Writing for Business

May 17 2010   9:41PM GMT

Per say what?

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

Which is correct?
A serious reportable event is not evidence of negligence ______.
a. per say
b. perse
c. per se

Answer: c.

Per se is a Latin phrase meaning by or in itself. For example, drinking a liter of vodka is not illegal per se but you cannot legally drive a car after doing so. And before you try this experiment at home, you should be aware that it could also lead to other ill-advised behaviors.

Online, something like 432,000 people seem to think the term is spelled per say. Other misspellings include perse, perce, persay and persai.

See our cheat sheet for more handy Latin phrases.

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