How do I know what these terms they use in Court mean? I do not speak Latin?
There are many terms used in our legal system that are not in English. This is done to keep the common man ignorant of exactly what a certain Law or phrase means. Knowing that ignorance is no excuse to break the Law, they write the Laws in a language that cannot be understood by the majority of the population.
This is intentionally done to scare you into a plea because those Latin terms are terrifying, and not understandable. By making our Law Systems above the intellect of the common man they retain control over us.
Take the time to educate yourself, if you are in Court and you are not able to understand what is being said, ask questions.
Even if you are represented by a lawyer do not just let things go by that you do not understand. It is very simple, ask the Judge to define and explain everything to you that you do not understand.
Do not be coerced into taking a plea or settling for less then what you think is fair and just.
SPEAK UP! Tell the Judge you have questions concerning Court procedures. If you do not understand what you are being charged with, how could you make an intelligent plea.
Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum viditur
quidquid latine dictum sit altum viditur. Whatever is said in Latin seems profound.
a fortiori. "with even stronger reason," which applies to a situation in which if one thing is true then it can be deduced that a second thing is even more certainly true.
a posteriori. relating to or originating by reasoning from the observation of facts
a priori. from what was before.
ab incunablis. from infancy
ab initio. from the beginning
ab intra. from within.
ab urbe condita from when the city was founded. The city considered in the quote is the city of Rome.
ad absurdum. to the point of preposterousness.
ad eundem. to the same level.
ad eundem gradum. to the same degree.
ad hoc. for this special intent.
ad hominem. represents an argument made personally against an opponent, rather than a logical argument against an issue.
ad idem. of the same mind.
ad infinitum. without limit.
ad libitum. according to pleasure.
ad litem. for the suit.
ad locum at the place.
ad nauseam. to a repulsive extent.
History of the Latin Language.
Latin started as a language of farmers and shopkeepers. It was used primarily in Rome and its territories.
Regardless of its humble beginnings, Latin soon became the language of the higher echelons of civilization. It quickly spread throughout the complete Western area of the Roman empire.
There are not many languages that have become so successful. Even more amazing is the spread of the Latin language after the Roman empire fell.
Latin that was verbally spoken, continued to remain stable for a long time. In fact it never died, it was simply altered through each generation. The language branched out into many different directions forming the foundation of the Romance languages.
Written Latin remained in use. It was used as the primary means of communications within churches and schools, where not only was it spoken but it was also written as well.
Eventually medieval Latin was not a language which belonged to any Nation, its use consisted primarily of the higher educated members of society.
ad valorem. corresponding to value.
addenda. things to be attached.
advocatus diaboli. devil's advocate.
affidavit. a sworn written statementthat can be used as evidence in court.
agenda. things to be done (This usually consists of points to be addressed during a meeting.)
alea iacta est. the die is cast .
alma mater. someone's old school or university.
alter ego. separate self.
amicus curiae. ally of the court.
amicus omnibus, amicus nemini. a friend to everyone is a friend to none.
anno domini (abbreviated AD). in the year of the Lord.
annus horribilis. a horrible year.
annus mirabilis. a fantastic year.
ante bellum. prior to the war.
ante meridiem (abbreviated a.m.). before noon.
aqua fortis. nitric acid.
aqua pura. pure water.
ars gratia artis. art for the sake of art.
aude sapere. have the courage to know.
audi alteram partem. to listen to the other side (one of the standards of natural justice).
Latin Law Dictionaries
bella gerant alii. let wars be waged by others
bona fide (adjective). authentic, honest.
bona fide (adverb). authentic, honestly.
bona fides (noun). honest purpose.
cadit quaestio (abbr. cq). the question falls; the matter admits no further argument, the facts have been verified.
caret. it is lacking (used in editing to point out that something is to be appended ).
carpe diem. seize the day.
casus belli. the consideration rationalizing war.
cave canem. beware of the canine.
caveat emptor. the buyer should beware.
caveat lector. the reader should beware.
caveat venditor.the seller should beware.
ceteris paribus. other things being equivalent or untouched.
circa (abbr.c. and followed by a date). around ex. circa 1989.
