List of Common Foreign Words and Phrases in English With Their Usage


English is a rich language. It has adopted many words and phrases of different other languages. The Greek, Latin and French words are interwoven in English vocabulary in such a natural manner that they beautify the written as well as the verbal expressions. Some such common foreign words and phrases with their usage are listed below. Read them carefully because a precise knowledge of them will go a long way to help the students in learning effective art of expression :–

  1. Ab initio ( from the very begining )

* I have started studying the growth and development of human species ab initio.
2. Ad hoc ( arranged for a special purpose, temporary )
* After the suspension of the managing committee of the college, an ad hoc managing committee has been set up.
3. Ad interim ( in the meantime )
* I will see you soon. You must keep the affairs ready ad interim.
4. Ad libitum ( as much as you please )
* Please help the weak ad libitum.
5. Ad nauseum ( to a disgusting point )
*We have prepared for the student a book containing several things ad nauseum.
6. Alpha and Omega (beginning and end )
*We must try to know the alpha and omega of the thing we preach.
7. Alma Mater ( mother institution )
* Whenever I pass by my alma mater, my heart is filled with pleasure to have a glance at it.
8. Anno domini ( in the year of our Lord; A. D. )
* Several events occured anno domini in England.
9. Alter ego ( bosom friend )
* Mr. Sahni is my alter ego.
.10. Alumni ( ex-students of an institution )
* The alumni of St. Mary’s celebrated the New Year Eve.
11. Ante meridiem ( a.m., before mid-day )
* Ante meridiem is a Latin word meaning before mid-day.
12. A la mode (according to the fashion )
* Her dress was certainly a la mode.
13. Amour propre ( self-love )
* Freud’s psychological theories are based on amour propre.
14. A propos ( well suited )
* His thinking is very much a propose.
15. Bizarre ( eccentric, fantastic )
* The undersea world is filled with bizarre and colourful creatures.
16. Bona fide ( regular, genuine, sincere )
* Amartya Sen was awarded the Bharat Ratna for being the bona fide scholar of Economics.
17. Cafe ( coffee-house, retsaurant )
* I shall go to cafe tomorrow.
18. Carte blanche ( full authority or freedom )
* The Vice-Principal is given carte blancheto work independently.
19. Chauffeur ( motor-car driver )
* Moti Prasad is a good chauffeur.
20. Cortege ( train of attendants, procession )
* The funeral cortege of Mr. J. P. Narayan was taken out with great pomp and show.
21. De jure ( accrding to law )
* Lord Rama was the de jure king of Ayodhya
22. De facto ( real )
* Mr. Rajiv Gandhi was the de facto leader of Congress ( I ).
23. Dei Gratia ( by the grace of God )
* Mohan has been blessed with a son dei gratia.
24. Dramatis personae ( characters in a drama )
* The dramatis personae is an essential part of a drama.
25. Eldorado ( a country full of old and precious stones )
* Eldorado ( Spanish ) means ” the golden one. ”
26. Emeritus ( retired and holding honorary title )
* Prof. Raj is working as Professor emeritus in English.
27. En masse ( in a mass, aitogether )
* The people of the locality reached the office of D. M. en masse.
28. En route ( on the way )
* I shall meet my brother at Delhi en route from Lucknow to Bombay.
29. Ex-officio ( because of one’s office or position )
* The Pricipal is the ex-officio member of the managing committee.
30. Ex-parte ( one-sided )
* Magistrate has given an ex-parte decision.
31. Expirit de corps ( spirit of loyalty and devotion which unites the members of a group or sociey )
* The Indians living together in a forein country possess an ex pirit de corps.
32. Genre ( style )
* Short-story is a separate genre of fiction.
33. Ibid ( in the same book, chapter, passage )
* The term Ibid is used to provide a reference for a source that was mentioned previously.
34. Id est ( that is, i.e. )
* He was an idiot, id est a bozo.
35. Il penseroso ( a pensive meloncholy,or thoughtful man )
* The death of his faher made him il penseroso.
36. In memorium ( in memory of )
* Shah Jahan built the Taj Mahal in memorium his beloved wife.
37. Ipso facto ( by the very fact, virtually )
* Being the eldest son of his father, he is the ipso facto heir of the entire property of his father.
38. In toto ( completely, entirely )
* He will inherit his father’s property in toto.
