What are the roots of Latin in English? How common is it?

Latin is a fundamentally important historical language that has contributed to the development of many other languages around the world.

According to dictionary.com:

“Over 60 percent of all English words have Greek or Latin roots. In the vocabulary of the sciences and technology, the figure rises to over 90 percent. About 10 percent of the Latin vocabulary has found its way directly into English without an intermediary (usually French).”

In addition to French, Latin is one of the core influences on the English language.


Is Latin still relevant? What are the most useful latin expressions in English?

Generally speaking, there are so many expressions, idioms, sayings and good-old fashioned cliches in English. It’s hard to make sense of some of them, and hard to know which ones are practical. In terms of which Latin expressions are useful, the answer is it depends, both on the context and audience.

Though they tend to be a little stuffy sounding, or academic, in the context of writing, many latin expressions are useful because they are broadly known and get straight to the point. It is certain that if you are reading newspaper or magazine articles you are going to find a ton of latin expressions. Some expressions like “per capita” or “status quo” are very well entrenched in everyday English.


Let’s look at some examples!

  • ad hoc
  • bona fide
  • circa
  • de facto
  • per / per capita
  • quid pro quo
  • re
  • status quo
  • vice versa
  • versus / vs.
  • verbatim

_ _


Read and Guess the Meaning of the Expressions – Good Luck!


Ad Hoc

It was an ad hoc approach, mixing multiple spontaneous strategies.

Bona fide

She was a bona fide expert in linguistics, having completed an MBA in 2010 from an ivy league school, and working for a dictionary company as a writer since 2012.


The residential school system was established circa the 1880s, therefore it had deep roots in Canada before being dismantled in the late 20th century.

De Facto

Before Canada legalized marijuana, there were some de facto “legal” aka de-criminalized approaches in some jurisdictions, such as Vancouver.

Per / Per Capita

Per the rules in the guidelines, we are limiting indoor capacity and asking everyone to follow the province’s order. / Canada’s per capita vaccination rate is quite high.

In 2019, the gross domestic product per capita in Canada was around 46,399.71 U.S. dollars

Quid Pro Quo

Take a recent example. Donald Trump was accused of seeking a quid pro quo when dealing with Ukrainians. He wanted them to do him a favour and he promised in return he’d do a good turn for them.


I am not optimistic re the potential for the Leafs to go far in this year’s playoffs

Status Quo

The NDP are not content withe status quo and hope to upset the liberals or at least gain official opposition status.


I wrote the list down verbatim. I’m sure I didn’t miss anything he said.

Versus / vs.

Tonight it’s the Raptors vs. the Nicks in the 6ix. They play at ScotiaBank Arena.

Vice Versa

Ottawa was a capital of Canada before Kingston. No it’s nice versa, Kingston was actually the first capital of the country.


How many do you know? How well did you do with the new expressions?

Take up the answers with the teacher! 

Feel free to contact Mike at hello@canadatutor.ca


References and Resources

The examples above came from this page:

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