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Latin/Meaning of the word "Quo"

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Question
Hello,

I am wondering if you could shed some light on the latin word 'quo'

I see the word 'quo' used in a number of expressions, like quid pro quo, status quo, etc...

Then I found a random internet passage that states:
quo : (masc. sing. abl.) (the money) BY means of WHICH he lived.


Any further explanation would be appreciated. Thank you.

Answer
"Quo" has several uses in Latin.  You are referring to two of these.  Such forms ("qu*") derive from a root that functions as a relative pronoun/adjective, an interrogative pronoun/adjective, and an indefinite pronoun/adjective.

1) In the expression "quid pro quo", both the "quid" (nominative neuter singular) and the "quo" (ablative neuter singular) are functioning as indefinite pronouns ("something"):  "something for something."  The "quid" is in the nominative case because it is the subject of the phrase, and the "quo" is in the ablative case because the preposition "pro" ("for") takes that case as its object in Latin.

2) In the expression "status quo", the "quo" (ablative neuter singular) is functioning as a relative pronoun ("by means of/in which"):  "the state in which."  The "in" meaning is conveyed by the ablative case in Latin.  Because of the brevity of the phase the preposition "in," which would usually be found, is omitted "status (in) quo."

3) Another use of "quo" expresses the concept of place to which, whither.  It occurs in the famous phrase "Quo vadis?", meaning "Whither are you going?"

If one understand the basic usage of cases, and the "qu*" root, all of these uses make logical  sense, although if one does not know Latin, they may seem arbitrary.  

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Michael

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Ph.D. Cand. in Classical Languages. Conversant with all forms of the language: classical, mediaeval, and modern.

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I have 50 years of teaching at all levels of Latin from high school through university postgraduate. I read, write, and speak Latin daily.

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American Classical League, American Philological Association

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A.B., M.A., Ph.D. Cand. in Classics.

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