FOREIGN WORDS, PHRASES AND CLASSICAL REFERENCES

  1. A cappella: without musical accompaniment
  2. A fortiori: argument from a stronger reason
  3. A la (à la): in the manner of
  4. A la carte: with a separate price for each item
  5. A la mode: fashionable
  6. A posteriori: derived by reasoning from observed facts, inductive
  7. A priori: presupposed by experience, deductive
  8. Ab initio: from the beginning
  9. Accoutrement: a piece of clothing or equipment that is used in a particular place or for a particular activity
  10. Achilles heel: weakness
  11. Ad hoc: formed or used for a special purpose
  12. Ad hominem (usage): appalling to feelings rather than intellect
  13. Ad infinitum: to infinity
  14. Ad lib(itum): in accordance with one’s wishes
  15. Ad nauseam: to a sickening degree
  16. Adonis: handsome young man
  17. Aegis: power to protect, control or support something/someone
  18. Affidavit: written report which is signed by a person who promises that the info is true
  19. Aficionado: an ardent devotee: a person employed to encourage people to break the law so they can be arrested
  20. Agent provocateur:
  21. Agitprop: propaganda
  22. Aide memoire: an aid to the memory, especially a mnemonic device
  23. Alfresco: open air; outdoors
  24. Alibi: an excuse for not being somewhere or doing something
  25. Alpha and omega: the beginning and the ending
  26. Ambiance:   mood or feeling of a place
  27. Amok:  in a wild and uncontrollable manner
  28. Amour proper: self-esteem
  29. Anathema: someone/something that is strongly disliked
  30. Ancien regime: a system or mode no longer prevailing
  31. Annus horribilis: a disastrous or unfortunate year
  32. Annus mirabilis: a remarkable or notable year
  33. Ante: amount of money required to start play in a poker game
  34. Ante bellum: existing before a war
  35. Aphrodisiac: something that causes sexual desire
  36. Apropos: seasonably
  37. Attaché: a technical expert on a country’s diplomatic staff at a foreign capital
  38. Au contraire: on the contrary
  39. Au courant: in the course of
  40. Au fait: to be familiar about something
  41. Au naturel: in a natural state
  42. Avant-garde: an artist or group associated with the use of new techniques in their field
  43. Bar mitzvah and bat mitzvah: a ceremony celebrating a Jewish boy’s and girl’s (respectively) 13th birthday when taking the religious duties and responsibilities
  44. Belle vs. beau: very attractive woman; a woman/s male lover/friend
  45. Berserk: one whose actions are recklessly defiant
  46. Bête noire: a person or thing strongly detested or avoided
  47. Blitz: sudden attack/effort to end something
  48. Blitzkrieg: a sudden and overwhelming military attack
  49. Bona fide, bona fides: real or genuine; sincerity
  50. Bourgeois, bourgeoisie: a belonging to the middle class of society
  51. Caesar’s wife: A person who is required to be above suspicion
  52. Canard: a groundless rumor
  53. Capiche, capeesh, capische, etc: understand
  54. Carte blanche: permission to do something in any way you choose to
  55. Casus belli: an event that justifies a war or conflict
  56. Cause célèbre: a widely known controversial case or issue
  57. Caveat: an explanation to prevent misinterpretation
  58. C’est la vie: that’s life; such is life
  59. Ceteris paribus: if all other factors remain unaltered
  60. Comme ci, comme ça: like this, like that.
  61. Confidant vs. confidante: a trusted friend you can talk to about personal and private things : a woman who is a trusted friend
  62. Cordon sanitaire: a protective barrier (as of buffer states) against a potentially aggressive nation or a dangerous influence (as an ideology)
