Latin abbreviations show up in many kinds of texts written in English. Some, like terms used to reference morning (a.m.) or afternoon (p.m.) time frames, even show up in everyday conversation. Discover some of the most common Latin abbreviations, what words or phrases they stand for, and what they mean.
List of Common Latin Abbreviations and Their Meanings
Latin Abbreviations in Academic Writing
compare, bring together - used in endnotes or footnotes to direct readers to arguments that differ from what is presented
and others, and other people
in the same place - used in endnotes or footnotes when referencing a previously cited source (same page numbers)
the same person - less common alternative to ibid
that is to say, what that means is
namely, that is, to wit
Latin Abbreviations in Legal Terminology
Legal documents and proceedings, such as hearings and court cases, commonly use Latin abbreviations and other types of legal abbreviations.
and husband, with husband - used to indicate that a wife and husband entered into an agreement or appeared together
and the following - after stating the first item in a list or page in a series, this abbreviation may be used to indicate what follows
doctor of law - degree conferred upon graduation from law school
in place of the seal - used on formal documents to indicate where a notary public should mark with a seal
pay attention, note well - used to direct attention to something of particular importance
in the matter of - used to refer to the primary matter of interest in a legal case
against - used in court case citations (Brown v. Board of Education)
Latin Abbreviations in Medicine
A number of Latin abbreviations are commonly used in the field of medicine. Doctors use these abbreviations in their notes and instructions to staff members and pharmacists or when communicating with patients. Prescriptions and instructions for medical treatments or equipment are sometimes labeled with medical abbreviations.
before meals - used to indicate that a medication should be taken immediately prior to eating a meal
the right ear
at one’s pleasure - to take a medicine or use a treatment as often as one wants to do so
the left ear
to drink - to consume a medicine or treatment by drinking
bis in die
twice daily - medicine or treatment that should be taken or administered two times each day
after meals - medication that should be taken immediately after consuming a meal
pro re nata
as needed - medication or treatment should be administered as needed by the patient; medical professionals are sometimes hired to work p.r.n., meaning they will be scheduled to work as the hospital or other employer needs them to do so
quater in die
four times per day - medicine or treatment that should be taken or administered four times each day
to take - used to refer to medication prescribed by a physician
immediately - immediate action should be taken
as directed - administer medicine or treatment as instructed
Latin Abbreviations Referencing Time
The most commonly used abbreviations for time of day or years in reference to their position in history are Latin in origin.
in the year of our Lord - used with all years after the one in which Jesus is believed to have been born are labeled as A.D.
before midday - indicates the hours from 12 a.m. (midnight) to 11:59 a.m.
ca. or c.
around, approximately, not exact - primarily used to indicate a point in time; antiques from a certain area are said to be ca. that timeframe (ca. 1900s)
for the time being, temporary, provisional
after midday - indicates the hours from 12 p.m. (noon) to 11:59 p.m.
Latin Abbreviations Used in Everyday Language
Latin abbreviations aren’t only used in academia, law, medicine, or in relation to time. Some of these common abbreviations are frequently used in other types of writing and day-to-day communication.
course of life - summary of a person’s education, work history, and job qualifications; similar to a resume
and others, and the rest
pound, measure of weight/mass
opposed to - used to draw comparisons (one thing vs. another)
Expand Your Knowledge of Latin
Now that you are aware of some of the most common Latin abbreviations used in writing and other forms of communication, dig a little deeper and further expand your knowledge of Latin. Start by learning a list of Latin vocabulary words appropriate for those who are new to the language. Explore Latin words and phrases commonly used in English and some of the most beautiful Latin words and meanings. If you still want to learn more, consider building on your knowledge by studying Greek and Latin root words.