6 Foreign Expressions You Should Know

by Daniel Scocco

1De facto

De facto is a Latin expression that means “actual” (if used as an adjective) or “in practice” (if used as an adverb). In legal terms, de facto is commonly used in contrast to de jure, which means “by law.” Something, therefore, can emerge either de facto (by practice) or de jure (by law).

2Vis-à-vis

The literal meaning of this French expression is “face to face” (used as an adverb). It is used more widely as a preposition though, meaning “compared with” or “in relation to.”

3Status quo

This famous Latin expression means “the current or existing state of affairs.” If something changes the status quo, it is changing the way things presently are.

4Cul-de-sac

This expression was originated in England by French-speaking aristocrats. Literally it means “bottom of a sack,” but generally it refers to a dead-end street. Cul-de-sac can also be used metaphorically to express an action that leads to nowhere or an impasse.

5Per se

Per se is a Latin expression that means “by itself” or “intrinsically.”

6Ad hoc

Ad hoc, borrowed from Latin, can be used both as an adjective, where it means “formed or created with a specific purpose,” and as an adverb, where it means “for the specific purpose or situation.”

From DailyWritingTips

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7 comments
Hieronimus
Hieronimus

This post could be really helpful if included some sentences as examples. It's a pity :(

RowanRoth
RowanRoth

How are these foreign expressions? They have been used in English for a long time...?

RafaelCerquetani
RafaelCerquetani

I don't know about the other countries in latin america, but  "de facto" actually means "indeed" in portuguese. And here in Brazil, we don't use the "c" (it's written "de fato") while in Portugal is "de facto".

AtulAdapala
AtulAdapala

How about the following ones,


persona non grata - unwelcome person

Caveat emptor - let the buyer beware

bona fide - genuine

ergo - therefore

pro rata - in proportion

verbatim - exact words

terra firma - dry land

et cetera - so on..


any im sure many more..



Karl Gruber
Karl Gruber

1.  In situ.  Means "in place." (E.g., "Are you going to paint that window before you install it or do it in situ?") 


2. In extremis.  Means "all but dead."  (E.g., "Word is Betty Lou is in extremis.")


3.  Non compos mentis.  Means "Not of sound mind."  (E.g., "His behavior is so erratic, he may be non compos mentis.")

Neihil
Neihil

@Karl Gruber in extremis is used to mean "at the last minute" - at least it is in Italian, rather than when talking about someone "slipping away" even though the one you outlined is the original meaning :)

dougkester
dougkester

How about "quid pro quo?" I use that in conversation A LOT!


This list will go in my upper-intermediate lesson plans.

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