What do i.e., e.g., viz and other Latin terms mean?

There are all these terms and abbreviations we see everyday in various texts. As we see them, we often have just a vague understanding of what they mean, and make a mental note to one day find out what, but then we never do. So, today, I decided to educate myself better, and help you all too 😉

i.e. id est. “That is more precisely.” Literally, “it is.” Commonly used to refine a general statement or provide additional information. Usage: “Jerry’s girlfriend always managed to turn the conversation toward children, i.e., the possibility of having children together.”

e.g. exempli gratia. “For example.” Literally, “free as an example.” Usage: “We have numerous problems to deal with before reforming welfare policies, e.g., the trade deficit, Medicare, and social security.”

viz. videlicit. “More appropriately or accurately; namely.” The abbreviation is often used interchangeably with i.e. Literally, “As it befits or is pleasing to him.” Usage: “He was a minor Duke in the House of Lords, viz. the Duke of Rochester.”

sic. Literally, “yes” or “even thus” in Latin. It indicates a misspelling or error in a quoted source, in order to verify to the reader that the researcher did not create a typographical error, but instead exactly reproduces the way the word or statement appeared in the original material. Usage: There are, according to the writings of seven-year old Andrew, “Manee wayes of riting words” [sic].

cf. confere. A Latin imperative suggesting the reader should compare and contrast one statement or idea with another one. Literally, “compare.” Researchers often follow the abbreviation with a reference to an author or page number, suggesting the reader look for similarities and differences between what a previous citation has said with the subsequent source listed.

t.i.d. ter in die. “Three times a day.” Used by older pharmacies and doctors to indicate that a medication should be taken three times a day. Usage: “Aspirin, t.i.d.; call if headaches continue.”

s.p.s.sine prole supersite. “Without surviving issue.” The phrase is used in inheritance laws to indicate that an individual has no children or legal inheritors. Usage: “Since Mrs. Clayton died s.p.s., her six million dollar estate will revert to the City of Portland.”

P.S. post scriptum. The abbreviation indicates a last-minute addition to a letter or document. Literally, “After what has been written.” Usage: “That’s all for now. Take care. Love, John. P.S. Don’t forget to write me back!”

N.B.: Nota Bene. The Latin imperative means “Take notice of this very carefully,” that is, pay special attention to this part because it is unusually important, tricky, or confusing. Usage: All assignments are due at the beginning of class. N. B.: I lock the door to the classroom once lecture begins.

R.S.V.P. Repondez S’il Vous-Plait. “Please send a response confirming whether or not you will accept the invitation.” The abbreviation is French rather than Latin. Literally, “Respond please.” (S’il vous-plait are four French words that mean ‘please’). Note that it is redundant to write, “Please RSVP,” since the phrase itself implies “please.” Usage: “You are cordially invited to a wine-and-cheese reception at the Bradson’s House. RSVP by Thursday afternoon.”

Vos crostino :)! (See you tomorrow – in Latin, of course)

 

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