Common Latin Abbreviations Used in English

Latin Abbreviations

A language, like a person, can be open-minded and flexible, conservative and closed, and even dead, like Latin. For centuries, there has been no one who can say Latin is his or her mother tongue. However, many speak it, including each of us.

Latin accompanies us everywhere. We bear Latin names: Barbara means a foreign woman, Anthony stands for the priceless one, Victor is a winner, and Chester indicates a fortress. All our months have Latin names. Latin is the language of ancient philosophers and poets.

It was also an international language for European scientists, especially for linguists, physicists, and biologists. This is why today you can easily come across some Latin words and abbreviations in documents, instructions, scientific articles, and even in fiction.

Everyone will understand you if you say a.m. and p.m. Just don’t add that this means “ante meridian” and “post meridian.” P.S. which is “post scriptum” (after what has been said) and CV which is “curriculum vitae” (story of one’s life) are as widespread as the most common English words nowadays. But what about the rest of the letters and dots that are put together which seems to have no logic at all? Fortunately, the list of Latin abbreviations commonly used in ordinary life is not that long.

45 common Latin abbreviations and their meanings

You must have read these top 3 abbreviations thousands of times :

  1. i.e. = id est = that is
  2. e.g. = exempli = for example
  3. etc. = etcetera = and so on

The rest might be a surprise for you:

  1. a. = annus, anno = year
  2. a. = antem = before
  3. abamic. = ab amico = from a friend (used in correspondence)
  4. abinit. = ab inito = at first
  5. absque. = absque = without
  6. a.c. = anni currentis = this year
  7. acc. = acceptum = received
  8. acq., acqu. = acquisitum, acquisitio = purchased
  9. a d. = a dato = from the date of (signature)
  10. adnot. = adnotavit = a mark, marked
  11. ad fin. = ad finem = to the end
  12. adint = ad interim = previously
  13. ad. lib. = ad libitum = optional
  14. a. f. = anni futuri = next year
  15. a m.c. = a mundo condito = on creation (of the world)
  16. a.p. = anno passato = last year
  17. b.f. = bona fide = honestly, with no fraudulent intention
  18. c., ca. = circa = approximetely
  19. cf., cfr. = conferatur = compare
  20. c.l. = citato loco = in the above mentioned location
  21. cor. cor. impr. = correctis, corrigendis, imprimatur = correct, rectify, print
  22. etal. = et alii = and the others
  23. et pass. = et passim = and the following, and in the following
  24. et seq. = et sequence = and the next (used as a reference to the next page, chapter, etc.)
  25. fec. = fecit = made by (used by artists)
  26. h.e. = hoc est = that is to say, this means
  27. ib., ibid. = ibidem = the same, in the same place (to make a reference to the source which was used previously)
  28. i.a. = inter alia = among the others
  29. i.q. = idem quod = the same way as
  30. loc. cit. = loco citato = in the place cited
  31. L.S. = locus sigilli = place of print
  32. N.B. = Nota Bene = pay attention
  33. op.cit. = opus citatum = a reference to a source that was used before the last one (used when ibid. Can’t be used)
  34. p.a., per an. = per annum = yearly, every year
  35. pro tem. = pro tempore = for some time, temporary
  36. Q.E.D. = quod erat demonstrandum = what was to be shown
  37. qs = quantum sufficit = any amount that is necessary
  38. q.v. = quod vide = look there
  39. sl. = sine loco = with no place indication
  40. v., vs. = versus = against
  41. viz. = videlicet = namely (used to give more details on a topic)
  42. v.v. = vice versa = with the order reversed

Along with theseabbreviations, there are some Latin words and phrases commonly used in business and science, e.g.:

  • Ad hoc refers to something that is specifically designed or arranged for a given occasion. It is used in a business context and determines meetings and conferences.
  • Verbatim means “literally” and is commonly used in reports and quotations.
  • Modus operandi is used to describe a person’s method of work.
  • Sic is a Latin word that is translated as “so” or “thus.”
  • De jure stands for “according to the law.”
  • De facto is “true according to facts.”
  • Ergo is “therefore.” Use it whenever you want to seem smart.
  • Vis major indicates an act of God that is under a person’s or company’s influence.

Latin abbreviations used in specific fields

Every classic academic discipline uses a list of Latin abbreviations of its own: law, medicine, botanic, and biology manuals are lined with Latinisms.

Latin abbreviations in history

  • a. u. (c.) = anno urbis (conditae) = after Rome’s foundation
  • SPQR = Senatus Populus que Romanus = Senate and the citizens of Rome (inscription on the standards of the Roman legions)

Latin abbreviations in religious studies

  • a. Chr. = ante Christum = B.C. (before Christ)
  • A.D. = anno Domini = in the summer of God, in the year when Christ was born
  • AMDG = ad majorem Dei gloriam = for the greater glory of God
  • a. p. C. = anno post Christum = the year after Christ’s birth

Latin abbreviations in medicine (to name a few)

  • M.D.S. = Misce. Da. Signa. = Mix. Give. Mark.
  • q. s. = quantum satis = when it is necessary, as much as necessary
  • Mm. = musculi = muscles
  • t.i.d. = ter in die = three times per day

Latin abbreviations in law (just a couple)

  • corp. del. = corpus delicti = physical evidence, main evidence
  • e. o. = ex officio = on duty
  • F. fa., fi. fa. = fieri facias = is translated as “face of the card that is in flame” and stands for writ of execution

These words, letters, and dots are a part of the professional vocabulary of medical doctors, lawyers, chemists, and many others. And the list we present to you is not even close to being full.

However, there is one thing we can recommend to you concerning the use of abbreviations, including Latin ones. Explain them in brackets when you use them for the first time to make sure your reader will understand you. After all, this is what we seek when we use dfferent methods and ways of communication—to be understood.