Common Foreign Words and Phrases

41 terms by sjonesmchs 

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RSVP

stands for "Respondez s'il vous plait" or "please answer"; a reply to an invitation (French)

déjà vu

the illusion of having previously experienced something actually being encountered for the first time; literally, "already seen" (French)

du jour

1. as prepared on the particular day; of the kind being served today 2. fashionable; current; literally "of the day" (French)

faux pas

a slip or blunder in etiquette, manners, or conduct; an embarrassing social blunder or indiscretion; literally, "false step" (French)

bon voyage

an organized expression of goodwill at the start of a trip or new venture; literally, "have a pleasant trip" (French)

alma mater

the school from which one graduates; literally "nurturing mother" (Latin)

cum laude

used in diplomas to grant the lowest of three special honors for grades above the average; literally, "with honor" (Latin)

femme fatale

an irresistibly attractive woman, especially one who leads men into difficult, dangerous, or disastrous situations; siren; literally "fatal woman" (French)

esprit de corps

a feeling of pride, fellowship, and common loyalty shared by the members of a particular group; team spirit (French)

verbatim

in exactly the same words; word for word (Latin)

E pluribus unum

literally, "out of many, one"--motto of the U.S. (Latin)

prima donna

1. a distinguished female operatic singer; a leading female operatic star; a diva 2. a person that's considered vain, temperamental and/or conceited; literally, "first lady" (Italian)

avant-garde

cutting edge; new; experimental; innovative--especially in the arts (French)

status quo

the existing condition or state of affairs (Latin)

joie de vivre

a keen enjoyment of living (French)

carte blanche

unrestricted power to act at one's own discretion; complete freedom (French)

caveat emptor

the principle that the seller of a product cannot be held responsible for its quality unless it is guaranteed in a warranty; literally "let the buyer beware" (Latin)

alpha and omega

the first and last; beginning and end (Greek)

tabula rasa

a mind not yet affected by experiences, impressions, etc; anything existing undisturbed in its original pure state; literally "blank slate" (Latin)

hoi polloi

the common people; the masses (Greek)

ad nauseam

endlessly, to the point of nausea (Latin)

carpe diem

literally "seize the day"; enjoy the day, take the opportunity (Latin)

tempus fugit

literally "time flies" (Latin)

c'est la vie

such is life; literally, "that's life" (French)

bona fide

made or carried out in good faith; genuine; sincere (Latin)

savoir faire

ability to say and do the right thing at the right time; tact; poise; sophistocation (French)

non sequitur

an idea or statement that does not follow logically from evidence (Latin)

id est

that is to say; in other words (Latin)

enfant terrible

a famous or successful person who likes to shock people; a person whose unconventional behavior embarrasses others; literally "terrible child." (French)

terra firma

firm or solid ground (Latin)

vox populi

the voice of the people; popular opinion or sentiment (Latin)

ad hoc

for a specific purpose or situation; improvised (Latin)

cause célèbre

any incident that attracts great public attention (French)

magnum opus

the greatest work of an artist, writer, or composer; one's masterpiece (Latin)

persona non grata

an unacceptable or unwelcome person (Latin)

quid pro quo

something given in exchange for something else. Literally, "this for that." (Latin)

je ne sais quoi

an indescribable or inexpressible something; literally, "I know not what." (French)

modus operandi

a usual way of doing something (Latin)

nom de plume

pen name; pseudonym (French)

haute couture

high fashion; clothing created by leading designers (French)

mea culpa

an acknowledgment of error or guilt; literally, "my fault." (Latin)

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