Per se

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The JC’s guide to pithy Latin adages


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An expression which is meant to mean “of itself” or “intrinsically” — it comes from the Latin per se, which means “through himself”, after all — but in ordinary usage tends to mean “I am lying”, “I have no idea what I am talking about”, or “for your own sake, just ignore anything I have just said”.

Real life example, from the lips of a credit officer: “You see, I don’t see a bank deposit as a credit exposure, per se”.

For those of you who don’t know the intricacies of credit risk mitigation, this is a bit like saying “I don’t see that a dog is a canine per se”.