Use These Latin Phrases to Sound Smarter

Merriam-Webster wants us to use Latin more and more in our daily lives, and we see no reason not to obey. (Okay, MW didn’t say that exactly, but they posted a list of their favorite Latin phrases , so that’s a fair conclusion.)

You may already know some of them. You’ve probably heard some of them, but you can’t remember the meaning. And some of them are completely new, but they should be implemented immediately.

Post hoc, ergo propter hoc

Definition : After that, then because of this. It is “a logical fallacy when it is argued that one thing caused another just because it happened first.” In other words, correlation does not equal causation.

Merriam-Webster says we should thank Aristotle for starting to classify these illogical arguments. I went outside and it started raining. Is my walk on the street to make it rain? It may seem that this is so, but sincerely believing in this would be a logical fallacy – post hoc, ergo propter hoc .

(If you’re still not sure if you need to add this phrase to the rotation, say it out loud with me: Post hoc, ergo propter hoc. That’s good stuff.)

Per angusta ad augusta

Definition : Through difficulties to honors , through trials to victory or through difficulties to great deeds. This is another way of saying, “No pain, no gain.”

It reminds me of a phrase that my husband and I often used during the years when we were raised in foster families: “We can do hard things.” Per angusta ad augusta can be a good mantra or family motto.

I came, I saw, I won

Definition : I came, I saw, I won .

Today we could use this phrase as a joke, perhaps after a particularly epic performance at a dinner buffet. But if it was first written by Julius Caesar, as it is widely credited, it was literally meant. He used these words in a military report after a quick victory around 47 BC.

The truth is in wine

Definition : ” Truth is in wine” or “Truth is in wine.” The idea is that a person who has drunk too much will have their inhibitions lowered and will be more inclined to say what they really think.

The phrase is sometimes expanded to “In vino veritas, in aqua sanitas”. Or: “In wine there is truth, in water – health / common sense.” Use this as an excuse or explanation the next time you – or a loved one – drink too much and start pouring out all of your innermost thoughts.

Let the buyer be vigilant

Definition : Let the buyer beware.

Merriam-Webster says this stems from early Roman law, when shoppers were encouraged to actually check the item before buying to avoid being robbed. We liked it so much that we adopted the word “caveat” in English to mean “a warning that prohibits a person from taking certain actions or actions.”

For some reason, this phrase comes to Amazon’s mind.

Amor vincit omnia

Definition : Love conquers everything.

We attribute this phrase – which you often hear in English – to the Roman poet Virgil, who wrote: “Love conquers all; let’s surrender too to love ”right before the start of the first millennium, according to Merriam Webster . The phrase has since been used by a number of poets and appeared in the Canterbury Tales in the late 1300s.


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