List of Greek & Latin terms in English

Latin and Greek phrases are littered through the English Language; some are used by the commonly everyday , others are specialized terms used in law, medicine, science or academia. Here are some of them with their respective meanings:

ab initio – from the beginning – in law, the beginning of an investigation. In literature, the beginning of a story.

ad hoc – to this – Generally means “for this”, in the sense of improvised or intended only for a specific, immediate purpose; used in the sense of a “temporary measure or arrangement”.

ad hominen – to the man – or “targeting the man”. An ad hominen attack refers to the attack on the person making the argument instead of attacking the argument.

ad infinitum – to infinity – Enduring forever or repeating forever. Enduring forever. Used to designate a property which repeats in all cases in mathematical proof. Also used in philosophical contexts to mean “repeating in all cases”.

ad interim – for the meantime.

ad nauseaum – to sea sickness – or “to the point of disgust “. used to refer to something that is repeated endlessly until the persons listening are “sick of it”

ad valorem – according to the value – Used in commerce to refer to ad valorem taxes, i. e., taxes based on the assessed value of real estate or personal property.

addendum – thing to be added – An item to be added, especially as a supplement to a book. The plural is addenda.

affidavit – he asserted – A legal term from “fides” (“faith”), originating at least from Medieval Latin to denote a statement under oath.

alias  –  at another time, otherwise – An assumed name or pseudonym; similar to alter ego, but more specifically referring to a name, not to a “second self”.

alibi – elsewhere – A legal defense where a defendant attempts to show that he was elsewhere at the time a crime was committed. For example: His alibi is sound; he gave evidence that he was in another city on the night of the murder.

alma mater – nourishing mother – A term used for the university one attends or has attended. Another university term, matriculation, is also derived from mater. The term suggests that the students are “fed” knowledge and taken care of by the university. The term is also used for a university’s traditional school anthem.

alter ego –  another I – Another self, a second persona or alias. Can be used to describe different facets or identities of a single character, or different characters who seem representations of the same personality. Often used of a fictional character’s secret identity.

alumnus or alumna – pupil – Graduate or former student of a school, college, or university. Plural of alumnus is alumni (male). Plural of alumna is alumnae (female).

amicus curiae – friend of the court – An adviser, or a person who can obtain or grant access to the favour of a powerful group, e. g., the a Roman Curia. In current United States legal usage, an amicus curiae is a third party allowed to submit a legal opinion in the form of an amicus brief to the court.

Nominalization is a process whereby a word that belongs to another part of speech comes to be used as a noun. For example, an adjective can act as a noun referring to people who have the characteristics denoted by the adjective. For example,

This legislation will have the most impact on the poor.
The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong.
The Socialist International is a worldwide association of political parties.

In the above examples, poor, swift and strong refer to people with those qualities. International refers to the organization of worldwide socialist parties



A phrase is a group of related words that form a single unit, but do not contain a subject and a verb.

Some examples of phrases include:

A swarm of bees

has been to London

very bright

too fast

in the valley

Phrases are categorized as noun phrases, verb phrases, adjectival phrases, adverbial phrases and prepositional phrases to name a few, based on their structure and also the role or grammatical category they represent.

Usually, there is a single key-word which dominates the phrase and it decides the type of phrase. The rest of the words depend on this single word.

For example:

A swarm of bees is a noun phrase and the word swarm – a noun – is the dominant word in the phrase. The phrase names a particular thing and so it performs the role of a noun.

A swarm of bees descended on the village.

Here the noun phrase acts as the subject in the sentence, and hence it is a subject phrase.

The villagers saw a swarm of bees.

Here the noun phrase acts as the object of the verb saw in the sentence; hence it is an object phrase.

He has been to London recently.

has been is the verb phrase.

He would have been here if not for the huge traffic jam. (Verb phrase highlighted)

It was a very bright star that shone from the heavens above.

In the above example, very bright, is an adjectival phrase describing the noun star.

He ran too fast, and so they could not catch him.

too fast is the adverbial phrase describing how he ran.

The forests in the valley were green and virgin.

in the valley is a prepositional phrase, as it gives the position of the noun in relation to the rest of the constituents of the sentence.

The following sentence contains all the types of phrases.

He saw a swarm of bees deep in the valley, and they were flying too fast to be noticed against the background of bright green trees.

There are few more types of phrases, based on the grammatical categories such as participial phrase, gerund phrase, infinitive phrase, and a few more, which we shall see later.

