you don't know this term already, you'll become quite familiar with it once you graduate from college. The literal translation is "dear/bountiful mother" but you'll find it used in everyday language to denote the college or university from which one has graduated.
Whether it's in writing, painting, sculpture or music, this Latin term denotes the greatest work done by an artist-- a true masterpiece.
While it's literal translation means "good faith" this term has a few different shades of meaning in modern language. In legal terms, it is used to represent something that is presented without deception or fraud, or literally in good faith, honest, sincere and lawful. It is more commonly used to mean something that's the real deal or truly authentic.
In Latin, this word means as if or as though and in English it is used as both an adjective in its own right and as a part of a compound word. It simply designates something that resembles something else but doesn't quite have all the same features.
Cicero coined this term, most likely taken from the Greek, to mean "a second self" or "another I" and its modern meaning hasn't changed much today. Many people have an alter ego, or another, perhaps hidden aspect of themselves. One example from popular culture is Beyonce's alter ego, Sasha Fierce.
If you repeat something verbatim you repeat it in exactly the same words, word for word with no changes and no improvisation.
From the Latin meaning "the state in which" this term is used today to designate the existing state or condition of things. For example, if you're making money off of a high pollution industry it is to your interests to maintain the status quo when it comes to environmental law.
Knowing just what these terms and words mean can be a big help in improving your reading comprehension.知道这些拉丁文可以有效地提高你的阅读理解能力。
Found in writing, this Latin word most commonly finds a home in brackets (like this: [sic]) when quoting a statement or writing. It indicates that there is a spelling or grammar error (or just something out of the ordinary) in the original quotation and that the publication has only reproduced it faithfully, not made an error of their own.
You've likely seen this term in writing before, even if you weren't aware as it is commonly abbreviated to i.e. In Latin, it means "that is" and is used in English when the speaker or writer wants to give an example or explanation that specifies a statement.
Deus ex machina（解围的人或事件）
In direct translation, this term means, "God out of a machine" and it harkens back ancient Greek and Roman plays. When the plot would become too tangled or confusing, the writers would simply bring in God, lowered in via a pulley system (the machine) and he would wrap it all up. Today, it's still used in literature to describe a plot where an artificial or improbable means of resolving a conflict is used.
Exempli gratia（缩写是e.g.,这通常会用在例子前面，for the sake of example）
You'll often see this term abbreviated to e.g. in writing. It means "for the sake of example" and when it see it in a sentence you can expect that is will be followed by some examples.
Et cetera（缩写是etc. 意思是and the others还有其他的）
Few out there aren't familiar with this term but may not know it as well when it's spelled out like this and not abbreviated as etc. Meaning "and the others" it is used to denote that a list of things could continue ad infinitum (see below for definition) and that for the sake of brevity it's better to just wrap things up with a simple etc.
Ex libris（专指书籍 从...图书馆来）
Back in the days when books were rarer and more expensive commodities than they were today, it was common to mark your books with a label bearing your own name and this phrase which means "from the library of." While not as common today, some true bibliophiles still use the labels.
Another abbreviated term, this word is more commonly seen in research writing in the form of "ibid." From the Latin for "in the same place" it is found in footnotes and bibliographies to designate that the same source has been cited twice in succession.
Et alii（缩写是et al, 通常用在一本合著的书的某一个作者名字之后以省略罗列其他的作者名字）
You're unlikely to encounter this Latin phrase in its unabbreviated form, and will most likely only ever see it as et al when included. This is also a term that is found in footnotes and bibliographies which allows writers to refer to a large number of authors without having to write each name out (for example, you could say that your source is Dr. Henry Jones et al.)
Everyday Talk 日常生活中常用到的拉丁语
You've likely heard these words and phrases on the news or in conversations, and if you didn't know what they meant then, these definitions will help make it clear now.
Ad infinitum（to infinity 无止尽的）
You might be able to guess what this phrase means simply through its similarity to the word we use in English. It means "to infinity" and can be used to describe something that goes on, seemingly or actually endlessly, as some students might feel about certain classes.
In Latin, de facto means "from the fact" and in use in English it is often used to distinguish was is supposed to be the case from what is actually the reality. For example, legally, employers are not allowed to discriminate in hiring because of age, but many still practice de facto (in reality, in fact) discrimination.
In toto（in total, 总的来说/整体上）
No, this phrase doesn't mean that the cute little dog from The Wizard of Oz ate something, it means in all or entirely. Think of it as saying "in total" in a really weird voice.
Meaning "by the fact itself" this commonly used and misused term is denotes when something is true by its very nature. For example, if you don't feed your dog you are ipso facto a bad owner.
When you were a child, your mind might have been more of a tabula rasa than it is today. This Latin phrase means "clean slate" and denotes something or someone not affected by experiences and impressions.
Those who hate to fly or get seriously seasick will be able to put this term to good use. It means firm ground, and you might be thanking your lucky stars to be back on it after a trip through the air or rough waters.
If you want to admit your own guilt or wrongdoing in a situation, use this Latin phrase that translates literally to "my fault." It's a bit like a fancier, less outdated way of saying "my bad."
Persona non grata（不受欢迎的人）
From the Latin meaning an "unacceptable person" this term designates someone who's no longer welcome in a social or business situation.
If something happens in situ it happens in place or on site, though the term often designates something that exists in an original or natural state. Like a rare species sighted in situ or an invaluable artifact found on an archeological site.
Most students will be familiar with this term because of modern fertility treatments, but have you ever considered what the term actually means? In Latin, in vitro means "in glass" and any biological process that occurs in the laboratory rather than in the body or a natural setting can be called in vitro.
While an experiment taking place in a glass test tube might not cause a stir, many are up in arms about this kind of experimentation. In vivo means "within the living" and the two most common examples of this kind of experimentation are animal testing and clinical trials.
During your history courses, you're bound to encounter this term. It means in the most basic sense "before the war" and while it can be applied to any war it is most commonly used to refer to the American Civil War and the Antebellum Era the preceded it.