All those foreign words and phrases that have seeped into our language are enough to make you carry around a dictionary. But if you don’t have one handy, here’s what means what, courtesy of Real Simple magazine.
First: Ad nauseum. This is Latin, and it means "to a sickening degree." Hence the word "nauseating." So when your boss says you’re explaining things "ad nauseum" – you should probably stop.
Next: Faux pas (foh-pah). That’s a social blunder. For example, if you were to wear a fur coat to a PETA convention, that would be a major faux pas.
Another foreign phrase that might trip you up:
Je Ne Sais Pas (jeh neh say pah). This is how the French say "I don’t know." The next time someone asks you something you’re not sure of, simply say "Je ne sais pas." Even though you can’t answer their question, you’ll still sound brilliant.
Next: Schlemiel, Schlimazel (shleh-MEEL, shlih-mah-zull). You probably remember these Yiddish terms from the TV show Laverne & Shirley.
At the beginning, the girls sang "Schlemiel, schlimazel, Hasenpfeffer Incorporated…" Basically, one is a fool, and the other is an unlucky person. The schlemiel is always messing things up, and the schlimazel is always at the wrong end of their foul-ups.
And one last foreign phrase you might hear:
Quid pro quo. This means "an equal exchange." So, in The Silence of the Lambs, when Hannibal Lector said "Quid pro quo, Clarice" - he meant that he wanted information from her in exchange for the information he gave her.