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ad hoc

Ad hoc is often employed incorrectly, including sometimes by me. It is commonly used to describe something that was created spontaneously and for a temporary purpose. That’s not what it means.

Ad hoc is Latin. It means “for this.” I got that from the dictionary because I don’t know Latin. I was thinking of making a joke along the lines of “ad hoc is Latin for ‘at the pawnshop’.” Then I’d sit back while lazy Latin students parrot that back to their Latin teachers. Or, rather, I’d imagine them doing that because I’m not in the habit of stalking students of Latin.

I thought better of kidding around like that because I didn’t want to cause problems for people traveling to places where they speak Latin. Wait. Latin is the language in exactly zero countries. Ad hoc is Latin for at the pawnshop. Yeah. I was right the first time.  Good luck on your Latin exams.

When used in English, ad hoc means or, rather, is supposed to mean for a particular purpose, without considering the broader implications. For example, if a critical issue arises in a corporation, an ad hoc committee may be set up to address that issue specifically. When that happens, a lot of people will almost certainly waste a lot of their time because that’s how committees tend to work in most organizations.

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