Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Foreign Words and Phrases

ad hoc (L; ad HOK): for the particular end or purpose at hand

ad infinitum (L; ad in-fi-NITE-um): endless

ad nauseam (L; ad NAWZ-ee-um): to a sickening degree

apropos (F; ap-ruh-POH): being relevant

bête noire (F; BET NWAHR): a thing or person viewed with particular dislike

bon appétit (F; BOH nap-uh-teet): I wish you a good appetite

bona fide (L; BOH nuh-feyed): in good faith

carte blanche (F; kahrt BLANNSH): full discretionary power

cause célèbre (F; kawz suh-LEB-ruh): a notorious incident

c'est la vie (F; se lah VEE): that's life

chutzpah (Y; KHOOT-spuh): amazing nerve bordering on arrogance

coup de grâce (F; kooh duh GRAHS): the final blow

coup d'état (F; kooh duh tah): forceful overthrow of an existing government
by a small group

crème de la crème (F; KREM duh luh KREM): the best of the best

cum laude/magna cum laude/summa cum laude (L; KUHM loud-ay; MAHN-ya . . . ; SOO-ma . . . ): with praise or honor; with great praise or honor; with the highest
praise or honor

de facto (L; di FAK-toh): in fact; generally agreed to without a formal decision

déjà vu (F; DAY-zhah VOOH): the sensation that something happening has
happened before

de jure (L; dee JOOR-ee, day YOOR-ay): determined by law, as opposed to de

de rigueur (F; duh ree-GUR): necessary according to convention

détente (F; day-TAHNT): an easing or relaxation of strained relations

éminence grise (F; ay-meh-NAHNN-suh GREEZ): one who wields power behind
the scenes

enfant terrible (F; ahnn-FAHNN te-REE-bluh): one whose unconventional
behavior causes embarrassment

en masse (F; ahn MAHS): in a large body

ergo (L; ER-goh): therefore

esprit de corps (F; es-PREE duh KAWR): group spirit; feeling of

eureka (G; YOOR-EE-kuh): I have found it

ex post facto (L; eks pohst FAK-toh): an explanation or regulation concocted
after the event

fait accompli (F; fayt uh-kom-PLEE): an accomplished fact

faux pas (F; fowe PAH): a social blunder

hoi polloi (G; hoy puh-LOY): the masses

in loco parentis (L; in LOH-koh puh-REN-tis): in place of a parent

in memoriam (L; in muh-MAWR-ee-uhm): in memory of

in situ (L; in SEYE-tyooh): in the original arrangement

in toto (L; in TOH-toh): totally

je ne sais quoi (F; zhuh nuh say KWAH): I don't know what; the little
something that eludes description

joie de vivre (F; zhwah duh VEEV-ruh): joy of living, love of life

mea culpa (L; MAY-uh CUL-puh): my fault

modus operandi (L; MOH-duhs op-uh-RAN-dee): method of operation

noblesse oblige (F; noh-BLES uh-BLEEZH): the obligation of nobility to help
the less fortunate

non compos mentis (L; non KOM-puhs MEN-tis): out of control of the mind;

nouveau riche (F; nooh-voh REESH): a person newly rich; perhaps one who
spends money conspicuously

perestroika (R; PAIR-es TROY-kuh): restructuring

persona non grata (L; per-SOH-nah non GRAH-tah): unacceptable person

postmortem (L; pohst-MORE-tuhm): after death; autopsy; analysis after

prima donna (I; pree-muh DAH-nuh): a principal female opera singer;
temperamental person

pro tempore (L; proh TEM-puh-ree): for the time being

que sera sera (S; keh sair-ah sair-AH): what will be, will be

quid pro quo (L; kwid proh KWOH): something given or received for
something else

raison d'être (F; RAY-zohnn DET-ruh): reason for being

savoir faire (F; sav-wahr-FAIR): dexterity in social and practical affairs

schlemiel (Y; shleh-MEEL): an unlucky bungling person

semper fidelis (L; SEM-puhr fee-DAY-lis): always faithful

status quo (L; STAY-tus QWOH): existing order of things

terra firma (L; TER-uh FUR-muh): solid ground

tour de force (F; TOOR duh FAWRS): feat accomplished through great skill

verbatim (L; ver-BAY-tuhm): word for word

vis-à-vis (F; vee-ZUH-VEE): face to face with; compared with

L = Latin F = French Y = Yiddish R = Russian G = Greek I = Italian S = Spanish

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