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Common Latin and Non-English Abbreviations Used in Research:

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A.D. 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).

c. 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.

etc. 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.

e.g. 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.

ib./ ibid. 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. . . ."

i.e. 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."

sic. Indicates 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 words" [sic].

Ph. D. 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."

vs. versus. "Turned 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.


Less Common Foreign Abbreviations (But Still Worth Knowing)

a.v. ad 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."

i.a. in 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, i.a."

MS. manuscriptum. 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."

P.S. post 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 me back!"

R.S.V.P. Repondez 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."

S.P.Q.R. Senatus 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."

s.p.s. sine prole supersite. "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."

t.i.d. ter 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."

viz. videlicit. "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."

vide. "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, vide supra."

N.B.: Nota Bene. 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.

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