(Key: L-Latin; F-French; Gr-Greek; Ge-German; S-Spanish; A-Arabic. R-Russian.)


Actus Purus (L), pure activity; a Scholastic definition of deity.

Agents provocateurs (F), agents engaged to provoke illegal action.

Agnosticism, the theory that the ultimate problems of philosophy and religion are insoluble.

Agnus Dei (L), Lamb of God, a term applied to Christ in the Mass.

A l'outrance (F), to the utmost.

Animism, the belief that spirits dwell in objects.

Anthropomorphism, the interpretation of God in the likeness of man.

Apollonian: having the calm, “classic” beauty of Apollo, as against the emotional

and “romantic” qualities associated with Dionysus.

Apres moi le deluge (F), after me the deluge (attributed to Louis XV)

A Posteriori (L), (reasoning) from observed facts to general conclusions

A Priori (L), (reasoning) from general propositions to particular conclusions.

A tergo (L), from behind.

Atomism, the interpretation of the world as composed of individual particles.

Attribute, in Spinoza, one of the infinite aspects of Substance or reality, like extension (matter) or thought.

Auto-da-fe (S), "act of faith"-- the name given to the ceremony of pronouncing and executing sentence under the Spanish Inquisition.


 Behaviorism, the restriction of psychology to the objective study of stimulus and response.

Behaviorist, one who restricts psychology to objective observation, ignoring introspection and consciousness.

Belles-lettres (F), works of literary art.

Burgermeister (Ge), city manager (s).


Calvinism, a form of Protestantism emphasizing the eternal predestination of every individual to damnation or to salvation.

Caput Nili (L), the source of the Nile.

Causality, the operation of cause and effect.

Cherchez la femme (F), look for the woman.

Cherchez les forts (F), look for the strong.

Chordates, a biological division including chiefly the vertebrates, but embracing also those animals that have a notochord -- an elastic rod dividing the dorsal from the ventral regions.

Concept, an idea; often used specifically of philosophical ideas.

Consciousness, awareness.

Corpus Prescriptionum (L), the collection of prescriptions.

Cosmology, the study of the origin and nature of the world.

Credo quia impossibile (L), I believe it because it is impossible.

Crura cerebra (L), "legs of the brain" -- twin structures supporting the cerebrum.

Cytology, the study of cells.


Das Kapital (Ge), Capital, the title of a book by Karl Marx.

Debacle (F), disaster.

De gustibus non disputandum (L), about tastes there can be no argument.

Denouement (F), conclusion -- originally referring to the unraveling of plot.

De rigueur (F), rigorously required by convention.

Determinism: the doctrine that all events are the inevitable result of antecedent conditions, and that the human being, in acts of apparent choice, is the mechanical expression of his heredity and his past environment.

De vivis nil nisi bonum (L), of the living, nothing but good.

Dialectic, logic; in Hegel, the development of one idea or condition into another by the process of thesis, antithesis and synthesis.

Dichotomy, division into two groups.

Dysgenic, anti-eugenic; making for bad heredity.


Ecrasez l’infame (F), smash the infamous thing.

Egalite (F), equality.

Elargissez Dieu (F), enlarge God.

Elite (F), the select.

Embryology, the study of embryos – i.e., organisms before their birth.

Empiricism, the acceptance of sense experience as the source and test of truth.

Exceinte (F), pregnant.

Endocrinology, the study of the ductless glands.

Endogamy, the restriction of mating within determined social groups.

En masse (F), in a mass; altogether.

Ennui (F), boredom.

Entelechy, the inner nature of anything, determining its development.

Epicurean, a believer in pleasure as the highest good.

Epiphenomenon, a useless accompaniment.

Epistemologs, addicts of epistemology.

Epistemology, the study of the origin, processes, and validity of knowledge.

Essence, the most important and significant aspect.

Esthetics, theory of beauty and art.

Ethics, the study of right and wrong in conduct.

Euclidean, according to Euclid – i.e., according to tri-dimensional geometry.

Exeunt (L), they go out.

Exogamy, the prohibition of marriage within the tribe.


Fable convenue (F), a fable agreed upon.

Fatalism, the doctrine that no choice or act of the individual can affect the fate to which he is destined.

Femme de trente ans (F), a woman of thirty years.

Finalism, the doctrine that events are caused by the purposes they serve.

Fingimus hypotheses (L), we make hypotheses (referring to Newton’s denial --"Non fingimus hypotheses").

First cause, the beginning of the entire series of causes; usually identified with God.

Formally, in a technical way; according to the form or structure.