Collective Nouns used both as Singular and Plural

While collective nouns, which refer to groups of people, animals or things are usually singular, some of them can be used in the singular or plural. If the writer wants to focus on the group, then he will use the singular form. But if he wants to focus on the members of the group, he will use the plural forum.

The jury were unable to reach a verdict.

In the above, the author by using the plural verb were, is focusing on the individual members of the jury. If he wished to focus on the jury as a group, he would say,

The Jury locks itself up for the duration of the trial, to avoid being influenced by television coverage of the criminal proceedings.

Likewise the other collective nouns such as government, teams, people, audience can be used with singular or plural verbs depending on whether you want to focus on the members of the group or the group itself.

A list of nouns that can be singular or plural depending on the context. This usually happens when the collective noun refers to a group consisting of individual members.














In British English the collective nouns can be singular or plural. However in American English, they are always singular except in peculiar circumstances.

In the SAT, the above list of words are always singular unless the context forces the reader to look at the individual members, in which case they are plural.


Pronoun Ambiguity

Pronoun Ambiguity is a type of grammatical error which occurs when it is not clear what the antecedent of a pronoun in the sentence is.

For example:

Jane exercised daily with Rose so that she can stay fit.

In the above example, it is not clear, whom the pronoun she is referring to. Is it referring to Jane or Rose?

John visited the restaurant, had some tea, and then recommended it to others.

James and Charlie were waiting for me at the airport. When I arrived, he got very angry.

When the math teacher asked the student for his homework, he looked embarrassed.

Honey and Rose hugged each other and she thanked her for helping her in a difficult situation.

In the above examples, it is not clear to which of the two nouns, the pronoun refers to. This means that the sentence can be interpreted in more than one way, and some interpretations are funny. To avoid these kinds of situations, always make clear the noun that the pronoun refers to.

Vague Pronouns are pronouns which do not have an antecedent at all. For example:

They know that life will be difficult after this year’s budget is passed. (1)

In the University, they don’t tell you everything in the lectures. (2)

Once he joins college, he will know how to conduct himself. (3)

In the above examples, the pronouns do not have an antecedent noun at all. If these sentences were a part of a larger paragraph, then it might be clear what the pronouns are referring to. But in the above stand-alone sentences, they make no sense whatsoever. We use vague pronouns in everyday life, since often the context is clear and so everybody understands what the pronouns are referring to. For example , they in (1) could refer to the people or even the politicians who pass the budget. And in (2), they refers to either professors or lecturers.

However, in written English, you need to make things very clear by mentioning the nouns.

Defer – What does it mean?

The word defer in English has two different meanings.

1. Defer – means to postpone something.To put off, or delay an action or activity or plan or work.


The winter offensive was deferred by the Army Chief, fearing that heavy snowfall will delay the progress of his army into the enemy territory.

The government agreed to defer new taxes until next year, keeping in mind the economic situation in the country.

To defer is to postpone, and to postpone is to delay and to delay in today’s world is to be dead.

The noun form is deferment – the act of delaying or postponing; specifically :  official postponement of military service.

For Example:

– the policies of military deferment

The Air Force Chief was not satisfied with the deferment of the plan to purchase new fighter aircraft.

2. Defer

(a) – to delegate to another. He deferred his job to his colleagues.

(b) – to submit to another’s wishes, opinion, or governance usually out of respect .

to yield respectfully in judgement or opinion.

For example:

The son deferred to his father in business matters.

He always deferred to his Guru in matters of importance.

The noun form is deference. It refers to a way of behaving that shows respect for someone or something.

In deference to his wife’s wishes, he decided to postpone the company’s merger meeting.

(c) – to submit for decision, refer:

We defer questions which have legal implications to our lawyer.Many forms of Defer


Ode To A Nightingale

                             — John Keats

My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains
My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,
Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains
One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk:
‘Tis not through envy of thy happy lot,
But being too happy in thy happiness,—-
That thou, light-winged Dryad of the trees,
In some melodious plot
Of beechen green, and shadows numberless,
Singest of summer in full-throated ease.

O for a draught of vintage, that hath been
Cooled a long age in the deep-delved earth,
Tasting of Flora and the country green,
Dance, and Provencal song, and sun-burnt mirth!
O for a beaker full of the warm South,
Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene,
With beaded bubbles winking at the brim,
And purple-stained mouth;
That I might drink, and leave the world unseen,
And with thee fade away into the forest dim:

Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget
What thou among the leaves hast never known,
The weariness, the fever, and the fret
Here, where men sit and hear each other groan;
Where palsy shakes a few, sad, last gray hairs,
Where youth grows pale, and spectre-thin, and dies;
Where but to think is to be full of sorrow
And leaden-eyed despairs;
Where beauty cannot keep her lustrous eyes,
Or new love pine at them beyond tomorrow.

