Humanities › History & Culture Latin Words and Expressions in English Share Flipboard Email Print History & Culture Ancient History and Culture Ancient Languages Figures & Events Greece Egypt Asia Rome Mythology & Religion American History African American History African History Asian History European History Genealogy Inventions Latin American History Medieval & Renaissance History Military History The 20th Century Women's History View More By N.S. Gill Ancient History and Latin Expert M.A., Linguistics, University of Minnesota B.A., Latin, University of Minnesota N.S. Gill is a Latinist, writer, and teacher of ancient history and Latin. She has been featured by NPR and National Geographic for her ancient history expertise. our editorial process N.S. Gill Updated March 08, 2017 Why Learn About Latin Words and Expressions in English?: Some excellent reasons you might want to know more about Latin words and expressions in English are: You're studying for a vocabulary/admissions test.You're a non-native English speaker puzzled by the vocabulary.You're developing a character for a novel.You need a new word for a specific technical purpose.You are a stickler for language purity and don't want to create a hybrid word inadvertently. [See this "polyamory" t-shirt for more information.] The Latin Connection With English: It's confusing to hear that English doesn't come from Latin because there are so many Latin words and expressions in English, but vocabulary is not enough to make one language the daughter language of another. Romance languages, including French, Italian, and Spanish, come from Latin, an important sub-branch of the Italic branch of the Indo-European tree. The Romance languages are sometimes called daughter languages of Latin. English is a Germanic language, not a Romance or Italic language. The Germanic languages are on a different branch from the Italic. Just because our English language doesn't come from Latin doesn't mean all our words have a Germanic origin. Clearly, some words and expressions are Latin, like ad hoc. Others, e.g., habitat, circulate so freely that we're not aware they're Latin. Some came into English when Francophone Normans invaded Britain in 1066. Others, borrowed from Latin, have been modified. Latin TranslationA Biography of LatinThe Spread of LatinIndo-European Languages Latin Words in English: There are many Latin words in English. Some are more obvious than others because they are italicized. Others are used with nothing to set them apart as imported from Latin. You may not even be aware they're Latin, like "veto" or "etc." Latin Words in EnglishMore Latin Words in EnglishLatin Adjectives in EnglishLatin and Greek Geometry TermsLatin Religious Words in English Latin Words Incorporated in English Words: In addition to what we call borrowing (although there is no plan to return the borrowed words), Latin is used to form English words. Often English words contain a Latin word as a prefix. These Latin words are most often Latin prepositions. Many Latin words come into English with the preposition already attached to the verb. Sometimes the ending is changed to suit the needs of English; for instance, the verb may be converted to a noun. English Words With Latin PrepositionsGreek and Latin Prefixes and Suffixes For English WordsLatin Color Words"Borrowed" Words Latin Sayings in English: Some of these sayings are familiar in translation; others in their original Latin (or Greek). Most of them are profound and worth remembering (in either the classical or modern language). Latin Sayings in EnglishAncient Proverbs in Pictures More - Words and Ideas: Words and Ideas, edited by William J. Dominik, contains word-building techniques for those who want to learn how to combine bits of Latin or Greek to form proper words in English or for those interested in the meaning of those word components. Latin Grammar in English: Since English doesn't come from Latin it follows that the internal structure or grammar of English is different from Latin. But English grammar as it is taught in classes on grammar is based on Latin grammar. As a result, some official rules make limited or no sense. One that is familiar, in its violation, from the Star Trek series, is the rule against a split infinitive. The Star Trek sentence contains the split infinitive "to boldly go." Such a construction simply can't happen in Latin, but is obviously easy to do in English, and it works. See William Harris on how we wound up with the Latin grammar albatross.