Thoughts of a linguist...

English legal language has borrowed heavily from other languages, including Latin, French, and even Greek. Here are 20 English legal terms that come from other languages:

 

Ad hoc - from Latin, meaning "for this purpose"

 

Amicus curiae - from Latin, meaning "friend of the court"

 

Bona fide - from Latin, meaning "in good faith"

 

De facto - from Latin, meaning "in fact"

 

De jure - from Latin, meaning "by law"

 

En banc - from French, meaning "full bench"

 

Ex parte - from Latin, meaning "on behalf of one party only"

 

In camera - from Latin, meaning "in a chamber" or "in private"

 

In loco parentis - from Latin, meaning "in place of a parent"

 

Ipso facto - from Latin, meaning "by the fact itself"

 

Locus standi - from Latin, meaning "standing in court"

 

Nolo contendere - from Latin, meaning "I do not wish to contest it"

 

Per se - from Latin, meaning "by itself" or "intrinsically"

 

Prima facie - from Latin, meaning "at first sight"

 

Pro bono - from Latin, meaning "for the public good"

 

Quorum - from Latin, meaning "of whom"

 

Ratio decidendi - from Latin, meaning "the reason for the decision"

 

Res judicata - from Latin, meaning "a thing adjudicated"

 

Ultra vires - from Latin, meaning "beyond the powers"

 

Vis-a-vis - from French, meaning "face-to-face" or "in relation to"

 

These terms are just a small sampling of the many foreign-language legal terms that have become part of the English legal language. They reflect the global nature of law and the continued importance of understanding legal concepts and terminology from a variety of cultures and languages.

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