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Latin Words in English

Words in Newspapers That English Has Adopted


Interested in increasing your vocabulary? Here are some English words from Latin directly or from Latin via French or Spanish. These words are thought to have come from newspaper articles from around 1923. One of the words on the list, mattoid, does not appear to be used any longer, so it is not included.
  1. acumen - ability to make good judgments
  2. agenda - list of things to be done
  3. altruism - selfless concern for others
  4. ambiguous - having a double meaning
  5. aplomb (Fr.) - self-confidence
  6. atrocity - cruel act
  7. avarice - greed
  8. bibulous - excessively fond of drinking alcohol
  9. celibate - abstaining from sex or marriage
  10. chivalrous (Fr.) - gallant
  11. condign - worthy, appropriate
  12. conglomerate - parts put together to form a unit while remaining separate identities
  13. crepuscular - pertaining to twilight
  14. cull - select from a variety of sources
  15. debilitate - weaken
  16. dirigible - capable of being guided
  17. facsimile - exact copy
  18. ferrous - made of iron
  19. flux - in the process of flowing
  20. futile - in vain
  21. garrulity - loquaciousness
  22. impecunious - poor
  23. incalculable - too great to be counted
  24. incommunicado (Sp.) - not in communication with others
  25. indefatigability - tireless
  26. insipid - lacking flavor
  27. introspection - looking within at one's mental or emotional state
  28. languid - slow, relaxed
  29. lucubration - meditation
  30. malfeasance (Fr.) - wrongdoing
  31. modicum - small amount
  32. moribund - near death
  33. mundane - wordly as opposed to spiritual
  34. naive - exhibiting lack of experience
  35. obeisance - respect
  36. obvious - clear (from the Latin for "in the way")
  37. parvenu - celebrity from obscure origins
  38. perpetuate - preserve
  39. perturb - make anxious
  40. plausible - probable
  41. precarious - uncertain
  42. puerile - childishly silly
  43. pulchritude - beauty
  44. pusillanimity - showing a lack of courage
  45. rapport - close relationship
  46. rapprochement (Fr.) - establishment of a harmonious relationship
  47. recalcitrant - obstinate
  48. renegade - a rebellious person
  49. reprisal - retaliation
  50. sacrosanct - very important or holy and not to be messed with
  51. simulacrum - image
  52. stipend - fixed allowance
  53. stultify - make appear foolish, cause to loose enthusiasm
  54. succumb - fail to resist
  55. taunt (Fr.) - provoke
  56. tentative - provisional
  57. turpitude - depravity
  58. ubiquity - found everywhere
Source: "Learn a Word Every Day" by Lillian B. Lawler. The Classical Journal, Vol. 18, No. 5. (Feb., 1923), pp. 299-301.

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Also see these articles on words and word derivations:
  • On Translating Latin Into English
    Whether you want to translate a short English phrase into Latin or a Latin phrase into English, you can not just plug the words into a dictionary and expect an accurate result. You can't with most modern languages, but the lack of a one-to-one correspondence is even greater for Latin and English.
  • Latin Religious Words in English
    If you want to say that the prospects are bleak, you could say "it doesn't augur well." Augur is used as a verb in this English sentence, with no particular religious connotation. In ancient Rome, an augur was a religious figure who observed natural phenomena, like the presence and location to left or right of birds, to determine whether the prospects were good or bad for a proposed venture. Find out about more such words.

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