AD HOC (ad hok)
[Latin: for this purpose or specially] For a special purpose. An ad
hoc committee was appointed to handle the project.
NOIRE (bet nwar) [French: black
beast] Anything one avoids or dreads; a bugaboo. For a solitary person,
a party can be a bête noire.
CARTE BLANCHE (kart blawnsh) [French: a blank
page] Full discretionary power. With an unlimited budget, she had
carte blanche to plan the event.
(French: (day-zha voo) [French: already
seen] The sense that one has already seen or done something in the past
Hearing of coming budget cuts, the manager had a twinge of déjà vu.
[Latin for exempla gratia] For example. Do not use interchangeably
with i.e. (See i.e.) Donate nonperishable items; e.g.,
(foe-pah) [French: false step] An
offensive social act; an embarrassing slip. He committed a faux pas
by asking the overweight lady when she was expecting her baby.
(goash) [French: left, as in direction]
Clumsy; lacking in tact or ease of manner. A lesson in etiquette will
prevent one from being gauche at dinner parties.
POLLOI (hoy polloy) [Greek: the
many] The masses, the majority. The aristocrat paid for a box seat
because he did not want to sit with the hoi polloi.
[Latin for id est] That is. Do not use interchangeably with e.g.
(See e.g.) Only original English texts are studied (i.e.,
those by authors from English-speaking countries).
JUNTA (hoon tah) [Spanish: joined] A
military group or faction taking power after an overthrow. The junta
brought stability to the populace--but not freedom.
(kitsh) [German: artifacts of low quality] Art or literature of cheap,
tasteless, popular, sentimental quality. Tourists often buy kitsch
at souvenir stands.
LAISSEZ-FAIRE (lessay fare) [French: let do]
Policy of noninterference. Ending tariffs, the government adopted a
laissez faire policy.
CULPA (maya kulpa) [Latin: my
fault] An acknowledgment of one’s guilt or responsibility. The
politician’s bland apology was not the mea culpa the public had
SEQUITUR (non sekwitoor) [Latin:
it does not follow] A statement that does not logically follow from what
preceded it. The answer “blue” was a non sequitur to my
question, “What would you like to eat?”
OMBUDSMAN (ohm budz men) [(Swedish:
commissioner, agent] An official who looks into complaints by individuals
against authorities. An ombudsman resolved the senior citizen’s
PER [Latin: through, by means of]
Use as per se, percent, per person but not as per your conversation. Use
PRO QUO (kwid pro kwo) [Latin:
something for something] An action performed or a thing done in
exchange for another. I did a favor without exacting a quid pro quo.
RAISON D’ÊTRE (rehzon detra) [French: reason
to be] Reason for being. Profit seems to be the raison d’ être
QUO (stat us kwo) [Latin: state
in which] Existing state of affairs. Never one to accept the status
quo, he initiated major changes.
À TÊTE (tate a tate) [French:
head to head] A private dialogue between two people. The lawyers settled
the issue in a pre-trial tête à tête.
SUNT (oobi sunt) [Latin: where
are (the days of yesteryear)] Literary theme of yearning for a lost past.
Longfellow’s poem about idyllic life in Acadia reflects the ubi sunt
(veez a vee) [French: face to face] In
relation to; compared to. The position of the union vis-à- vis
the administration is contentious.
(woon der kind) [German: child prodigy] The wunderkind solved
calculus problems at age seven.
XANTHIPPE (zan tippy) [Greek: Socrates’
wife] A shrew. A clone of Xanthippe, she issued orders all day
& YANG (yin and yang) [Chinese:
dark and bright] Two opposite yet complementary forces that produce all
that comes to be in the universe. Yin is feminine and
yielding while yang is masculine and assertive.
ZEITGEIST (tsite giste) [German: time
spirit] The spirit of the times. In step with the Zeitgeist, the
company promoted respect for diversity.