List of Common Latin Abbreviations and Their Meanings

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.

woman using latin abbreviations in academic writingwoman using latin abbreviations in academic writing

Latin Abbreviations in Academic Writing

Many Latin abbreviations are used in academic and scholarly writing, most commonly related to citations

Abbreviation

Stands for

Meaning(s)

cf.

confer

compare, bring together - used in endnotes or footnotes to direct readers to arguments that differ from what is presented 

e.g.

exempli gratia

for example

et al. 

et alii 

and others, and other people

ibid

ibidem

in the same place - used in endnotes or footnotes when referencing a previously cited source (same page numbers)

id

idem

the same person - less common alternative to ibid

i.e.

id est

that is to say, what that means is

viz.

videlicet

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.

Abbreviation

Stands for

Meaning(s)

et con

et conjunx

and husband, with husband - used to indicate that a wife and husband entered into an agreement or appeared together

et seq.

et sequentes

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

J.D.

Juris Doctor

doctor of law - degree conferred upon graduation from law school

L.S.

locus sigilli

in place of the seal - used on formal documents to indicate where a notary public should mark with a seal

N.B.

nota bene

pay attention, note well - used to direct attention to something of particular importance

re

res

in the matter of - used to refer to the primary matter of interest in a legal case

v. 

versus

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.

Abbreviation

Stands for

Meaning(s)

a.c.

ante cibum

before meals - used to indicate that a medication should be taken immediately prior to eating a meal

a.d.

auris dextra

the right ear

ad lib.

ad libitum 

at one’s pleasure - to take a medicine or use a treatment as often as one wants to do so

a.s.

auris sinistra

the left ear

a.u.

auris utraque

both ears

bib

bibe

to drink - to consume a medicine or treatment by drinking

b.i.d.

bis in die

twice daily - medicine or treatment that should be taken or administered two times each day

p.c.

post cibum

after meals - medication that should be taken immediately after consuming a meal

p.r.n.

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

q.i.d.

quater in die

four times per day - medicine or treatment that should be taken or administered four times each day

Rx

recipere

to take - used to refer to medication prescribed by a physician

stat

statim

immediately - immediate action should be taken

u.d.

ut. dict.

ut dictum

as directed - administer medicine or treatment as instructed

woman reading medication prescriptionwoman reading medication prescription

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. 

Abbreviation

Stands for

Meaning(s)

A.D.

anno Domini

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.

a.m.

ante meridiem

before midday - indicates the hours from 12 a.m. (midnight) to 11:59 a.m.

ca. or c. 

circa

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)

pro tem.

pro tempore

for the time being, temporary, provisional

p.a.

per annum

yearly, annual

p.m.

post meridiem

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. 

Abbreviation

Stands for

Meaning(s)

C.V.

curriculum vitae

course of life - summary of a person’s education, work history, and job qualifications; similar to a resume

etc. 


et cetera

and others, and the rest

lb.

libra

pound, measure of weight/mass

vs.

versus

opposed to - used to draw comparisons (one thing vs. another)

latin abbreviation c.v. in hiring requestlatin abbreviation c.v. in hiring request

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

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