Away! away! for I will fly to thee,
Not charioted by Bacchus and his pards,
But on the viewless wings of Poesy,
Though the dull brain perplexes and retards:
Already with thee! tender is the night,
And haply the Queen-Moon is on her throne,
Clustered around by all her starry fays;
But here there is no light,
Save what from heaven is with the breezes blown
Through verdurous glooms and winding mossy ways.

I cannot see what flowers are at my feet,
Nor what soft incense hangs upon the boughs,
But, in embalmed darkness, guess each sweet
Wherewith the seasonable month endows
The grass, the thicket, and the fruit-tree wild;
White hawthorn, and the pastoral eglantine;
Fast-fading violets covered up in leaves;
And mid-May’s eldest child,
The coming musk-rose, full of dewy wine,
The murmurous haunt of flies on summer eves.

Darkling I listen; and for many a time
I have been half in love with easeful Death,
Called him soft names in many a mused rhyme,
To take into the air my quiet breath;
Now more than ever seems it rich to die,
To cease upon the midnight with no pain,
While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad
In such an ecstasy!
Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in vain—-
To thy high requiem become a sod

Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird!
No hungry generations tread thee down;
The voice I hear this passing night was heard
In ancient days by emperor and clown:
Perhaps the self-same song that found a path
Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home,
She stood in tears amid the alien corn;
The same that oft-times hath
Charmed magic casements, opening on the foam
Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn.

Forlorn! the very word is like a bell
To toll me back from thee to my sole self!
Adieu! the fancy cannot cheat so well
As she is famed to do, deceiving elf.
Adieu! adieu! thy plaintive anthem fades
Past the near meadows, over the still stream,
Up the hill-side; and now ’tis buried deep
In the next valley-glades:
Was it a vision, or a waking dream?
Fled is that music:—-do I wake or sleep?

Faithless Sally Brown

Faithless Sally Brown

Young Ben he was a nice young man,
A carpenter by trade;
And he fell in love with Sally Brown,
That was a lady’s maid.

But as they fetch’d a walk one day,
They met a press-gang crew;
And Sally she did faint away,
Whilst Ben he was brought to.

The Boatswain swore with wicked words,
Enough to shock a saint,
That though she did seem in a fit,
‘Twas nothing but a feint.

“Come, girl,” said he, “hold up your head,
He’ll be as good as me;
For when your swain is in our boat,
A boatswain he will be.”

So when they’d made their game of her,
And taken off her elf,
She roused, and found she only was
A coming to herself.

“And is he gone, and is he gone?”
She cried, and wept outright:
“Then I will to the water side,
And see him out of sight.”

A waterman came up to her,–
“Now, young woman,” said he,
“If you weep on so, you will make
Eye-water in the sea.”

“Alas! they’ve taken my beau Ben
To sail with old Benbow;”
And her woe began to run afresh,
As if she’d said Gee woe!

Says he, “They’ve only taken him
To the Tender ship, you see”;
“The Tender-ship,” cried Sally Brown
“What a hard-ship that must be!”

“O! would I were a mermaid now,
For then I’d follow him;
But Oh!–I’m not a fish-woman,
And so I cannot swim.

“Alas! I was not born beneath
The virgin and the scales,
So I must curse my cruel stars,
And walk about in Wales.”

Now Ben had sail’d to many a place
That’s underneath the world;
But in two years the ship came home,
And all her sails were furl’d.

But when he call’d on Sally Brown,
To see how she went on,
He found she’d got another Ben,
Whose Christian-name was John.

“O Sally Brown, O Sally Brown,
How could you serve me so?
I’ve met with many a breeze before,
But never such a blow”:

Then reading on his ‘bacco box
He heaved a bitter sigh,
And then began to eye his pipe,
And then to pipe his eye.

And then he tried to sing “All’s Well,”
But could not though he tried;
His head was turn’d, and so he chew’d
His pigtail till he died.

His death, which happen’d in his berth,
At forty-odd befell:
They went and told the sexton, and
The sexton toll’d the bell.

Thomas Hood

Faithless Nelli Gray

Faithless Nelly Gray

         —-     A Pathetic Ballad

Ben Battle was a soldier bold,
And used to war’s alarms;
But a cannon-ball took off his legs,
So he laid down his arms.

Now as they bore him off the field,
Said he, ‘Let others shoot;
For here I leave my second leg,
And the Forty-second Foot.’