  63. Corpus delicti: the substantial and fundamental fact necessary to prove the commission of a crime
  64. Coup d’état: a sudden attempt by a small group of people to take over the government usually through violence
  65. Coup de foudre: a sudden and amazing action or event
  66. Coup de grace: an action or event that finally ends or destroys something that has been getting weaker or worse
  67. Crème de la crème: the very best
  68. Cri de Coeur: a passionate outcry (as of appeal or protest)
  69. Crise de conscience: crisis of conscience : agonizing period of moral uncertainty
  70. Cui bono: a principle that probable responsibility for an act or event lies with one having something to gain
  71. Cul de sac: a street that is designed to connect to another street only at one end
  72. Cum: used in hyphenated phrases to link nouns that describe a person or thing with two jobs, uses, etc.
  73. Danse macabre: dance of deatha
  74. De facto: in reality : actually
  75. De jure: based on or according to the law
  76. De mortuis nil nisi bonum: of the dead (say) nothing but good
  77. De rigueur: necessary if you want to be fashionable, popular, socially acceptable, etc.
  78. Debacle: a great disaster or complete failure
  79. Déjà vu: the feeling that you have already experienced something that is actually happening for the first time
  80. Demeanor-  a person’s appearance and behavior : the way someone seems to be to other people
  81. Deo volente- God being willing
  82. Delphic- of or relating to ancient Delphi or its oracle
  83. Dictum- a statement or well-known remark that expresses an important idea or rule
  84. Diktat– an order that must be followed
  85. Divorcée, divorcé, divorcee– a divorced person; especially : a woman who is divorced // the ending of a marriage by a legal process
  86. Dolce vita- a life of indolence and self-indulgence
  87. Doppelgänger– someone who looks like someone else
  88. Double entendre– a word or expression that can be understood in two different ways with one way usually referring to sex
  89. Dragon’s teeth- wedge-shaped concrete antitank barriers laid in multiple rows
  90. Dreidel-  a 4-sided toy marked with Hebrew letters and spun like a top in a game of chance
  91. Drivel- to talk in a very foolish or silly way
  92. Du jour– happening or popular at a particular time
  93. g. vs. i.e.-  for example : that is
  94. En masse- as a single group : all together
  95. En route– on or along the way
  96. En vogue, in vogue– something fashionable
  97. Entente cordiale- a friendly agreement or working relationship
  98. Ergo- therefore, hence
  99. Erratum- error; especially; corrigendum
  100. Ersatz– copied from something else and usually not as good as the original
  101. Esprit de corps– feelings of loyalty, enthusiasm, and devotion to a group among people who are members of the group
  102. Et al.-  and others —used to shorten a list of names
  103. Et cetera (etc.)– and others especially of the same kind :  and so forth
  104. Ex officio- because of your job, office, or position
  105. Ex post facto– after the fact
  106. Fabian tactics- To “win like Fabius” or to win by “Fabian tactics” is to wear out an opponent by delay and evasion rather than confrontation, in the style of the ancient Roman general Fabius.
