Know Thy Classics: Greek and Latin Phrases

Most often, Greek and Latin phrases occur in specific contexts, such as law and science. Here’s a list of some useful phrases:

  • Hoi polloi: the common people (from Greek “the many,” often used in disparagement)
  • Flagrante delicto: in the act (from Latin “while the crime is blazing”)
  • Memento mori: a reminder of one’s mortality (from Latin “be mindful of dying”)
  • Nolens volens: willingly or not (from Latin “unwillingly willingly”)
  • Per se: of, in, or by itself; intrinsically (from Latin “through itself”)
  • Quid pro quo: something for something (from Latin “what for what”)
  • Sui generis: unique (from Latin “of its own kind”)

This list cannot go on ad infinitum!