Latin Lovers – Law List

Here is a list of some common Latin terms which pervade court papers and legal opinions, along with their common meanings:

Caveat Emptor: “Buyer beware” — meaning that the buyer of property is on notice to inspect it carefully and will be held to that standard.

Ad Valorem: “According to value” – typically used in tax law where the tax is computed based upon the value of the thing being taxed.

Duces Tecum: “Bring with you” – typically used with a subpoena requiring a witness to bring documents or things to a deposition or trial.

Mandamus: “We command” – typically an order entered by a higher court directed to a lower court or to a government official ordering them to do their duty.

Per Stirpes: “By the branch” – used in wills and trusts to divide property according to family branch instead of individually.

Per Capita: “By the head” – used in the opposite sense of per stirpes to divide property among individuals.


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