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Top 5 Latin Words Loved by Jews


hile the Roman Empire was no friend to the Jews, over the years we have developed a warmer relationship with Latin, their spoken language. Let’s face it: Jews love using Latin words to add some intellectual spice to their otherwise yeshivish shprach. Sure, it can get annoying when someone uses the word “qua” for no apparent reason, but a little errant “qua” usage can also be a great way to establish yourself as intellectual qua intellectual.


Sui Generis

This Latin phrase truly stands in a class by itself. It’s a marvelous superlative if “really chashuv” or “really unique” don’t seem emphatic enough. Want to pay someone a compliment while also implicitly insulting yourself as semi-obnoxious? This approach is truly sui generis.

Ex Nihilo

Tired of the term “yesh mei’ayin” and having friends? Try this term out. Ex nihilo, meaning something that emerges from nothing, can establish your nerd credentials ex nihilo.


Dear ArtScroll: On behalf of yeshivah students everywhere, thank you for bringing this fabulous Latin word to the masses. Sure, we could have just been content with the phrase kal v’chomer, but once you’re already deploying Talmudic terminology in conversation, why not add some Latin alienation to intimidate your friends? If you’re willing to risk people not understanding you with Gemara concepts, then, a fortiori, why not double down and throw some Latin into the mix as well?

Amicus Curiae

This BFF of Agudath Israel of America, meaning “friend of the court,” is the submission of a court briefing by someone who is not directly party to the legal matter. Amicus Curiae may not have been the coolest kid in high school, but he’s a loyal friend who has helped advocate for many important legal matters in the Jewish community. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you — you’re most likely pronouncing this friend’s name wrong.

(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 712)


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