Free will, the partial freedom of the agent, in acts of conscious choice, from the determining compulsion of heredity, environment and circumstance.

Fruhlingserwachen (Ge), the awakening of spring.


Genetic, referring to heredity.

Gestalt psychology, the theory of Kohler and others that reactions are not to separate stimuli, but to situations perceived as wholes.

Grand Seigneur (F), Great Lord.


Hedonism, the doctrine that pleasure is the actual, and also the proper, motive of every action.

Heuristic, a method of research.

Homo sapiens (L), man the knower -- the term for the human species in the Linnaean classification of the animal kingdom.

Homosexualism, homosexuality, sexual desire within the same sex.

Hors d’oeuvre (F), an appetizer.


Idealism, in metaphysics, the doctrine that ideas, or thought, are the fundamental reality; in ethics, the devotion to moral ideals.

Ideation, the process of thought.

Ideologists, persons devoted to impracticable ideas.

Impasse (F), an impassable point; a blind alley.

Impedimenta (L), baggage.

Individuation, the division of the world into separate persons or things.

In excelsis (L), in the highest.

Infusorian, one of the Infusoria -- a class of protozoa mostly found in stagnant water.

Instinct, the determination of conduct by inherited tendency. An instinct is an inherited tendency to general forms of response to given situations; the specific response is almost always a combination of inherited tendency with acquired modifications.

Instrumentalism, the doctrine that ideas are instruments of response and adaptation, and that their truth is to e judged in terms of their effectiveness.

Introibo (L), I shall enter -- the first word of the Mass.

Intuition, the direct perception of meaning or truth, without conscious reasoning.

Intuitionsim, in metaphysics, the doctrine that intuition, rather than reason, reveals the reality of things; in ethics, the doctrine that man has an innate sense of right and wrong.


Jacqueries (F), peasant uprisings.


Lamarckianism, the belief in the transmissibility of acquired characteristics.

Laudator temporis acti (L), a praiser of times past.

Le disordre organist (F), organized disorder.

Le droit de seigneur (F), the right of the feudal lord to take the virginity of every bride in his realm.

Legerdemain (F), sleight of hand.

Legerdepied (F), sleight of foot.

Le philosophe malgri lui (F), the philosopher in spite of himself.

Les savants ne sont pas curieux (F), scholars are not curious.

L'etat c’est lui (F), the state is he.

L'etat c’est moi (F), the state is I (attributed to Louis XIV).

Liebestod (Ge), death-in-love.

Lingam, the male symbol of reproduction in Hindu sex-worship.

Logic, the study of reasoning; in Hegel, the study of the origin and natural sequence of fundamental ideas.


Malgre lui (F), in spite of himself.

Mana, the Melanesian name for the world of spirit.

Manitou, the American Indian name for the "Great Spirit."

Materialism, the doctrine that matter is the only reality.

Materia medica (L), medicines.

Mechanism, the doctrine that all events and thoughts follow the laws of mechanics.

Metaphysics, the study of the ultimate and fundamental reality.

Milieu (F), environment.

Mir (R), the village council of the heads of families.

Mode, in Spinoza, a particular thing, form, event, or idea.

Moira (Gr), fate.

Monism, the doctrine that all things are forms of one ultimate reality.

Mores (L), customs.

Mysticism, the belief in realities or truths beyond the present reach of reason.


Nachschein (Ge), afterglow.

Nadir (A), the lowest possible point; in astronomy, that point of the celestial sphere which is directly below the point at which one stands.

Naturalism, the doctrine that all reality comes under the “laws of Nature.”

Natura naturans (L), nature creative.

Natura non facit saltum (L), nature makes no leaps.

Naturae encheiresis (L), a handbook of nature.

Nes (F), born.

Neurosis, a mental disturbance or disease.

Nirvana, in Hindu theory, a condition of happiness arising out of the absolute cessation of desire.

Noblesse oblige (F), nobility obliges (one to act nobly).

Nominalism, in logic, the doctrine that universal or class ideas (e. g., man) have no objective realities corresponding to them, but are merely names.

Noumenon, in Kant, the ultimate reality, or “Thing-in-Itself,” which can be conceived by thought, but cannot be perceived in experience.

Nouveau riche (F), newly rich.


Objective, independent of the perceiving individual; in Spinoza, as existing in thought.

Omne ovum ex ovo, omnis cellulae cellular omne vivum e vivo (L), every egg (comes) from an egg, every cell from a cell, every living thing from a living thing.

Ontology, a study of the ultimate nature of things.