  107. Fait accompli– something that has been done and cannot be changed
  108. Fatwah- a legal pronouncement in Islam
  109. Faux pas– an embarrassing social mistake
  110. Femme fatale- a very attractive woman who causes trouble or unhappiness for the men who become involved with her
  111. Fiancé vs. fiancée– a man engaged to be married : a woman engaged to be married
  112. Floreat- may (he, she, or it) flourish —usually followed by a name
  113. Force majeure– superior or irresistible force
  114. Forte– one’s strong point
  115. Futz vs putz– simpleton : fool, jerk
  116. Gaudeamus- let us then be merry
  117. Gesundheit– used to wish good health to someone who has sneezed
  118. Jist– the substance or essence of a speech or text.
  119. Gordian knot- complicated or difficult problem
  120. Gung-ho– enthusiast
  121. Habeas corpus– order to bring a person to jail
  122. Halcyon days- calm and peaceful days
  123. Hara-kiri– commit suicide
  124. Hippocratic oath- oath taken by physicians where he swears to uphold ethical standards
  125. Hoi polloi- common masses
  126. Honoris causa- for the sake of honor
  127. Ibid vs idem– in the same place vs the same
  128. Imbroglio– extremely confused
  129. Impasse- a situation offering no escape, as a difficulty without solution, a deadlock
  130. Imprimatur- person’s acceptance
  131. In absentia- without being present
  132. In extremis- at the point of death
  133. In memoriam- in memory of
  134. In toto- totally
  135. In vino veritas- in wine there is truth
  136. Incognito- identity is concealed
  137. Inter alia- among other things
  138. Interim- interval of time
  139. Iota- a very small of amount
  140. Ipso facto– by the fact itself
  141. Je ne sais quoi– play of spirit”: a witty, often light-hearted, comment or composition
  142. Kamikaze- extremely reckless person
  143. Kaput– destroyed or incapacitated
  144. Kowtow– to show servile deference
  145. Laissez-faire– a non-interventionist policy
  146. Lingua franca- a language that is used among people who speak various different languages
  147. Magnum opus– the most important work of an artist, writer, etc.
  148. Mandamus- to serve or compel with such wit
  149. Mea culpa– an acknowledgement that something is one’s fault (literally ‘by my fault’)
  150. Memento mori– something kept as a reminder that death is inevitable (literally ‘remember (that you have) to die’)
  151. Mens sana in corpora sano- a way of doing something (literally ‘way of operating’)
  152. Mensch– person of integrity and honor
  153. Midas touch- the ability to make large profit with ease
  154. Milieu– social environment; setting
  155. Modus operandi (m.o, MO)– usual way of doing something
  156. Modus Vivendi- arrangement that helps people
  157. Monibus- a bus
  158. Moratorium– time when a particular activity is not allowed
  159. Muumuu– Hawaiian dress
  160. Nebbish– timid or meek person
  161. Noblese oblige- privilege entails responsibility
  162. Noel or nowel– a Christmas carol
  163. Nom de plume- pseudonym
  164. Non sequitur– a conclusion or statement that does not logically follow from the previous statement (literally ‘it does not follow’)
  165. Nota bene- used to call the attention to something important
  166. Nouveau riche- people who have recently become rich and who display their wealth ostentatiously
  167. Nunchucks– weapon that consists of two hardwood sticks joined in chain
  168. Omerta- conspiracy of silence
  169. Pandora’s box- a source of troubles and problems
  170. Papabile- Roman Catholic man likely to be the pope
  171. Par excellence– better or more than all others of the same kind
  172. Per diem– for each day
  173. Per se– by or in itself or themselves
  174. Persona non grata- a person who is not welcome somewhere
  175. Platonic- of, relating to, or having a close relationship in which there is no romance or sex
  176. Pooh-bah- person holding many position or offices
  177. Prima facie- accepted as so until proved otherwise
  178. Primus inter pares- the senior or representative member of a group
  179. Pro bono- law
  180. Pro forma- something that is done usually but has little meaning
  181. Pro patria- for one’s country
  182. Pros and cons- good and bad
  183. Protégé– student
  184. Proviso– requirement for an agreement to be made
  185. Quasi– as if
  186. Quid pro quo– a favour or advantage given in return for something
  187. Quorum- the minimum number of members of an assembly
  188. RAIP/requiescat in pace- rest in peace
  189. Raison d’être- the most important reason for someone or something’s existence
  190. Realpolitik- politics based on practicality
  191. Repertoire or repertory– a stock of plays, dances, or pieces that a company or a performer knows or is prepared to perform; the whole body of items that are regularly performed
  192. Requiem- act or token of remembrance
  193. Restaurateur- a restaurant owner.
  194. Résumé– account of person’s credentials
  195. Rite de passage- rite of passage
  196. Sang froid– the ability to stay calm in difficult circumstances (literally ‘cold blood’)
  197. Sans– without
  198. Savoir faire– the ability to act appropriately in social situations
  199. Schadenfreude- pleasure derived from other’s misfortune
  200. Schmuck- a name for someone who is foolish
  201. Shtick– a stage routine with a certain gimmick
  202. Sic– thus
  203. Simpatico– likeable
  204. Sine die- (of proceedings) adjourned indefinitely
  205. Sine qua non- a thing that is absolutely essential (literally ‘without which not’)
  206. Skullduggery– secret or behavior
  207. Smorgasbord– varied collection
  208. Socratic- of or relating to Socrates, his followers, or his philosophical method of systematic doubt and questioning of another to elicit a clear expression of a truth supposed to be knowable by all rational beings
  209. Spartan- sternly disciplined and rigorously simple
  210. Sphinx- a creature with the body of a lion and the head of a person
  211. Status quo– the state in which
  212. Stet- remain as is
  213. Stoic- a person who accepts what happens without complaining or showing emotion
  214. Sub judice- being considered by a court of law and therefore not to be publicly discussed elsewhere
  215. Sub rosa- happening or done in secret
  216. Subpoena- under penalty
  217. Sui generis– unique
  218. Summa cum laude or magna cum laude– great honors
  219. Tabula rasa– blank slate
  220. Take the mickey out of someone– to tease someone lightheartedly
  221. Terra firma– solid land
  222. Tete-a-tete– “head to head”; an intimate get-together or private conversation between two people
  223. Toilette– he process of dressing or grooming.
  224. Touché or touché– “head to head”; an intimate get-together/private conversation between two people
  225. Tour de force– “feat of strength”: a masterly or brilliant stroke, creation, effect, or accomplishment
  226. Triumvirate- a group of three people who share a position of authority or power
  227. Troika– a group of three
  228. Trojan- a person who was born or who lived in the ancient city of Troy
  229. Trojan horse- person or thing used secretly to undermine a downfall of someone or something
  230. Uber– super
  231. Ultra vires- beyond the powers
  232. Vamoose– to depart
  233. Verbatim- in exactly the same words that has been said
  234. Verklempt– in reverse order from where it started
  235. Vice versa– in reverse order from where it started
  236. Vis-a-visFrench in relation to; as compared with
  237. Viva voce- by word of mouth
  238. – videlicet
  239. Voilà– look there
  240. Vox populi– public opinion
  241. Whirling dervish– to call something that is wild or frenzied
  242. Wunderkind– wonder child, prodigy
  243. Zeitgeist– the characteristic spirit or mood of a particular historical period
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