was once the universal academic language
in Europe. From the eighteenth century authors started using their
mother tongue to write books, papers or proceedings. However, many
Latin abbreviations continued to be used due to their precise
simplicity and also Latin's status as a learned language.
Most common abbreviations and usages
The most common Latin words, abbreviations
, and initialisms
still in use are:
- Cap. (capitulus), "chapter", is used
before a chapter number of laws of the United Kingdom and its (former) colonies,
Kong. Example: Electronic Transactions
Ordinance (Cap. 553). In some practices the full stop is omitted:
- cf. (confer)
means "bring together" and hence "compare" (confer is the
imperative of the Latin verb conferre).
- Example: "These results were similar to those obtained using
different techniques (cf. Wilson, 1999 and Ansmann, 1992)."
- C.V. or CV (curriculum vitae), meaning "course of
life". A document containing a summary or listing of relevant job
experience and education. The exact usage of the term varies
between British English and American English.
- DG, D.G. or DEI GRA (Dei
gratia), "by the grace of God". A part of the monarch's
title, it is found on all British coins.
- et al. (et
alii) means "and others", or "and co-workers". It can also
stand for et alia, "and other things", or et
alibi, "and other places".
- Example: "These results agree with the ones published by Pelon
et al. (2002)."
- etc. (et
cetera) (archaic abbreviations include &c.
and &/c.) means "and the others", "and other things",
"and the rest".
- Example: "I need to go to the store and buy some pie, milk,
- Example: "The shipping company instituted a surcharge on any
items weighing over a ton, e.g. a car or truck."
- ff. is a reduplication of foliis meaning "from pages" and is used in
citations to mean "and on succeeding pages." Example: "See Werner Jaeger, Paideia III, p. 13 ff."
- fl. or flor. (floruit) means the period of time during which
a person, school, movement or even species was active or
flourishing (literally, "he/she/it flourished").
- F D or FID DEF (fidei
defensor), "defender of the faith." A part of the
monarch's title, it is found on all British coins.
- ibid. (ibidem) means "in the same place (book, etc.)",
and is used in citations. It should not be confused with the
following abbreviation. It is better pronounced ibídem,
with stress on the second -i- (as it was in Latin).
- id. (idem)
means "the same (man)". It is used to avoid repeating the name of a
male author (in citations, footnotes, bibliographies, etc.) Note
that if we are quoting a female author, we should use the
corresponding feminine form, i.e. ead.
(eadem), "the same (woman)"
(eadem is pronounced with stress on the first
- Example: "Ernest Hemingway- author (i.a. 'The Sun Also
- i.e. (id
est) means "that is" or "in other words".
- Example: "For reasons not fully understood there is only a
minor PSI contribution to the variable fluorescence emission of
chloroplasts (Dau, 1994), i.e. the PSI fluorescence appears to be
independent from the state of its reaction centre (Butler,
- J.D. (Juris Doctor),
literally means "teacher of law/rights".
- M.A. (Magister Artium), "Master of Arts" is a
postgraduate academic master degree awarded by universities in many
countries. The degree is typically studied for in Fine Art,
Humanities, Social Science or Theology and can be either
fully-taught, research-based, or a combination of the two.
- N.B. (nota
bene) means "note well". Some people use "Note" for the
same purpose. Usually written with majuscule (French upper case / 'capital')
- Example: "N.B.: All the measurements have an accuracy of 5% as
they were calibrated according to the procedure described by
- nem. con. (nemine contradicente) means "with
no one speaking against". This does NOT mean "unanimously", but
simply that nobody voted against - in other words, there may have
- op. cit. (opere
citato) means in the same article, book etc. as was mentioned
before. It is most often used in citations in a similar way to
'ibid', though 'ibid' would usually be followed by a page
- p.a. (per
annum) means "through a year", and is used in the sense of
- per cent. (per centum), "for
each one hundred" / [commonly "percent"]:
- P.M. (Post Meridiem), "after
- P.S. (post scriptum) means "after what has been
written"; it is used to indicate additions to a text after the
- Q.D. (quaque
die), "every day", used on medications to indicate when to
- Q.E.D. (quod erat demonstrandum)
means "which was to be demonstrated". Cited in many texts at the
end of a mathematical proof.
