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Thursday, October 2, 2014

Useful Latin phrases for Indie authors



Acta est fabula, plaudite!  "The play is over [and was fabulous], applaud!" A common ending phrase of ancient Roman comedies that could readily be used as a finale for your masterpiece.

Ad captandum vulgis: "To appeal to the crowd" — often used of politicians who make false or insincere promises appealing to popular interest, but also applicable to romance and thriller authors.

Ad hoc: "For this" — i.e. improvised, made up on the spot.  That speech you have to make without warning during book signings etc.  Also a remedy for writer's block.

Ad libitum (often shortened to ad lib): "At ease" — means "do as you please", "improvise", "just ramble on." Another remedy for writer's block.

Ad nauseum: "To the point of nausea."  Applies equally to overly graphic and repetitive sex scenes and overly graphic and repetitive bloody violence.

Amor vincit omnia: "Love conquers all." The indispensable ending for the romantic novel.


Cacoethes scribendi: "Bad habit of writing" — i.e. an insatiable urge to write. Originally used by Juvenal, but very useful when giving the reason for turning out all those novels.  To be quoted with a mock-apologetic wave of the hand. 



Caveat lector: "Let the reader beware." Like caveat emptor (buyer beware) it is an excellent cop-out when readers complain, or a caution if you are not sure of your facts. But don't forget caveat venditor (seller beware), because you are responsible for the promises you make in your blurb.

Cui bono: "Good for whom?" or, who benefits?  An excellent way of solving a crime, kept in mind by good mystery writers.

Damnant quod non intellegunt: "They condemn what they do not understand."  To be borne in mind when those two-star reviews arrive.

Deus ex machina: "A god from a machine" — a contrived or artificial solution, usually to a literary plot. Refers to the practice in Greek drama of lowering by machine an actor playing Zeus onto the stage — as though he were descending from Olympus — to resolve an awkward plot. Not recommended.

Editio princeps: First Edition.

Exempli gratia: for example, e.g. for short, always in lower case.

Ibidem (ibid.) "In the same place" — usually in bibliographic citations.

Id est (i.e.): "That is (to say)", abbreviated as "i.e." — sometimes "in this case," depending on the context.  It is not equivalent to "e.g.", in any context.

Imprimatur: "(It) may be printed" — an authorization to publish, granted by some censoring authority (originally a Catholic Bishop).

In flagrante delicto"In flaming crime" — i.e. "caught red-handed." Used by both romance and mystery writers.

Incredibile dictu: "Incredibly to say."  Not recommended in the body of a novel, let alone in non-fiction.

Index librorum prohibitorum: "List of prohibited books."  Where you do not want your novel to land.

Ita vero: "That's true."  Like many nations, the Romans had no word for "yes." Useful if you are not sure whether the native you are writing about had the word for "yes."

Ipsissima verba: "The words themselves, verily" — i.e. "strictly word by word." 

Lapsus calami:  "A slip of the pen." An excellent excuse, as is, Lapsus linguae, "A slip of the tongue" and Lapsus memoriae, "Memory lapse."

Locus classicus"A classic place" — a quote from a classical text used as an example of something.


Magnum opus: "greatest work."  

Nota bene. "Note well."  And note well that the abbreviation is in upper case, and roman, not italics: N.B.

Opera omnia: "All Works", the collected works of some author or another.

Opera posthuma. "Post-humous works."  Oh dear.  

Ophidia in herba: "snake in the grass."

Panem et circenses"Bread and circus plays" — Juvenal, Satires 10, 81, describing all that was needed for the emperors to placate the Roman mob, and today used to describe any public entertainment.

Passim:"Throughout", "here and there", "frequently" — of a word that occurs several times in a cited texts; also, in proof reading, of a change that is to be repeated everywhere needed.

Quo vide (q.v.): "Which see" — used after a term or phrase that should be looked up elsewhere in the current document or book.

Quod erat demonstrandum (Q.E.D.): "That which was to be demonstrated" — often written (abbreviated) at the bottom of a mathematical proof.

Sesquipedalia verba"Words a foot and a half long" — long and complicated words that are used without necessity.

Sic: "Thus", "just so" — states that the preceding quoted material appears exactly that way in the source, usually despite errors of spelling, grammar, usage, or fact.

Sic itur ad astra: "Thus to the stars" — or, ad astra, that's how to achieve fame.

Sic passim"Thus in various places" — used when referencing books; see passim.

Sic transit gloria mundi"Thus passes earthly glory."

Sine anno (s.a.)"Without year" — used in bibliographies to indicate that the date of publication of a document is unknown.

Sit venia verbo"With apologies for the word" — i.e. "pardon my French."

Stanta pede"On standing foot" — immediately.

Status quo (ante)"The state that was (before)" — the status of affairs or situation prior to some upsetting event.

Stet"Let it stand" — marginal mark in proofreading to indicate that something previously deleted or marked for deletion should be retained.

Stricto sensu"In the strict sense."

And the way even the best Indie author/publisher feels every now and then ...

Vox clamantis in deserto "The voice of one shouting in the desert" — thus "unheeded", "in vain."

2 comments:

Joan Curry said...

Takes me back to the fourth form - but more than a couple of these are new to me. Wherever did you find them?

Joan Druett said...

The Wikitionary, believe it or not! it seems to be something new, and definitely quirky.