[Latin] Quid Pro Quo


Academic Latin Pronunciation: Quid Pro Quo

Legal Latin Pronunciation: Quid Pro Quo


The New College Latin and English Dictionary says….

* Quidam, quaedem, quiddam; pronoun a certain one, a certain person, or a certain thing

* Pro; adj “esse pro” (+ Ablative) to be as good as, be the equivalent of

* Quo; that, in order that (Ablative form of Quid)



* Pro eo quod: in view of the fact that




Quid Pro Quo: “Something specific for a comparable something else specific”


Quid Grammar: Indefinite Pronoun, is more definite that aliquis (“someone”, “somebody”, “some”),


Pro Grammar: Preposition, governing the ablative. (The ablative is the objective case for a nouns in Latin. The ablative comes in three flavors: the “from”-case (Ablative), “with”-case (Instrumental), or “where”-case (Locative) ).


Quo Grammar: “Quo” is the ablative case of the noun quid, used when the purpose contains a comparative or a comparative idea.


Combined, the phrase turns into Quid (“a specific something”) Pro (“for” + ablative) Quo (“a specific something” – ablative case, denoting equivalency), or as it’s easier to read: “something for something comparable”.


So that’s what the grammar means, but what’s the significance? It’s probably one of the more common uses of latin for business and law… but do they still match up to what the latin signifies?


From the Century Dictionary–noun

1. Something given for something else; a tit for tat; in law, an equivalent; a thing given or offered in exchange for or in consideration of another; the mutual consideration and performance of either party as toward the other in a contract.


Wordsmith WordsUsage

“As is now known, `back-channel’ negotiations achieved a quid pro quo. In return for Russian offensive missiles not being placed in Cuba, President Kennedy would remove Jupiter missiles from Turkey and promise not to topple Fidel Castro’s communist regime militarily.” ― Ronald H Carpenter, When the Right Words Counted, Naval History (Annapolis, Maryland), Oct 2001.


Black’s Law Dictionary, Deluxe Eighth Edition (p.1282)

[Latin “something for something”] An action or thing that is exchanged for another action r think of more or less eqal value; a substitute . See Reciprocity (2). Cf. Consideration. [Cases: Contracts *50. C.J.S. Contracts 87.]


So unlike the rest of my posts… Yes! The latin has actually managed to keep the same meaning. For me, the nuance lies in the fact that there are a very impressive number of types of ablatives, but that doesn’t matter for the one phrase. Perhaps the more impressive part of all of the research for this particular phrase is the fact that I’m now stuck in Black’s Law Dictionary in the “Q” section realizing how many phrases I could potentially do this type of Blog post for. It’s rather daunting…


Fortunately for y’all, I’ll just leave it to the ones I actually ran across in school and practice!



Vestra Magistra, Esq.


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