cogito, ergo sum. I think, therefore I am.
compos mentis. stable, lucid, sane.
confer (abbr. cf.). put side by side.
cor unum. one heart.
corpus delicti. the facts of a wrongdoing.
corrigenda. a list of things to be rectified (as in a book).
cui bono? who benefits?
cui malo? who suffers a disadvantage?
cum grano salis. with a grain of salt (not to be taken literally)
curriculum vitae. a summation of a person's career.
de facto. in fact (especially in marked differentiation to "de jure")
de gustibus non est disputandum. there is no explaining for taste.
de jure.by right (in particular in marked differentiation to "de facto").
de minimis. with respect to triviality.
de novo. afresh
delectatio morosa. grouchy gladness.
deo duce. having God as a leader.
deo gratias. give thanks to God.
deo volente. God willing.
deus ex machina. a manufactured event that determines a problem at the last moment (taken literally as, "a god from a machine").
dictum meum pactum. my word is my oath.
dictum sapienti sat est. a word to the wise is satisfactory.
dramatis personae. the list of characters in a play.
dulce et decorum est pro patria mori. it is sweet and proper to die for one's country
dum spiro, spero. as long as I breathe, I hope
dum vires annique sinunt, tolerate labores. while strength and years allow, tolerate labor.
dura lex, sed lex. the law is cruel, but it is the law.
ecce homo. observe the man.
ego. realization of one's own identity.
eiusdem generis. of the same kind.
emeritus. retired after notable service and retaining an honorary title (example, emeritus professor).
errata. a list of mistakes(in a book).
et alia. among other things.
et alii (abbr, et al.). and others.
et cetera (abbr. etc.). and so on.
et sequentes (abbr. et seq. or seqq.). and those that follow.
et uxor (abbr. et ux.). and wife.
ex cathedra. (of a proclamation) ceremoniously, with official authority.
ex curia. outside of the court.
ex delicto. arising out of wrongs.
ex gratia. completely as a favour.
ex libris. from the library of.
ex nihilo. out of nothing.
ex officio. by benefit of his office.
ex parte. by only one party to a disagreement in the absence of the other.
ex post facto. with hindsight.
excusatio non petita, accusatio manifesta.he who excuses himself, accuses himself
exeat. authorization for a momentary absence.
exempli gratia (abbr. e.g.). for example.
fama nihil est celerius. nothing is quicker than a rumour.
fiat. let it be done.
floruit. he flourished.
functus officio. having satisfied his duty and as a consequence ceased to have any authority over a matter.
gaudeamus igitur. so let us celebrate.
habeas corpus. you may have the body. (The opening words of a prerogative writ requiring a person holding another person to bring that person before a court.)
hic jacet. here lies.
honoris causa. as a mark of honor.
ibidem (abbr. ibid. in quotations of books, etc.). in the same place.
id est (abb. i.e.). that is.
idem. the same.
imprimatur. let it be printed.
in absentia. while absent.
in camera. in private session.
in casu. in this case.
in casu extremae necessitatis. in case of extreme necessity.
in curia. in court.
in deo speramus. in God we trust.
in extenso. at full length.
in extremis. near death.
in flagrante delicto. in the very act of committing an offence.
in illo tempore. at that time.
in loco extremis. in the farthest place.
in loco parentis. in place of a parent.
in medias res. in the midst of things.
in memoriam. in memory.
in re. in the matter of.
in silico. by means of a computer simulation.
in situ. in its original situation.
in specie. in kind; (a) in its own form and not in a corresponding form (b) in coins and not in paper money.
in toto. entirely.
in vino veritas. in wine there is truth.
in vitro. observable in a glass test tube; outside the living body and in an artificial environment.
in vivo. happening within a living organism.
index librorum prohibitorum. official list of the books not to be read by Catholics.
infra. below or on a later page.
infra dig. unbecoming.
inter alia. among other things.
inter se. among themselves.
inter vivos. during life.
intra muros. within the walls.
intra vires. within the power.
ipso facto. by that very fact.
latine dictum. spoken in Latin.
