Amitkumar Bavishi

Amitkumar BavishiMany of our readers are students, pursing Professional courses, like CA, CS, CMA, etc., aiming to be a great professional in their life. While going through the studies most of us find hard to understand the meaning of some terms, words and/ or expressions, due to their origin in different languages. This piece of writing is my deliberate attempt to make you aware of such terms, words, and/or expressions, with an aim to help you, during your studies.

English has borrowed generously from other languages, mostly from Latin, Greek, French and German. Many of the borrowed terms, words and/or expressions have been anglicized and today are an integral in English vocabulary in their original or modified form e.g., restaurant, rapport, viva voce, etc…

Jargon means language that is special to science, technology, art, or profession. There is for instance legal jargon, military jargon and political jargon.

These terms, words and/or expressions are liberally used in English and yet continue to return their foreign flavors. The expressions given below are of technical nature pertaining to law, philosophy, politics and ‘officialdom’.

ab initio Latin from the beginning
ab origin Latin from the origin
ad libitum Latin speak or perform in public without advance preparation
ad valorem Latin according to the value
ad hoc Latin a body elected or appointed for a particular work
ad infinitum Latin to infinity, endlessly, forever
a la carte French according to the card/list
a la mode French according to the fashion
amende honorable French a public apology
Apropos Latin with reference to
au fait French expert, having detailed knowledge
au revoir French until we meet again
avant-propos French preliminary matter, preface
avant-garde French new, unusual or experimental
bête noire French a special aversion
bona fide Latin good faith
Bizarre French strange unknown
bon voyage French have a good journey
casus belli Latin that which causes or justifies war
chef d’ oeuvre French masterpiece
Circa Latin approximately
Confere French colleague
Contretemps French a minor dispute or disagreement
corrigenda Latin a thing to be corrected (in a book)
coup d’etat French violent change in government
coup de grace French a finishing stroke
cul-de-sac French a blind valley
de facto Latin actual or in fact
de jure Latin from the law, by right
de novo Latin anew, again
dernier resort French last resort
Elite Latin the best part, the pick
entrepreneur French a person who sets up business taking greater financial risk
en masse French all together
en rapport French in harmony
Errata Latin list of errors
esprit de corps French the animating spirit of a particular group like a regiment
et cetera Latin and the rest
Eureka Greek i have found it
exempli gratia Latin for example
ex post facto Latin with retrospective action or force
faux pas French a social blunder
hoi polloi Greek the common people
id est Latin that is more precisely
Impasse French a deadlock
in extensor Latin in full
in memorium Latin in memory of
in toto Latin entirely /as a whole
laissez-faire French a policy of non-interference
mala fide Latin in bad faith
modus operandi Latin a way of doing something
mutatis mutandis Latin with the necessary changes
nota bene Latin note well
pari passu Latin side by side, equally or equivalently
per se Latin by itself
prima facie Latin at first view of consideration
probono public Latin for the good of the public
pro forma Latin denoting a standard document or form
pro rata Latin according to value or proportion
quid pro quo Latin a favor or advantage given in return for something
raison d’ etre French the most important reason for a thing’s existence
Resume French a summary or curriculum vitae
sanctum sanctorum Latin holy of holies
Seriatim Latin point by point
sine die Latin without a day being appointed
status quo Latin the existing condition
Stet Latin let it stand, do not deter
sub rosa Latin confidentially/done in secret
sui generis Latin in a class by itself
terra incognita Latin an unknown territory
ultra vires Latin beyond one’s authority
Verbatim Latin word for word
vice versa Latin conversely
Videlicet Latin namely, more formal term for ‘viz.’
vis-à-vis French in relation to, as compared with, as opposed to
viva voce Latin an oral examination
Zeitgeist Greek the defining spirit of a particular period or age

There is an aged old well-known saying “PEN IS MIGHTIER THAN THE SWORD”. Hence, one must learn the exact meaning of the words and more importantly their right usage to convey the information & expressing the ideas in the most proficient & valuable way.

I hope this piece of was helpful for you, please share your feedback.

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  1. S. Balasubramanian says:

    Thanks for the post, MR. Amitkumar Bavishi. There are the alien words for me as far as I am concerned, which I am longing to understand the meaning and the usage. The opportunity has come to me through this post. Once again thank you so much and the TAxguru.



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