Origin of e.g.
words often confused with e.g.
Sometimes these words and phrases are most familiar as abbreviations—the prime example being etc., which we use every day as a substitute for “and so forth” or “and so on.” Even though etc. is pronounced as if it were spelled out in full ( et cetera ), not everyone realizes that et cetera is in fact the two-word Latin phrase they’re using and that it literally does mean “and the rest.”
While etc. may win the prize for frequency of use, there are two other Latin abbreviations that also are very familiar: e.g. and i.e. Unlike etc., neither e.g. nor i.e. is pronounced as if it were spelled out, but rather just by the initials (the same way you would pronounce a.m. / p.m. or FBI ).
As useful abbreviations go, e.g. and i.e. are a great pair, but the main reason they’re even thought of as a pair is that they are sometimes confused, which is understandable given the absence of Latin in a typical modern education. So let’s have a quick Latin lesson and learn the simple facts about these two abbreviations.
E.g., used as a substitute for the words “for example” or “such as,” is short for the Latin exemplī grātiā, which literally means “for the sake of example.” I.e., used as a substitute for the words “that is,” “that is to say,” or “in other words,” is short for the Latin id est, which literally means “that is.” Now that we’ve got the meanings down, let’s look at some actual usage.
e.g. = “for example”
• If you’re worried about a house full of dog hair, remember there are many nonshedding breeds—e.g., silky terriers, Basenjis, and Lhasa apsos.
• I’ve got no food restrictions, but some things I’d sooner not eat, e.g., oysters.
• The most applauded moments were her soliloquies—e.g., at the end of Scene 1.
i.e. = “that is (to say)” or “in other words”
• Our son’s adorable pound puppy is my favorite breed —i.e., a mutt!
• There’s only one way I don’t like my potatoes prepared, i.e., boiled.
• The critics called the performance “scintillating” and “dazzling”—i.e., they loved it.
Hopefully, the preceding sentences have shown how useful (and very different in meaning) these abbreviations are, but that won’t help someone who wants to use one and can’t at the moment remember which one means what. If all else fails, think of e.g. as the beginning of egsample (not a real word, but one that sounds like example ). That technique may not make you a Latin scholar, but it might help put you on the right track to the right usage!
WORDS THAT MAY BE CONFUSED WITH e.g.e.g. , i.e. (see confusables note at the current entry)
Words nearby e.g.
Other definitions for e.g. (2 of 2)
How to use e.g. in a sentence
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The guitar is tuned to E, and an Eminor chord on a guitar just rings and rings forever.
"He brought Ray Charles to the mix as an influence on rock & roll," E Street Band guitarist Steven Van Zandt once raved.
G was a gamester, who had but ill-luck; H was a Hunter, who hunted a buck.
E was an Esquire, with pride on his brow; F was a Farmer, and followed the plough.
True; but as we are far enough now from that point, we must e'en make the best of the bad.
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"I supposed you 'adn't, as 'e ain't 'ere, with yer ma," replied the young person.Rosemary in Search of a Father|C. N. Williamson
British Dictionary definitions for e.g. (1 of 3)
British Dictionary definitions for e.g. (2 of 3)
eg. or eg
Word Origin for e.g.
British Dictionary definitions for e.g. (3 of 3)
Cultural definitions for e.g.
An abbreviation meaning “for example.” It is short for the Latin exempli gratia, “for the sake of example.” A list of examples may be preceded by e.g.: “She loved exotic fruit, e.g., mangoes, passion fruit, and papayas.” (Compare i.e.)