loco citato (abbr. loc. cit.). in the passage just quoted.
locum tenens. one occupying the place.
locus sigilli (abbr.l.s.). the place of the seal.
locus standi. the right to be heard in court.
magna carta. Great Charter (issued by King John in 1215, permitting various liberties).
magna cum laude. with great honour or academic distinction.
magnum opus. great work.
me judice. I being the judge; in my opinion
mea culpa. by my fault (used as a recognition of one's error).
memento mori. remember that you have to die.
memorandum. a thing to be remembered.
mens rea. guilty mind.
mens sana in corpore sano. a sound mind in a sound body.
mirabile dictu. wonderful to relate.
modus operandi. the manner of working.
modus vivendi . A manner of living; a way of life.
monumentum aere perennius. an immortal work of art or literature.
multi multa; nemo omnia novit. many know many things; no one knows everything.
multum in parvo. much in a small compass.
multus amicus, nullus amicus. a friend to all is a friend to none.
mutatis mutandis.the necessary changes being made.
ne plus ultra. the highest standard of excellence.
nemine contradicente (abbr. nem. con.). unanimously.
nemine dissentiente (abbr. nem. dis.). unanimously.
nihil obstat. nothing stands in the way.
nil desperandum. there is no cause for despair.
nolens volens. whether one likes it or not; willing or unwilling.
nolle prosequi. to be unwilling to prosecute.
non compos mentis. insane.
non sequitur. it does not follow.
noscitur a sociis. the meaning of a word can be known from the context.
nota bene (abbr. NB). note well.
numero pondere et mensura deus omnia condidit. God created everything by number, weight and measure
Do you want to learn Latin?
o tempora, o mores! oh, the times! oh, the morals!
obiter dictum. a saying by the way.
omne ignotum pro magnifico est. all things unknown seem grand.
omnia mutantur, nos et mutamur in illis. all things are changing, and we are changing with them.
omnia vincit amor, nos et cedamus amori. love conquers all things, let us too yield to love.
opere citato (abbr.op. cit.). in the work just quoted.
pari passu. equally.
parturiunt montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. great promises, but no result or only a ludicrous result.
passim. in various places.
pax intrantibus. peace to those who enter.
pax vobiscum. peace be with you.
pedente lite. pending the suit.
per annum. per year.
per ardua ad alta. through difficulties to the heights.
per ardua ad astra.through difficulties to the stars.
per capita. by the head.
per centum. per hundred.
per diem. per day.
per mensem. per month.
per omnia saecula saeculorum. for ever and ever.
per procurationem (abbr. per pro or pp). as agent for.
per se. taken alone.
persona non grata. a non-acceptable person.
post hoc ergo propter hoc. after this, therefore because of this (a logical fallacy).
post meridiem (abbr. p.m.). after noon.
post mortem. after death.
prima facie. on a first view.
primus inter pares. first among equals.
pro bono publico. in the public good.
pro bono. done without charge in the public interest.
pro forma. for the sake of form.
pro hac vice. for this occasion.
pro rata. according to the rate.
pro se. on one's own behalf.
pro tanto. to that extent.
pro tempore (abbr. pro tem). for the time being.
proximo (abbr. prox.). of the next month.
qua. in the capacity of.
quantum in me fuit. I have done my best.
quasi. as if.
qui desiderat pacem, praeparet bellum. let him who desires peace prepare for war.
quid pro quo. something for something.
quis custodiet ipsos custodes? who is guarding the guards?
quo in casu. in which case.
quo vadis? where are you going?
There are many sayings that are used in our everyday lives that are part of the Latin language.
Although being foreign in origin these sayings have become a part of the English language, except most of us have no idea what they mean.
I have compiled this list of Latin sayings to aid you in understanding things that are said, as well as things that you read. It is very important for the individual to understand his/her surroundings.