Paleolithic, of the Old Stone Age.

Paleontological, pertaining to fossil remains.

Panem et circenses (L), bread and circuses.

Panta agan (Gr), all things in excess -- referring to the inscription on the Temple of Apollo at Delphi: Meden agan, nothing in excess.

Panta rei (Gr), all things flow.

Pantheism, the doctrine that God is in all things.

Parrhasia (Gr), free speech.

Parthenogenesis, the birth of organisms from unfertilized females.

Pax Romana (L), the peace imposed by Rome upon the Roman Empire.

Pecunia olet (L), money smells -- of its origin.

Perception, an interpreted sensation. E. g., a sound felt is a sensation; “the book has fallen” is a perception.

Petitio Principii, a begging of the question.

Phallic worship, worship of sex.

Phallus, the male organ.

Pharmacopoeia (L), a list or collection of drugs.

Phenomena, that which appears to the senses.

Philosophia ancilia theologian (L), philosophy the handmaid of theology.

Phylum, a primary division of the animal kingdom.

Plateau, in psychology, a period in which there is no progress in learning.

Pluralism, the doctrine that the world is not a unit in law and structure, but the scene of contrary forces and processes.

Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose (F), the more it changes, the more it is the same thing.

Polytheism, the worship of many gods.

Populus vult decipi; decipiatur (L), the people wish to be deceived; let them be deceived.

Positivism, the restriction of philosophy to problems open to scientific methods.

Post mortem (L), (an examination made) after death.

Pot pourri (F), a hotch-potch.

Pragmatism, the doctrine that truth is the practical efficacy of an idea.

Predestinationism, the doctrine that all men have, before their birth, been destined by God to salvation or damnation.

Primum est bibere (L), first one must drink.

Primum est vivere, deinde philosophari (L), first one must live, then one may philosophize.

Prolegomena; introductory studies.

Protozoa, lit., the first animals; the lowliest forms of life, all single-celled.

Psychophysical monism, the doctrine that all reality is both physical and psychical.

Psychophysical parallelism, the doctrine that mind and body are parallel in all their operation, but do not influence each other.


Quantum, the specific orbits or velocities to which electrons are limited in the theory of Planck and Bohr.


Raison d’etre (F), reason for being.

Rationalism, the acceptance of reason as the test of truth.

Rationalize, to pretend that one’s desires are caused by impartial reasoning.

Realism, in epistemology, the doctrine that the external world exists independently of perception; in logic, the doctrine that universal or class ideas (e. g., man) have objective realities corresponding to them.

Regina Scientiarum (L), Queen of the Sciences -- the medieval title philosophy.

Relativity, the doctrine that measurements and perceptions are true only in relation to a given observer at a given place and time.

Resurrexit (L), he has risen.

Roi faineant (F), a do-nothing king.

Romanticism, the exultation of feeling above intellect, or of hope above knowledge.


Scatophilia, love of offal.

Scholasticism, the philosophy of the medieval theologians; in general, the divorce of speculation from observation and practice.

Sic (L), so written in the original.

Sociology, the study of social institutions and processes.

Spiritualism, the doctrine that spirit is the fundamental reality,

Status quo (L), the state of things at present.

Steatopygy, an accumulation of fat on the buttocks.

Subjective, existing only in the perceiving mind; as existing in thought; in Spinoza, as the object of thought.

Substance, in Spinoza, the basic and eternal reality, the structure and law of the world.

Sub specie eternitatis (L), in the light of eternity.

Sub specie totius (L), in the light of the whole.

Supra (L), above.


Teleology, in theology, the doctrine that all things are designed by God; in biology, the theory or study of development as caused by the purposes which things serve.

Terra firma (L), firm earth.

Theist, a believer in a personal God.

Theology, the study of gods.

Tiers etat (F), the third estate – i.e., the middle classes.

Transcendental, beyond the realm and reach of the senses.

Tropism, an invariable response.

Tyche, the goddess of chance among the Greeks.


Utilitarianism, the doctrine that all actions are to be judged in terms of their utility in promoting the greatest happiness of the greatest number.


Vade mecum (L), a handbook.

Vide supra (L), see above.

Vitalism, the doctrine that life is the basic reality, of which everything else is a form or manifestation

Voluntarism, the doctrine that will is the basic factor, both in the universe and in human conduct.


Weltschmerz (Ge), world-sickness, weariness of life.

Yoni, the female symbol of reproduction in Hindu sex-worship.


Zeitgeist (Ge), the spirit of the age.

Zoo-erotism, sexual relationship between man and beast.