Foreign Phrases? Say what??

My mind came up completely blank when I read this week’s topic. I tend to think and speak in English (I was told while in college/university that “English is my “forte” Hey! There’s a foreign word! Phrase?) so I had to search the web for foreign phrases that I might be familiar with. Other than a few single word ones I saw, which I opted not to mention, I came up with:
ad infinitum
(ad in-fun-eye’tum) [Lat.]: to infinity. “The lecture seemed to drone on ad infinitum.”

ad nauseam
(ad noz’ee-um) [Lat.]: to a sickening degree. “The politician uttered one platitude after another ad nauseam.”

(uh-fish’ya-nah’doh) [Span.]: an ardent devotee. “I was surprised at what a baseball aficionado she had become.”

beau geste
(boh zhest’) [Fr.]: a fine or noble gesture, often futile. “My fellow writers supported me by writing letters of protest to the publisher, but their beau geste could not prevent the inevitable.”

bona fide
(boh’na fide) [Lat.]: in good faith; genuine. “For all her reticence and modesty, it was clear that she was a bona fide expert in her field.”

bon vivant
(bon vee-vahnt’) [Fr.]: a person who lives luxuriously and enjoys good food and drink. “It’s true he’s quite the bon vivant, but when he gets down to business he conducts himself like a Spartan.”

carpe diem
(kar’pay dee’um) [Lat.]: seize the day. “So what if you have an 8:00 a.m. meeting tomorrow and various appointments? Carpe diem!”
carte blanche
(kart blonsh’) [Fr.]: unrestricted power to act on one’s own. “I may have carte blanche around the office, but at home I’m a slave to my family’s demands.”

cause célèbre
(koz suh-leb’ruh) [Fr.]: a widely known controversial case or issue. “The Sacco and Vanzetti trial became an international cause célèbre during the 1920s.”
caveat emptor
(kav’ee-ot emp’tor) [Lat.]: let the buyer beware. “Before you leap at that real estate deal, caveat emptor!”

coup de grâce
(koo de grahss’) [Fr.]: finishing blow. “After an already wildly successful day, the coup de grâce came when she won best all-around athlete.”

faux pas
(foh pah’) [Fr.]: a social blunder. “Suddenly, she realized she had unwittingly committed yet another faux pas.”

mea culpa
(may’uh kul’puh) [Lat.]: I am to blame. “His mea culpa was so offhand that I hardly think he meant it.”

nom de plume
(nom duh ploom’) [Fr.]: pen name. “Deciding it was time to sit down and begin a novel, the would-be writer spent the first several hours deciding upon a suitable nom de plume.”

persona non grata
(per-soh’nuh non grah’tuh) [Lat.]: unacceptable or unwelcome person. “Once I was cut out of the will, I became persona non grata among my relatives.”

pro bono
(pro boh’noh) [Lat.]: done or donated without charge; free. “The lawyer’s pro bono work gave him a sense of value that his work on behalf of the corporation could not.”
quid pro quo
(kwid’ pro kwoh’) [Lat.]: something for something; an equal exchange. “She vowed that when she had the means, she would return his favors quid pro quo.”

(sav’wahr fair’) [Fr.]: the ability to say and do the correct thing. “She presided over the gathering with impressive savoir-faire.”

I can’t say as I use any of these, but they were familiar, so I made my Tuesday article out of them. 🙂 Happy Tuesday, All! 


About pjharjo

Janette is an author of Romantic Paranormal Fantasy. CONNECTIONS, her first series, is Indie published. You can follow her or sign up for her newsletter, and learn more about her new releases as they become available, at She lives in the beautiful and prolific Pacific NW of the USA.
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15 Responses to Foreign Phrases? Say what??

  1. Jeanne Theunissen says:

    Your mind came up blank? C’est la vie..Now, I don’t know if this would count as a “foreign” phrase or not, but “back of Bourke” is Aussie slang for out in the middle of nowhere. Bourke is a small rural town way out in the bush here in Victoria, so I don’t know if it’s just a local thing or not.


  2. Maybe we should all start using more of those, Janette! You picked some good ones.


  3. Iris B says:

    LOL, Janette … reading this post reminded me of the few Latin lessons I had at school … pro boo and bona fide are terms I use a lot at work, I’d’ve said culpe mea a few times and I’d say faux pas is almost part of the English language. As of the others … some I’ve heard of, some I haven’t 🙂


  4. jeff7salter says:

    Terrific compilation, Janette. I use some of these often, myself.


  5. Laurie Ryan says:

    My personal favorite is Que Sera, Sera. 🙂


  6. pjharjo says:

    Bwa-ha-ha-ha! That was funny, Jeanne57!


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