39. Laissez-faire ( the state of being free from the Government’s control )
* The Indian Government is going to introduce a laissez faire economic policy.
40. Lingua franca ( commom language of all )
* Hindi is the lingua franca of India.
41. Literateur ( literary man )
* Pt. Nehru was a great literateur.
42. Mademoisselle ( unmarried woman )
* Sara is a beautiful mademoisselle of sixteen.
43. Mala fide ( with a bad intension )
* Though mothers punish their children yet there is nothing mala fide in it.
44. Magnum opus ( great literary undertaking )
* Hamlet is the magnum opus of Shakespeare.
45. Modus operandi ( the mode of working )
* The modus operandi of a policeman is different from that of a lay man.
46. Monsieur ( French equivalent of Mr. )
* He thanked Monsieur Rajesh for his kindness.
47. Nota bene ( N. B. , Take notice, note well )
* N. B. -What you write should be neat and tidy.
48. Par excellence ( superb, above all others )
* Kalidas, the Sanskrit poet, was a poet par excellence.
49. Parole ( word of honour )
* The decoit has been left on parole.
50. Per annum (per year )
* He gets Rs. 2,00,000/- per annum.
51. Per capita ( per individual )
* The per capita inome of our country is not up to the mark.
52. Prime facie (based on the first impression )
* He produed the prime facie evidence against the accused.
53. Pro forma ( done for the sake of form )
* The pro form of the the application is given in the booklet.
54. Post meridiem ( p. m. , after mid-day )
* Post meridiem is a Latin word meaning after mid-day.
55. Sans ( wihout )
* The old age is an age sans teeth, eye-sight and hearing power.
56. Sine die ( without date, indefinitely )
* The Principal has closed the college sine die.
57. Sine quannon ( neccessary condition )
* Simpliity is the status quannon of the Indian life.
58. Status quo ( same position )
* Hari is very poor but he maintains his status quo in his society.
59. Summum bonum ( the chief good )
* A quiet and happy life is the summum bonum of man.
60 Tete-e-tete ( informal talk )
* Mohini had a tete-e-tete with Charu.
61. Tempo ( characteristic style of movement )
* One should watch the tempo of the mob and only then take action.
62. Tour de force ( a feat of strength or skill )
* The victory of the Indian forces in Kargil was a tour de force of the Indian armed forces.
63. Ultra vires (beyond the power or authority granted by law )
* The Principal’s orders to dismiss a peon are considerd ultra vires by the court.
64. Verbatim ( word for word )
* He has learnedalmost all poems of Wordsworth verbstim.
65. Versus ( against )
* Write a note on peace versus war.
66. Via media ( middle course )
* Hari is trying to find out a via media to bring Ramesh and Sohan together.
67. Vice versa ( in opposed way )
* Change the sentence of active voice into passive voice and vice versa.
68. Viva voce ( oral examination )
* Every University holds viva voce tests in science.
69. Vox populi vox del ( voice of the people is the voice of God )
* In democracy vox populi vox del.
70. ad absurdum (to the point of absurdity)
* “He tediously repeated his argument ad absurdum.”
71. ad infinitum (to infinity)
* “The lecture seemed to drone on ad infinitum.”
73. aficionado ( an ardent devotee ).
* I was surprised at what a baseball aficionado she had become.
74. annus mirabilis ( wonderful year )
* Last year was the annus mirabilis for my company.
75. au courant ( up-to-date )
* The shoes, the hair, the clothes—every last detail of her dress, in fact—was utterly au courant.
76. beau geste ( a fine or noble gesture, often futile )
* My fellow writers supported me by writing letters of protest to the publisher, but their beau geste could not prevent the inevitable.
77. beau monde ( high society )
* Such elegant decor would impress even the beau monde.
78. bête noire ( something or someone particularly disliked )
* Talk of the good old college days way back when had become his bête noire, and he began to avoid his school friends.
79. bon mot ( a witty remark or comment
* One bon mot after another flew out of his mouth, charming the audience.
80. bon vivant ( a person who lives luxuriously and enjoys good food and drink )
* It’s true he’s quite the bon vivant, but when he gets down to business he conducts himself like a Spartan
81. casus belli ( an act justifying war).
* “The general felt that the banana republic’s insolent remarks about our national honor were enough of a casus belli to launch an attack.”