- q.v. (quod videre) literally
"which to see" -- used as an imperative. Used after a term or
phrase that should be looked up elsewhere in the current document
or book. For more than one term or phrase, the plural is quae
- Re (in re) means "in the matter
of", or "concerning". Often used to prefix the subject of replies
to memoranda and latterly, emails. Nominative case singular 'res' is the Latin
equivalent of 'thing'; singular 're' is the ablative case required
by 'in'. Some people believe it is short for 'regarding'.
- REG (regina), "queen". A part of the monarch's title,
it is found on all British coins minted during the reign of a
monarch who is a queen. Rex, "king" (not an abbreviation)
is used when the reigning monarch is a king.
- R.I.P. (requiescat in pace), "may he/she
rest in peace": a short prayer for a dead person. It can also mean
requiescant (plural) in pace, i.e. "may they"
- ( sic ) "thus". [ 'nuculear' (sic) ] Indicates that the text is
literally transcribed from the original. Often written in
parentheses following a misspelled word to indicate that the error
is the original writer's mistake — and that the copy proofer saw
the error, but rightly did not correct it. May also be used to
indicate that idiosyncratic, questionable, or archaic usage is from
the original, and not introduced accidentally during
- viz. (videlicet) means "namely, to wit, precisely,
that is to say". In contradistinction to i.e. and
e.g., viz. is used to indicate a detailed
description of something stated before, and when it precedes a list
of group members, it implies (near) completeness. Example: "The
noble gases, viz. helium, neon, argon, xenon, krypton and radon,
show a non-expected behaviour when exposed to this new
- vs or v. (versus) means "against" (sometimes is not
- Example: "From Figure 1 that shows force (in newtons) vs. mass
(in kilograms) we can derive the acceleration of the body." Or,
"The next football game will be the knights vs. the sea
Less common abbreviations and usages
Many words and abbreviations have been in general use, but are not
often used nowadays:
- in litt. (in litteris) :
Latin for "in a letter [or other documented correspondence]"; often
followed by a date.
- a.U.c. (ab Urbe
condita or Anno Urbis conditae) : Latin
for "from the foundation of the
City": it refers to the founding of Rome, which occurred in
753 BC according to Livy's count. Used as a reference point in
ancient Rome for establishing dates, before being supplanted by
other systems. Also anno Urbis conditae (a.U.c.) ("in the
year that the City [Rome] was founded"). For example, the year 2007
AD is the year 2760 ab Urbe condita (753
+ 2007 = 2760); though, rigorously speaking, the year
a.U.c. begins on April 21, the birthday of Rome (i.e. the day that
Romulus was traditionally believed to have
founded the Eternal City).
- et seq. (et sequens), et
seqq or et sequa. (et sequentes, or et sequentia)
: "and the following" (use et seqq or et sequa. if "the
following" is plural). Not unlike the full colon [ : ] which means
"the following" i.e. that which follows is a listing of that which
precedes the ' : '. ( Incorrectly used, "the following:" )
- loq. (loquitur), "S/he
- O.D. (oculus dexter) :
"the right eye". Used in vision correction prescriptions.
- O.S. (oculus sinister)
: "the left eye". Used in vision correction prescriptions.
- r. (rexit) : 'ruled'.
Used for the time period of a monarch or other ruler's reign
(e.g.: Mehmet III [r. 1595 – 1603])
- Q.E.C. (quod erat
construendum) : "which was to be constructed" (after
constructing something, normally to show its existence)
- sc. (scilicet) means literally "one may know".
Sometimes abbreviated scil. It is equivalent to the
English phrase "to wit" and has virtually the same meaning as
"videlicet" (literally, "one may see"), which is usually
abbreviated as "viz." These expressions are not to be confused with
"i.e." (id est), equivalent to "that is". Their meanings are
similar, but there is a distinction which should be observed: "sc."
and "viz." introduce a clarification; "i.e." introduces an
- S.T.T.L. (sit tibi terra
levis) means "May the earth rest lightly on you" and was
used in similar manner to R.I.P.
- s.v. (sub verbo) : "Under the
word or heading", as in a dictionary
- S.V.B.E.E.V. (si vales bene est ego valeo): "if you
are well, it is good. I am well."
- ult. (ultimo mense) :
"last month" (see also inst. and prox.)
- V.C. (vi coactus) : "on
constrains". Used when forced to sign ("or else...")