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41 terms

Common Foreign Words and Phrases

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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)