et alibi

Et cetera

[et set-er-uh, se-truh]

Et cetera (in English contexts pronounced ) is a Latin expression that means "and other things", or "and so forth". It is taken directly from the Latin expression which literally means "and the rest (of such things)" and is a transliteration of the Greek "και έτερα" (ke etera; and the others). Et means "and"; cetera (plural of ceterum/caeterum) means "the rest".

The one-word spelling "etcetera" is commonly used, and is accepted as correct by many dictionaries. It is also sometimes spelled et caetera or et cætera, and is often abbreviated to etc.. Archaic abbreviations, most commonly used in legislation, notations for mathematics or qualifications, include &/c., &c., and &ca..

The phrase et cetera is often used to represent the logical continuation of some sort of series of descriptions. For example, in the following expression...

We will need a lot of fruit: apples, bananas, oranges, etc.

... the 'etc.' stands for 'and other types of fruit'. It is an error to say or write "and etc." in which the word "and" would be redundant. This would translate as "and and the rest".

Typically, the abbreviated versions should always be followed by a full stop (period), and it is customary—even in British English where the serial comma is typically not used—that "etc." always be preceded by a comma. Thus:

A, B, C, etc.


A, B, C etc

It should be noted however that some publishing house styles (particularly in Britain) no longer require either the preceding comma or the following stop. In general, writers are advised to use the traditional style unless circumstances dictate otherwise.

In some situations, an ellipsis ("…") can be a substitute for ", et cetera." when it is used at the end of a sentence, as in:

We need a lot of fruit: apples, bananas, oranges…


We need a lot of fruit: apples, bananas, oranges… etc.

In lists of persons, et al. is used in place of etc. (an abbreviation of et alii, meaning "and others"). Less common is the use of et al. in lists of places (where it abbreviates et alibi, meaning "and elsewhere".)

A common misspelling of the abbreviation is "ect."; a common mispronunciation is "ex cetera," and another common misspelling is "et cetra."

Usage by monarchs

European monarchs, who sometimes have lengthy titles due to dynastic claims to territories accumulated over the centuries (and also as a matter of prestige), often shorten their full titles by concluding it with "et cetera"; even then the phrase would often be repeated in order to emphasize the monarchs' grandeur.

A prime example of this usage would be from Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, who traditionally began his proclamations with his shortened (but still tedious) title: "We, Nicholas II, By the Grace of God, Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias, King of Poland, Grand Duke of Finland, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera".

In the 1956 film The King and I, Yul Brynner, who played King Mongkut of Siam, famously used the phrase "et cetera, et cetera, et cetera" on numerous occasions, thus making it one of Hollywood's more memorable quotes. Whether this was inspired by the use of "et cetera" in European monarchs titles, however, is not quite clear.

See also

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