Latin and Non-English Abbreviations Used in Research:
click here for a PDF
handout of this information.
Anno Domini. Used
to date years by reckoning the date of Christ's birth, as
opposed to B.C., the years "Before Christ." Literally, Anno
Domini means "In the year of the Lord." Remember two important
notes! Anno Domini does not mean "After Death." (If
it did, there would be a thirty-three year gap between 1 BC
and the crucifixion thirty-three years later.) Also note the
politically correct tendency is to use the abbreviation CE
(Common Era) and BCE (Before Common Era). These abbreviations
are an attempt to avoid the religious connotations of the
Latin abbreviation. In spite of the name change, BCE and CE
still divide history according to the life of Christ, but
CE and BCE may be less offensive (or at least less ethnocentric)
to a non-Christian audience.
cf. confere. A Latin imperative suggesting the reader should compare and contrast one statement or idea with another one. Literally, “compare.” Researchers often follow the abbreviation with a reference to an author or page number, suggesting the reader look for similarities and differences between what a previous citation has said with the subsequent source listed.
Usage: Some scholars think Hitler’s Mein Kampf used genocidal ideas found in earlier anti-Semitic literature him (Smith 42), but others argue Hitler himself was the primary originator (cf. Jones 98).
circa. Used by historians
to show that a date is approximate. Literally, the word means
"around," and it is sometimes abbreviated "ca." Usage: Shortly
after Henry IV seized the throne from Richard II, Geoffrey
Chaucer died (c.1400 A.D.), perhaps due to old age.
et cetera. "And
so on." This is the one Latin abbreviation most students already
know, and the one they tend to overuse. Do note that, since
et already means and, it is redundant to write,
"and etc." Literally, the Latin phrase means "and other things."
Usage: The problems of the Balkan Republics are numerous,
including insufficient electric power, poor highways, rampant
unemployment, hostile neighbors, etc.
exempli gratia. "For
example." Literally, "free as an example." Usage: "We
have numerous problems to deal with before reforming welfare
policies, e.g., the trade deficit, Medicare, and social security."
et pass. et passim. And also found throughout the subsequent pages or sections. Literally, “And in the following.” The abbreviation typically appears after a citation of a single page, suggesting the reader look at that page first and then skim the material following for further discussion.
Usage: For further discussion of this important issue, see Smith 42 et passim.
ibidem. "In the
same passage or page quoted above." Literally, "In the same
place." Usage: "One physicist
compared the behavior of quarks to bowling pins (Jones 35).
He also indicated that the 'Charm' quark was like a 'bowling
ball' (ibid.) due to the way it. . . ."
id est. "That is
more precisely." Literally, "it is." Commonly used to refine
a general statement or provide additional information. Usage:
"Jerry's girlfriend always managed to turn the conversation
toward children, i.e., the possibility of having children
together; i.e., the possibility of having legitimate children
together; i.e., toward the subject of marriage."
a misspelling or error in a quoted source, in order to verify
to the reader that the researcher did not create a typographical
error, but instead exactly reproduces the way the word or
statement appeared in the original material. Literally, "yes"
or "even thus" in Latin. Usage: There are, according to the
writings of seven-year old Andrew, "Manee wayes of riting
Philosophiae Doctor. "Doctor
(or Doctorate) of Philosophy." It can refer to the individual
as a title, or to the degree itself. Note that it is redundant
to write, "Dr. McGillicutty is a Ph. D." unless the writer
seeks to distinguish him from a medical doctor such as an
M.D. Usage: "Joe
Bob McGillicutty, Ph. D., is on the committee." Or, "McGillicutty
earned his Ph. D. in art history."
against." Often used in abbreviations for legal trials--though
"v." is more common. Usage: "In the case of
Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court eventually decided that
abortion was a medical right." Don't confuse the term
"vs." with "v.s." (see below). And don't confuse the word
versus with verses.
Foreign Abbreviations (But Still Worth Knowing)
valorem. "In proportion
to the value of [something else]." Literally, "To
the value." Usage: "The monetary worth of the dollar is figured
a.v. the price of gold."
absentia. "In absence."
Usage: "With further evidence i.a., it is impossible to provide
a definitive answer." Or more commonly, "The criminal who
had fled the country was tried and found guilty of murder,
A document, particularly an ancient or historical manuscript,
that was not printed, but rather drawn or written. Literally,
"By hand." The term is capitalized when attached to a specific
document's title, and the plural form is MSS. In British
usage, only the final letter typically has a period. Usage:
"MS. Vercilli was found in Northern Italy, and it appears
to be written in an Anglo-Saxon dialect."
scriptum. The abbreviation
indicates a last-minute addition to a letter or document.
Literally, "After what has been written." Usage: "That's all
for now. Take care. Love, John. P.S. Don't forget to write
S'il Vous-Plait. "Please
send a response confirming whether or not you will accept
the invitation." The abbreviation is French rather than Latin.
Literally, "Respond if it pleases you." Note that it is redundant
to write, "Please RSVP," since the phrase itself implies "please."
Usage: "You are cordially invited to a wine-and-cheese reception
at the Bradson's House. RSVP by Thursday afternoon."
Populusque Romani. The
abbreviation was used in Roman times as a part of official
government documentation. Today, the phrase is used to refer
generally (and sometimes pompously or ironically) to the power,
glory, and bureaucracy of a major nation. Literally, "The
Senate and the People of Rome." Usage: "The S.P.Q.R. has spoken,
and now American soldiers must obey the call to arms."
"Without surviving issue." The phrase
is used in inheritance laws to indicate that an individual
has no children or legal inheritors. Usage: "Since Mrs.
Clayton died s.p.s., her six million dollar estate will revert
to the City of Portland."
in die. "Three times
a day." Used by older pharmacies and doctors to indicate that
a medication should be taken three times a day. Usage: "Aspirin,
t.i.d.; call if headaches continue."
"More appropriately or accurately; namely." The abbreviation
is often used interchangeably with i.e. Literally, "As it
befits or is pleasing to him." Usage: "He was a minor
Duke in the House of Lords, viz. the Duke of Rochester."
"Look" or "see." This phrase refers the reader back up to
a previous statement or definition within the body of the
paper. The must common uses are "vide 63" (which means "see
page sixty-three"), v.s. vide supra ("see earlier"
or "look above on this page") and v.i. vide infra ("See
below" or "Look below"). Don't confuse v.s. (vide
supra) with v. or vs. (versus).
Usage: "For the definition of the Latin word videlicit,
The Latin imperative means "Take notice of this very
carefully," that is, pay special attention to this part
because it is unusually important, tricky, or confusing. Usage:
All assignments are due at the beginning of class. N. B.:
I lock the door to the classroom once lecture begins.
Back to Research