Latin Words in English

Words in Newspapers That English Has Adopted

Interested in increasing your vocabulary? Here are some English words from Latin directly or from Latin via French or Spanish. These words are thought to have come from newspaper articles from around 1923. One of the words on the list, mattoid, does not appear to be used any longer, so it is not included.

  1. acumen - ability to make good judgments
  2. agenda - list of things to be done
  3. altruism - selfless concern for others
  1. ambiguous - having a double meaning
  2. aplomb (Fr.) - self-confidence
  3. atrocity - cruel act
  4. avarice - greed
  5. bibulous - excessively fond of drinking alcohol
  6. celibate - abstaining from sex or marriage
  7. chivalrous (Fr.) - gallant
  8. condign - worthy, appropriate
  9. conglomerate - parts put together to form a unit while remaining separate identities
  10. crepuscular - pertaining to twilight
  11. cull - select from a variety of sources
  12. debilitate - weaken
  13. dirigible - capable of being guided
  14. facsimile - exact copy
  15. ferrous - made of iron
  16. flux - in the process of flowing
  17. futile - in vain
  18. garrulity - loquaciousness
  19. impecunious - poor
  20. incalculable - too great to be counted
  21. incommunicado (Sp.) - not in communication with others
  22. indefatigability - tireless
  23. insipid - lacking flavor
  24. introspection - looking within at one's mental or emotional state
  25. languid - slow, relaxed
  26. lucubration - meditation
  27. malfeasance (Fr.) - wrongdoing
  1. modicum - small amount
  2. moribund - near death
  3. mundane - wordly as opposed to spiritual
  4. naive - exhibiting lack of experience
  5. obeisance - respect
  6. obvious - clear (from the Latin for "in the way")
  7. parvenu - celebrity from obscure origins
  8. perpetuate - preserve
  9. perturb - make anxious
  10. plausible - probable
  1. precarious - uncertain
  2. puerile - childishly silly
  3. pulchritude - beauty
  4. pusillanimity - showing a lack of courage
  5. rapport - close relationship
  6. rapprochement (Fr.) - establishment of a harmonious relationship
  7. recalcitrant - obstinate
  8. renegade - a rebellious person
  9. reprisal - retaliation
  10. sacrosanct - very important or holy and not to be messed with
  11. simulacrum - image
  12. stipend - fixed allowance
  13. stultify - make appear foolish, cause to loose enthusiasm
  14. succumb - fail to resist
  15. taunt (Fr.) - provoke
  16. tentative - provisional
  17. turpitude - depravity
  18. ubiquity - found everywhere
Source: "Learn a Word Every Day" by Lillian B. Lawler. The Classical Journal, Vol. 18, No. 5. (Feb., 1923), pp. 299-301.

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    If you want to say that the prospects are bleak, you could say "it doesn't augur well." Augur is used as a verb in this English sentence, with no particular religious connotation. In ancient Rome, an augur was a religious figure who observed natural phenomena, like the presence and location to left or right of birds, to determine whether the prospects were good or bad for a proposed venture. Find out about more such words.
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Gill, N.S. "Latin Words in English." ThoughtCo, Jun. 8, 2017, thoughtco.com/latin-words-in-english-118438. Gill, N.S. (2017, June 8). Latin Words in English. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/latin-words-in-english-118438 Gill, N.S. "Latin Words in English." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/latin-words-in-english-118438 (accessed November 20, 2017).