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Latin Legal Phrases Defined In Plain English

By: Larry Pinck

Ab Initio — to commence a program of bodybuilding.

Amicus Curiae — affable grandson of Pierre and Marie Curie.

A Posteriori — relating to the buttocks.

Bona Fide — imperative, “Bone, Fido, fetch.”

Carpe Diem — (1) to complain from dawn to dusk; (2) fish of the day.

Casus Belli — interrogative, “Are you pregnant or just fat?”

Caveat Emptor — warned to take out the garbage.

Ceteris Paribus — to offer your seat to another (often the elderly or infirm).

Cum Laude — vocally enthusiastic orgasm.

Custodia Legis — unemployed lawyer engaged as a janitor.

Da Mihi Factum — statement of individual preference, e.g., “Me-hee for Yoo-hoo.”

De Minimis — relating to a small, unmarried woman.

Defalcation — to clear birds of prey from property.

De Facto — antonym, de think so.

Dictum Meum Pactum — a boastful statement of being well endowed, i.e., hung.

Ex Delicto — at one time, tasty.

Exeat — to delete by penciled “X’s.”

Ex Parte — after the cops arrive.

Ex Post — (1) discontinued breakfast cereal; (2) uncovered, naked.

Fama Nihil Est Celerius — where celery grows, no man starves.

Fiat Justitia — a well-considered Italian automobile.

Functus Officio — an off-smelling bureaucrat.

In Forma Pauperis — to rat out poor people.

In Loco Parentis — affirmative defense to child battery.

Ipso Facto — the matter is true because I say so.

Lingua Franca — colloquy between two men named Frank.

Mandamus — colloquial, statement of personal belief or opinion, e.g., “Man, ‘dey must be smokin’ hot.”

Motion in Limine — vigorous arm movement required to mix a vodka gimlet.

Mutatis Mutandis — excerpt, Ira Gershwin lyric, viz., “You say mutatis. I say mutandis…Let’s call the whole thing off.”

Non Compos Mentis — to doubt the need for a breath mint.

Nulla Bona — failure to achieve tumescence.

Obiter Dictum — idiomatic, lit., over there, dickhead.

Pacta Sunt Servunda — the maid will pack the bags.

Pro Tanto — exhortation, “Onward, my faithful Indian companion.”

Sui Generis — commonplace hog holler.

Per Quod — variation, Ahab’s vessel in Moby Dick.

Per Se — affectation, a French lady’s handbag.

Respondeat Superior — a haughty, pretentious or smartalecky reply.

Stare Decisis — embarrassingly lengthy review of menu before ordering.

Subpoena — of diminutive girth.

Vide Supra — ability to see through all elements, except lead.