82. caveat emptor ( let the buyer beware )
* Before you leap at that real estate deal, caveat emptor!
83. comme ci comme ça ( so-so )
* The plans for the party strike me as comme ci comme ça.
84. comme il faut ( as it should be; fitting )
* His end was truly comme il faut.
85. coup de grâce ( finishing blow )
* After an already wildly successful day, the coup de grâce came when she won best all-around athlete.
86. de rigueur ( strictly required, as by etiquette, usage, or fashion )
* Loudly proclaiming one’s support for radical causes had become de rigueur among her crowd.
87. enfant terrible ( an incorrigible child; an outrageously outspoken or bold person )
* He played the role of enfant terrible, jolting us with his blunt assessment.
88. entre nous ( between ourselves; confidentially )
* Entre nous, their marriage is on the rocks.
89. fait accompli ( an accomplished fact, presumably irreversible )
* There’s no use protesting—it’s a fait accompli.
90. faux pas ( a social blunder )
* Suddenly, she realized she had unwittingly committed yet another faux pas.
91. Feinschmecker ( gourmet )
* No, I don’t think McDonald’s will do; he’s much too much of a Feinschmecker.
92. flagrante delicto ( in the act )
* The detective realized that without hard evidence he had no case; he would have to catch the culprit flagrante delicto.
93. hoi polloi ( the common people )
* Marie Antoinette recommended cake to the hoi polloi.
94. in loco parentis ( in the place of a parent )
* The court appointed a guardian for the children, to serve in loco parentis.
95. in medias res ( in the middle of a sequence of occurences )
* The film begins in medias res, with a panting, terrified man running through the night.
96. in situ ( situated in the original or natural position )
* I prefer seeing statues in situ rather than in the confines of a museum.
97. in vino veritas ( in wine there is truth )
* By the end of the party, several of the guests had made a good deal of their private lives public, prompting the host to murmur to his wife, ‘in vino veritas.
98. mano a mano ( directly or face-to-face in a confrontation or conflict )
* Stay out of it, he admonished his friends, I want to handle this guy mano a mano.
99. nom de guerre ( pseudonym )
* He went by his nom de guerre when frequenting trendy nightclubs.
100. nom de plume ( pen name )
* Deciding it was time to sit down and begin a novel, the would-be writer spent the first several hours deciding upon a suitable nom de plume.
101. persona non grata ( unacceptable or unwelcome person )
* Once I was cut out of the will, I became persona non grata among my relatives.
102. prima facie ( at first sight, clear and evident )
* Although her husband implored, ‘I can explain!’ the sight of another woman wrapped in his arms was prima facie evidence that he was a deceitful lout.
103. pro bono ( done or donated without charge; free )
* The lawyer’s pro bono work gave him a sense of value that his work on behalf of the corporation could not.
104. quid pro quo ( something for something; an equal exchange )
* “She vowed that when she had the means, she would return his favors quid pro quo.”
105. sans souci ( carefree )
* After serveral glasses of champagne, their mood turned distinctly sans souci.
106. savoir-faire ( the ability to say and do the correct thing )
* “She presided over the gathering with impressive savoir-faire.”
107. sotto voce ( in a quiet voice )
* While the others were distracted, he filled me in sotto voce on all the delicously sordid details of the scandal.
108. sui generis ( unique )
* Adjusting her pirate’s hat and fringed hula skirt, Zelda sashayed into the party, knowing her fashion statement was sui generis.
109. terra incognita ( unknown territory )
* “When the conversation suddenly switched from contemporary fiction to medieval Albanian playwrights, he felt himself entering terra incognita.”
110. tout le monde ( everybody; everyone of importance )
* Don’t miss the event; it’s bound to be attended by tout le monde.
111. veni, vidi, vici ( I came, I saw, I conquered )
* After the takeover the business mogul gloated, ‘veni, vidi, vici.
112. verboten ( forbidden, as by law; prohibited )
* That topic, I am afraid, is verboten in this household.
113. Weltanschauung ( a world view or philosophy of life )
* His Weltanschauung gradually metamorphized from a grim and pessimistic one to a sunny, but no less complex, view.
114. Zeitgeist ( the thought or sensibility characteristic of a particular period of time )
* She blamed it on the Zeitgeist, which encouraged hedonistic excess.

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