The army-surgeons made him limbs:
Said he, ‘They’re only pegs;
But there’s as wooden members quite,
As represent my legs.’

Now Ben he loved a pretty maid, —
Her name was Nelly Gray;
So he went to pay her his devours,
When he devoured his pay.

But when he called on Nelly Gray,
She made him quite a scoff;
And when she saw his wooden legs,
Began to take them off.

‘O Nelly Gray! O Nelly Gray!’
Is this your love so warm?
The love that loves a scarlet coat
Should be a little more uniform.

Said she, ‘ I loved a soldier once,
For he was blithe and brave;
But I will never have a man
With both legs in the grave

‘Before you had those timber toes
Your love I did allow;
But then, you know, you stand upon
Another footing now.’

‘O Nelly Gray! O Nelly Gray!
For all your jeering speeches,
At duty’s call I left my legs
In Badajos’s breaches.’

‘Why, then,’ said she, ‘you’ve lost the feet
Of legs in war’s alarms,
And now you cannot wear your shoes
Upon your feats of arms!’

‘O false and fickle Nelly Gray!
I know why you refuse:
Though I’ve no feet, some other man
Is standing in my shoes.

‘I wish I ne’er had seen your face;
But, now, a long farewell!
For you will be my death’ — alas!
You will not be my Nell!’

Now when he went from Nelly Gray
His heart so heavy got,
And life was such a burden grown,
It made him take a knot.

So round his melancholy neck
A rope he did intwine,
And, for his second time in life,
Enlisted in the Line.

One end he tied around a beam,
And then removed his pegs;
And, as his legs were off — of course
He soon was off his legs.

And there he hung till he was dead
As any nail in town;
For, though distress had cut him up,
It could not cut him down.

A dozen men sat on his corpse,
To find out why he died, —
And they buried Ben in four cross-roads
With a stake in his inside.

Thomas Hood

Puns for Educated Minds


Puns for Educated Minds

I found this on the internet and thought I would share it with one and all !

1. The fattest knight at King Arthur’s round table was Sir Cumference.
He acquired his size from too much pi.

2. I thought I saw an eye doctor on an Alaskan island, but it turned out to be an optical Aleutian .

3. She was only a whiskey maker, but he loved her still.

4. A rubber band pistol was confiscated from algebra class, because it was a weapon of math disruption.

5. No matter how much you push the envelope, it’ll still be stationery.

6. A dog gave birth to puppies near the road and was cited for littering.

7. A grenade thrown into a kitchen in France would result in Linoleum Blownapart.

8. Two silk worms had a race. They ended up in a tie.

9. A hole has been found in the nudist camp wall. The police are looking into it.

10. Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.

11. Atheism is a non-prophet organization.

12. Two hats were hanging on a hat rack in the hallway One hat said to the other: ‘You stay here; I’ll go on a head.’

13. I wondered why the baseball kept getting bigger. Then it hit me.

14. A sign on the lawn at a drug rehab center said: ‘Keep off the Grass.’

15. The midget fortune-teller who escaped from prison was a small medium at large.

16. The soldier who survived mustard gas and pepper spray is now a seasoned veteran.

17. A backward poet writes inverse.

18. In a democracy it’s your vote that counts. In feudalism it’s your count that votes.

19. When cannibals ate a missionary, they got a taste of religion.

20. If you jumped off the bridge in Paris, you’d be in Seine .

21. A vulture boards an airplane, carrying two dead raccoons. The stewardess looks at him and says, ‘I’m sorry, sir, only one carrion allowed per passenger.’

22. Two fish swim into a concrete wall. One turns to the other and says ‘Dam!’

23. Two Eskimos sitting in a kayak were chilly, so they lit a fire in the craft Unsurprisingly it sank, proving once again that you can’t have your kayak and heat it too.

24. Two hydrogen atoms meet. One says, ‘I’ve lost my electron.’ The other says ‘Are you sure?’ The first replies, ‘Yes, I’m positive.’

25. Did you hear about the Buddhist who refused Novocain during a root canal? His goal: transcend dental medication.

26. There was the person who sent ten puns to friends, with the hope that at least one of the puns would make them laugh. No pun in ten did.

Some additions from me……

Two cannibals eating a white explorer in Africa.

Cannibal One to Another: Doctor Livingstone, I consume?

And the following are those who are familiar with mathematics.

Q:Why was e never known so well?

A:Because when he tried to differentiate himself, he ended up being his same old self!

The celibate priest was caught having an affair with none!


Do you have any puns of your own? Do share it with me!