Foreign Words and Phrases


Foreign Words and Phrases

Foreign Words and Phrases

Foreign Words and Phrases

Foreign Words and Phrases

English is an omnivorous language as it borrows words and phrases from other languages and naturalizes them as its own. It has already borrowed many Latin, Greek, French and many European and non-European words and phrases that have passed into everyday speech and writing. Here a list of some foreign words and phrases is given with illustration. However, the learners are suggested to use them when they understand their usage fully and when they face no suitable English equivalent at hand. It should also be borne in mind that when used, such words and phrases should be written in italics.

(Foreign Words and Phrases)

Ab initio (from the very beginning):  They requested me to take up the story ab initio.

Ab extra (from outside): Ab extra Ram seems to be a gentleman.

Ad hoc (arrangement for some special purpose): An ad hoc committee has been formed to investigate the case.

Ad interim (in the meantime): I went away for some days, ad interim Ram came and made the situation worse.

Ad infinitum (without limit): He treats the public as if his power is ad infinitum.

Ad nauseam (to a disgusting extent): He elaborated the issue of unemployment ad nauseam.

Ad valorem (according to the value of): An ad valorem duty of six per cent was to be paid on all goods during the war.

Agent provocateur (a spy who works secretly and creates trouble): An agent provocateur was employed to incite the public against the terrorists during the battle.

Alma mater (the institution where one has been educated): I am proud of my alma mater, Guwahati University.

Alumni (ex-students): Many alumni were invited, but only a few attended the seminar.

Aide de camp (personal attendant of a high military officer): The martial general marched forward followed by his aide de camp.

Note: ‘camp’ is pronounced as ‘cong’.

Aide memoire (a notebook in which things are noted): I like to keep an aide memoire with me while I am on a journey.

Alter ego (first friend): Mr Shahin, the economist is my alter ego.

Ante meridiem (a. m/between midnight and noon): I always get up at four ante meridiem.

Ano Domini (A.D./in the year of our Lord, Christ): World War II began in 1939 Ano Domini.

Annus mirabilis (a year of wonder): The year 1950 is annus mirabilis in the history of independent India.

Apologia (apologetic writing): In Assamese literature, no apologia is found.

Au revoir (goodbye): Au revoir, my friends.

Aqua (water): The other name of aqua is life.

(Foreign Words and Phrases)

Bona fide (regular): Ramen is the only bona fide student of the academy.

Bona fides (good faith/honesty): The teacher is highly praised for his bona fides.

Billet d’ amour (a love letter): In all my life I have written not a single billet d’ amour.

Bete noire (object of dislike): Mathematics was my bete noire during my student life.

Beau ideal (finest specimen): Mahatma Gandhi is the beau ideal of non-violence.

Bon voyage (happy journey to you): I wish you bon voyage.

Bizarre (fantastic, grotesque): There are some noted elements of bizarre in the novels of  Sir Walter Scott.

Bourgeoisie (the middle class): The bourgeoisie is the sole subject of exploitation in a democracy.

Bonbon (sweetmeat): My child is very fond of bon-bon.

Boulevard (a street shaded with trees): I like to have a walk in the boulevard.

Beau monde (fashionable society): She is not suited to a beau monde.

Canard (a rumour/a false statement): Who is there to believe a canard?

(Foreign Words and Phrases)

Carte blanche (full authority): Kamala was given carte blanche to deal with the extremists.

Cadre (a list of officers): He found his name enlisted in the cadre.

Cortege (a train of attendants): The General arrived there followed by his cortege.

Cafe (a restaurant): We drank well in the cafe.

Chauffeur (a motor car driver): I am in need of a chauffeur.

Coup d’ etat (a sudden overthrow of an established government or authority): Gaddafi took the charge of governing labia through a coupd’ etat.

Note: “coup d’ etat” is pronounced as “co d’ eta”.

Cliche (hackneyed/much used): Kakati used many cliche policies to win over the terrorists.

Charged d’ affaires (ambassador): I had a liking for the job of a charge d’ affaires.

(Foreign Words and Phrases)

De facto (in fact though not in law): As long as Saddam Hussain lived he was the de facto king of Iraq.

De jure (in law though not in fact): Sanjeeta is the de jure leader of the party.

De novo (afresh): We urged him to tell the story de novo.

Dei gratia (by the grace of God): I am well dei gratia.

Debacle (complete defeat): Germany and Japan met a debacle in world war II.

Debut (first appearance on the stage): She drew the attention of the mob during her debut.

De profundis (a cry from the depth of sorrow): “In Memorium” is the de profundis of Alfred Tennyson.

Divide at impera (a policy of divide and rule): The British had control over India by divide at impera.

