“Ipso facto, I’m your boss…”

What does it mean?653047

Ipso facto is a New Latin term meaning ‘by the nature of the deed’ or ‘by the fact itself.’ It refers to something, for example a penalty, that is a direct consequence brought about by an action or offence. It is not commonly used in everyday speech, and is commonly thought of as ‘jargon’ in law, technology and science.


Ipso facto literally means ‘by that very fact.’ Sources conflict as to its first recorded use in the English language, but sources most commonly point to the mid-16th century. But it has appeared in famous literary works such as Christopher Marlowe’s Dr Faustus.

Improper Use

Ipso facto is sometimes misused, especially in the ‘blogosphere,’ in the place of ‘in fact’; this is understandable, but erroneous.

Proper Use

The term should only be used to describe something that is a direct result of a fact or action. Examples of use in a sentence include:

            ‘Bob turned up to band practise without his guitar, and ipso facto was kicked out.’
‘She talked about herself all the time. Ipso facto, no one liked speaking with her.’

Despite the usage above which were written for the purpose of example only, please keep in mind that ipso facto is still relatively uncommon in informal use.

In Toto… I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore

What does it mean?643040

The meaning of in toto is ‘totally’ or ‘as a whole.’ It is synonymous with ‘altogether.’


In toto comes from the Latin term ‘totus,’ meaning total.  The term in toto translates literally to ‘in total’ or ‘in entirety.’ Sources conflict as to its first recorded use in English; some claim it was in the 1600s, whilst others state it came into use in the 18th century.

Improper Use

In toto is sometimes erroneously written as en toto. Although ‘en’ does mean ‘in,’ spelling it this way isn’t considered acceptable in modern use.

Proper Use

In toto is generally used in a legal context, and hasn’t yet really found its way into everyday conversation. It is occasionally used outside of the legal profession, mostly in academic works or newspaper articles. Examples of use in a sentence include:

                        ‘Bob’s case was dismissed in toto.’
                        ‘The flood destroyed everything in the basement in toto.’

i.e., ‘id est…’

What does it mean?Doubt

The term ‘id est’ may be unfamiliar to some when written this way. In fact, we see ‘id est’ written frequently as ‘i.e.’ It is usually used to indicate an explanation of something.


‘Id est’ comes from the Latin, meaning is ‘that is.’ The first use of it in spoken or written English is unknown.

Improper Use

‘I.e.’ is frequently confused with ‘e.g.’ This is incorrect; e.g. stands for ‘exempli gratia,’ which literally means ‘for example.’ ‘I.e.’ doesn’t provide an example, but a meaning. The two are frequently mixed up in written English as they are presumed by many to be synonymous.
Aside from this, it has become hard to determine what is proper and improper with ‘i.e.’ as there are a variety of ways in which it is used. In British English, for example, it is standard to place a comma afterwards, whereas American English goes without. It is rare to see the term used entirely incorrectly, as it’s such a common figure of the written and spoken word. It used to be deemed incorrect to put a colon after i.e. – ie: like this – but this is now widely accepted, as is italicising the term.

Proper Use

‘Id est’ is frequently, if not then always, abbreviated to ‘i.e.’ Examples of use in a sentence:

‘I use the browser IE, i.e. Internet Explorer.’ (I’ll get my coat…)
‘Bob’s pets, i.e. his cats, need a bath – they stink.’

Latin shouldn’t make you sic…

Note: There are many usages of ‘sic’ in the written word, some more obscure than others. This article focuses only on the most common usage.

What does it mean?719078

‘Sic’ literally means “thus.” It is used very frequently in articles, and most people come across it almost daily. It is most commonly used to indicate that a quotation from a person or source has been copied to the letter, ‘warts and all,’ complete with incorrect spelling or phrasing (if any.)


Sic first appeared in English use in the late 19th century. It comes from the Latin sic erat scriptum, which means ‘that it was written.’

Improper Use

Sic is such a common term in everyday reading and writing that you rarely see it misused or used improperly. However, it can be, and often is, mistaken for an acronym, such as ‘said in copy.’ Where this incorrect use originated from is unclear. It can also sometimes mistakenly be treated as an abbreviation, i.e. written as [sic.] No full stop should follow the word.

Proper Use

‘Sic’ should be placed in brackets (as in (sic) or [sic]) or italicised (sic). It is usually placed after a direct quote in an article, usually where the ‘quotee’ has used slang or misspelt or mispronounced a word. It can also be used after foreign languages. For example:

‘In his email to The Daily Blah, Bob said that “the book is definately [sic] red.”’
‘When telling the story of catching a would-be instrument thief, singer Ima Vokelist tells us: “I said, ‘you stay away from them [sic] guitars!’”’

Alter ego

842088What does it mean?

‘Alter ego’ means another side of oneself, or a second self. It can also be used to refer to a close or trusted friend.


The meaning of ‘alter ego’ in English is ‘alternative personality.’ This Latin term was first used in English in the early 16th century (circa 1530.)

Improper use

‘Alter ego’ is a popular figure of everyday speech, so common that some people may not even be aware that it is actually a Latin term. It is rarely used incorrectly, although the use of the term to mean ‘close friend’ is often forgotten.

Proper use

Alter ego should be used to describe another persona of somebody, usually one that the person in question has created for themselves. Examples of use of the term in a sentence include:

‘Beyonce’s alter ego is Sasha Fierce.’
‘His fiercer, more confident alter ego seemed to appear when he was performing on stage.’

Or when referring to a close friend:

‘She and her alter ego were inseparable.’
‘You never saw him without his alter ego Edgar.’

Ad nauseam…

What does it mean?


Ad nauseam is a fairly negative term. It is used to refer to something that has continued for a long time, to the point of making everybody feel slightly sick. It may or may not have been unpleasant in the beginning.


‘Ad nauseam’ is a Latin term which literally translates in English as ‘to sickness.’ It’s first recorded use was in 1647. A form of the phrase used previous to this was ‘usque ad nauseam’ which means ‘all the way to sickness.’ The ‘usque’ was later dropped.

Improper use

It is commonly misspelt ‘ad nauseum’ due to the way it sounds aloud. If there’s a linguist in your life who you really want to irritate, this is a very good way to do it.

Proper Use


It is used to express being really fed up with something that has gone on for a long time or been overdone. Examples of use in a sentence:

‘He’s told the same story over and over ad nauseam.’
‘They’ve argued about the same thing for days ad nauseam.’
‘She talked about her new car ad nauseam.’