Latin Phrases for College Students and Professionals
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Latin Phrases for College Students and Professionals

An overview of key Latin phrases that every college/university student and professional ought to know. Addresses honors: rite, cum laude, magna cum laude, summa cum laude; titles: alumnus, alumna, alumnae, alumni, emeritus, emeriti, emerita, emeritae; and common phrases and abbreviations (etc., et al., i.e., e.g., ibid., N.B., A.M., P.M., de novo).

1. Honors

While universities are free to set their own standards and choose to offer Honors in English, Latin, both, or neither, these Latin phrases are common enough that every college student and professional ought to be familiar with them. For further information about listing degrees and those Latin abbreviations, see my article:

Note that in the following, summa is pronounced like the su- in sue, not like the su- in sum. Cum is pronounced like "coom." One should never list phrases like "cum laude honor" as these translate to nonsensical phrases such as "with honors honors."

Rite-"Successfully" A degree awarded without Honors.

Cum Laude-"with Honors"

Magna Cum Laude-"with High [Great] Honors" Note that "gn" requires a special gemination Latin, meaning that Magna is properly pronounced "Mangna."

Summa Cum Laude-"with Highest Honors"

Thank-tha-laude-A non-Latin, jocular term for one who barely graduates

2. Graduates, Former Students, Titles

Alumnus-A male graduate or former male student, especially of a college or university.

Alumna-A female graduate or former female student, especially of a college or university.

Alumnae-A group of graduates or former students who are exclusively female. The proper Latin pronunciation is alumn-eye, but is almost exclusively pronounced "alum-nay" in English.

Alumni-A group of graduates or former students who are either exclusively male or contain both males and females. The proper Latin pronunciation is "alumn-nee," but is almost exclusively pronounced "alumn-eye" in English. Many schools will list Alumnae/i events to emphasize that they are not favoring one gender the other.

Alma Mater-Nurturing mother; the college or university one graduated from. The proper Latin plural is almae matres, but is usually rendered as "alma maters" in English.

Emeritus (Masculine)/Emerita (Feminine)-A status granted to certain officials (Especially Professors, Presidents, and Trustees), usually at retirement and after many years of distinguished service. Many Professors Emeriti remain affiliated with their college/university and may teach a few courses and be granted benefits such as office space.

Emerita is an invented feminine equivalent that doesn't strictly exist in original Latin. Thus, some schools use emeritus exclusively. The proper plurals are "Emeriti" and "Emeritae."

3. Common Phrases and Abbreviations

Et Cetera (And Others)-Used prinicipally in lists to indicate the omission of additional things.

Et Alia (Et Al.)-Used principally in lists to indicate the omission of additional people, especially authors.

Per se-"In and of itself" While the professor does not support Communism per se, he would like to see less social equality.

Id Est (i.e)--That is. Used to restate an idea or concept in an equivalent fashion. Finishing a degree (i.e., graduating), marks the end of one's study toward a particular degree.

Exempli Gratia (E.g.)--For Example. Note: One should not use "e.g." and "etc." in the same list as "e.g." implies that the list isn't all-inclusive.

Ibidem (Ibid.)--From the same place, often used in citing sources.

Nota Bene (N.B.)--Note well. Used to call attention to important points.

Ante Meridiem (A.M.)--Before Noon (Thus, it makes no sense to say "12 AM" for 12 Noon)

Post Meridiem (P.M.)--After Noon

De Novo-From the beginning; afresh. One who begins a second doctorate or master's degree may be required to pursue the degree de novo, without transfer credit and as if they didn't hold the other degree.

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