Dramatis personae (characters in a novel or drama): Macbeth is a dramatis personae in the tragedy of the same title by Shakespeare.

Denouement (end): The denouement in a Shakespearean comedy generally happens in the fourth  Act.

(Foreign Words and Phrases)

En block (in a body): The members of the committee went to the principal en block to protest the act of stealing.

En masse (in a body / together): We met the minister en masse.

En route (on the way): They got off the train en route to  Delhi.

Emigre (an imigrant–one who goes and lives in a new country):  Emigre are many in Assam from Nepal.

Ex officio (in virtue of one’s office): An ex officio member of the newly formed Trade Committee came here to meet people.

Ex parte (one-sided): We protested against the ex parte judgement.

El dorado (a country full of gold and riches): India was regarded as an el dorado in the Middle Ages.

Exempli gratia (e.g. for example): In the room, there are many things exempli gratia – pen, pencil, books.

Exeunt (leave the stage more than one person at a time): All the dancers exeunt while the noise arose.

Exit (leave the stage): Exit the thief with the book.

Elite (gentry): The elite were given warm welcome.

Esprit de corps (the spirit of belonging to the same group or party): The new members of the party are marching ahead with esprit de corps.

En tente (understanding): We must have en tente among ourselves to strengthen the party.

Errata (a list of errors): Almost all the books published by the council needs an errata.

(Foreign Words and Phrases)

Facade (the front part of a building): We danced in the facade all night.

Fait accompli (something already accomplished): The partition of India was a fait accompli before Mahatma Gandhi could do something.

Fiance (one’s betrothed, especially male): Shakti Kapoor is the fiance of Susmita Sen.

Fiancee (one’s betrothed especially female): Sagarika is the fiancee of my friend Saroj Kumar.

Faus pas (mistake): The single faus pas by the minister may cause great harm to the nation.

Facsimile (an exact copy): We should keep a facsimile of our applications.

(Foreign Words and Phrases)

Genre (Kind): the short story is a recent genre of literature.

Gendarmes (armed police): A dozen of gendarmes were sent to face the terrorists.

Honoris causa (for the sake of honour): Many prizes and awards were offered to Dr Satyajit Roy honoris causa.

Hauteur (haughtiness of manner): We dislike Mr Das for his hauteur.

In memoriam (in memory of ): The monument of  Delhi was built in memoriam the Sepoy Mutiny.

In toto (completely): I don’t agree with you in toto.

Ipso facto (by that very fact): The assistant teacher behaves like the principal ipso facto that the principal is in leave.

Inter se (between ourselves): We should discuss the matter inter se.

Inter alia (among other things): We bought some dolls inter alia.

Infra dig (below one’s dignity): The job of a clerk is infra dig for Raja Rao.

In camera (privately): I did it in camera.

Impasse (a deadlock): We must try our best to break the impasse between India and China.

In extenso (at full length): He tried to relate the story in extenso, but failed badly.

Il penseroso (sad person): Kabin Phukan is considered an il perseroso because of his melancholic nature.

Idem or ibid (in the same book or place): I derive much knowledge from the Ramayana and also much inspiration from idem (ibid).

(Foreign Words and Phrases)

Id est (i.e. – that is to say): Kabita is crazy, id est a mad girl.

Joi de vivre (healthy enjoyment of life): Ramananda had a joi de vivre as long as he was alive.

Jus civil (civil law): Matters of jus civil are often delayed.

Lingua franca (common language): Assamese is the lingua franca of Assam.

Laissez faire (minimum intervention of the government in individual affairs): A policy of laissez faire is unwholesome in a democracy.

Locus standi (legal right): We have locus standi in the internal matters of the college.

Literatur (a literary man): Lakhminath Bezbaruah is a noted litetatur of Assam.

Literatim (word by word): It is not an easy task to translate a poetry literatim.

Malafide (something done in bad faith): I don’t believe Ram because be has acted malafide on several occasions.

Melee (mixed fight): Janaki was badly injured in the melee.

Modus operandi (the way of doing things): Bomb bursting is the modus operandi of the ULFA.

Mutatis mutandis (with necessary changes): They took the same creed of the law mutatis mutandis.

Magnum opas (a great work): The Great wall of China is a magnum opas of the Chinese.

Mademoiselle (an unmarried woman): Sabita is a mademoiselle of twenty.

Monsieur (Mr. or Shriman): Monsieur Bani Kanta Kakati was an eminent critic of his time.

Materia medica (medicine collectively): The materia medica of ancient India was vast.

Matinee (a performance by day): We enjoyed the matinee show of the cinema.

Mon cher (my dear): Mrs Merina who is my mon cher, has left me forever.