Sometimes we read things or hear them and disregard the fact that we have not understood what was said. It is always in your best Interest to acquire as much knowledge as is possible.
quod erat demonstrandum (abbr. QED). which was to be proved.
quod erat faciendum (abbr. QEF). which was to be done.
quod vide (abbr. q.v.). which see.
ratio decidendi. the reason for the decision.
ratio legis est anima legis. the reason of the law is the soul of the law.
re. in the matter of.
reductio ad absurdum. reduction to the absurd.
requiescat in pace. rest in peace.
res ipsa loquitur. the thing speaks for itself.
res tantum valet quantum vendi potest. a thing is worth only what someone else will pay for it.
rigor mortis. the stiffening of a body after death.
salve (plural salvete). hail; welcome.
semel in anno licet insanire. one can act the fool once a year.
semper fidelis. always faithful.
senatus populusque Romanus (abbr. SPQR ). the Senate and the people of Rome.
sensu stricto. in a narrow or strict sense.
seqq. and those that follow.
seriatim. one after another in order.
si vis pacem, para bellum. if you want peace, prepare for war.
sic. thus (used in quoted passages to indicate that an error has been intentionally reproduced).
sic transit gloria mundi. thus passes the glory of the world.
silentium est aureum. silence is golden.
silva rerum. an assorted collection of facts.
simpliciter. naturally; without qualification.
sine anno (abbr. s.a.). year not known.
sine die. without stipulating a day.
sine qua non. an indispensable condition.
status quo. the existing condition.
stet. let it stand (used in editing to signify that something crossed out is to remain).
sub judice. before a court.
sub rosa. in confidence.
sub verbo. under the word.
sui generis. of its own kind.
supra. above or on an earlier page.
suum cuique. to each his own.
tabula rasa. a clean slate; an opportunity to start from the beginning.
tempus fugit. time flies.
tempus fugit, mors venit. time passes, death advances.
terra firma. dry land.
terra incognita. unknown land.
terra nullius. uninhabited land.
timeo danaos et dona ferentes. I fear the Greeks, even when they bring gifts.
uberrimae fidei. of the utmost good faith.
ultimo (abbr. ult.). of the previous month.
ultra vires. beyond the power.
vade mecum. a constant companion.
vale (plural valete). farewell.
velle est posse. where there is a will, there is a way.
veni, vidi, vici. I came, I saw, I conquered.
verbatim. exactly as said.
verbum sat sapienti (abbr. verb. sap.). a word to the wise is sufficient.
vi et armis. by force and arms.
vice. in place of.
vice versa. the order being reversed.
videlicet (abbr. viz.). namely.
vires acquirit eundo. we gather strength as we go.
virgo intacta. virgin.
volenti non fit injuria. that to which a man consents cannot be considered an injury.
vox populi. voice of the people
The materials available on this hub are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. All materiel are copyrighted properties of the author and may not be used without permission of the author.
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Arooj Baloch on July 26, 2020:
Its really informative content.
Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on August 26, 2012:
Well done piece I enjoyed it. Nowadays the problem would be that the very judge using the terms would not get them. Same can be true of the logic of evidence rules, it is a passing art.
STANLEY PAUL KATIKALA on December 21, 2011:
I HEARD THESE WORDS SOME WHERE,I UNDERSTOOD THEM NEARLY.TODAY I UNDERSTAND THEM WITH AUTHORITY.
thurayya on October 28, 2011:
thank u 4 the good work and thanx 4 not being selfish.am using your work to help me in my corse work.
damalie on October 25, 2011:
why is latin a language 4 lawyers
Dada_Phil from Texas on February 20, 2011:
I didn't know there were so many books on the subject. It would be great to find an article that details the historical connection between legal Latin and ecclesiastical Latin. Obviously, the connection comes from the historical influence that Rome and the Church had on western civilization. Pretty intense and heady topic in itself.
wat eber on January 06, 2011:
asking saves a lot of guesswork
Reality Bytes (author) from Freeman On The Land United States of America. on November 15, 2010:
Thanks for the advice "ex delicto. arising out of wrongs." has been added.
OpinionDuck on November 13, 2010:
I got through law school and only saw a meager portion of thses latin words. Then I realized ducks don't practice law. ~:} I never took Latin in school and it is interesting to see them.
I didn't see "delicto" in the list.
In dealing with negligence, I have always liked the phrase, Res Ispa Loquitur.