(Foreign Words and Phrases)

Nota bene (N. B. – Note well): Nota bene that the students should practise only five questions.

Nom De Plume (a pen name/false name used by a writer): “Alpha of the plough” was the nom de plume of A. G. Gardiner.

Non-pariel (matchless): Empress  Meherun Nessa was regarded as non-pariel in beauty.

Obiter dictum (something said by the way): The obiter dictum of Lord Buddha is full of wisdom.

Par excellence (excellent above all): As a playwright, Shakespeare was par excellence.

Parole (the words of honour, especially of a prisoner): Kakati was released on parole.

Post mortem (medical examination after death): The post mortem report of the dead body has not yet found.

Prima facie (on the face of ): No prima facie evidence has been detected out till now.

Per capita (per head): Rupees 100 has to be paid per capita.

Pari passu (equally): They are good at English pari passu.

Per annum (yearly): Nabin’s income is 40 lakhs per annum.

Per mensem (monthly): What is Rabin’s income per mensem?

Per deim (daily): Now-a-days a carpenter earns Rs. 400 per deim.

Post merediem (P.M. / after mid-day): They will come  at 2 post merediem.

Pro-forma (for the sake of formality): The ex-post master was invited only pro forma.

Precis (summary): Precis writing needs good skill.

Proletarian (the lowest class of society): Karl Marx was an advocate of the proletarian.

Proximo (of the next month): He will arrive on 11th proximo.

(Foreign Words and Phrases)

Quasi (half): Karim was given a quasi salary because he was appointed for a time being. 

Quod erat demonstrandum (Q.E.D. – which was to be proved has been proved): At the end of the solution of some geometrical problem we generally write quod erat demonstrandum.

Questionnaire (a series of questions): We were examined with a questionnaire.

Resume (summary): He gave a resume of his tour to Paris.

Rapprochment (the establishment of friendly relation once again): We tried to make a rapprochment between the two leaders.

Reichstag (parliament of Germany): During World War II, Hitler was the chief of the reichstag.

Salon (a large reception room): The invitees were welcomed in the salon.

Sin die (for an indefinite period): The meeting was postponed sin die

Sub-judice (under the consideration of a law court): The case of the violent acts done on the last April is now sub- judice.

Summum bonum (highest good): Honesty is the summum bonum of life.

Status quo (the existing position): During the crisis of violence the party tried to keep up its status quo in vain.

Sang froid: (coolness in danger): Mahatma Gandhi could show sang froid during the Second World War.

Suppressio veri (concealment of truth): I hate the idea of supressio veri.

(Foreign Words and Phrases)

Tempo (speed): The tempo of the modern world is in its climax.

Terra firma (dry soil): While drowning in the river, she struggled hard to reach terra firma.

Tour de force (a feat of strength): Muammar Gaddafi came into power through a tour de force.

Tete-a-tete (a private conversation usually between two): We had a tete a tete for full three hours.

Ultra vires (beyond one’s power): I can not help the party because it is my ultra vires.

Ultimo (of the last month): He went there on 14th  ultimo.

Ultima thule (the utmost limit): The ultima thule of my life is to become a pacifist.

Via (by the way of): I will travel to the U.K. via Italy.

Via media (middle course): We should take via media in our life style.

Vice Versa (in the reverse order): We love our children and vice versa.

Vox populi vox dei (the voice of the people is the voice of God): In the modern age vox populi vox dei.

Versus (against): The essay written by him on indoor games versus outdoor games won the first prize.

volte face ( complete change of views): We wonder at Ranin’s sudden volteface.

Vide licet (see/refer to): He quoted those lines from Shakespeare’s Macbeth vide licet Act V. Scene iii.

Vide (namely): We had bought many fruits vide apples grapes, mangoes, guavas. 0 0 0

(Foreign Words and Phrases)


N.B.  The article ‘Foreign Words and Phrases’ originally belongs to the book ‘School English Grammar Part- II‘ by Menonim Menonimus. Foreign Words and Phrases

Books of Composition by M. Menonimus:

  1. Advertisement Writing
  2. Amplification Writing
  3. Note Making
  4. Paragraph Writing
  5. Notice Writing
  6. Passage Comprehension
  7. The Art of Poster Writing
  8. The Art of Letter Writing
  9. Report Writing
  10. Story Writing
  11. Substance Writing
  12. School Essays Part-I
  13. School Essays Part-II
  14. School English Grammar Part-I
  15. School English Grammar Part-II..

Books on Linguistics by M. Menonimus:

  1. A Brief History of the English Language
  2. Essays on Linguistics
  3. My Imageries
  4. Felicitous Expression: Some Examples
  5. Learners’ English Dictionary

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I am Menonim Menonimus, a Philosopher & Writer.


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