by Paul Niquette
Copyright ©1996 Resource Books All rights reserved.

etc. et cetera  And other unspecified things of the same class; and so forth. 

Expressions like "etc.," "and so forth," "and so on," etc. make me suspicious, doubtful, skeptical, etc.  Are there really any "others"? I wonder.

Sometimes I sit and stare at the enumeration, series, list, etc. trying to find just one more item, member, example, etc.

  • Biologists study living things: animals, plants, etc.
  • Self-propelled personal transportation includes bicycling, canoeing, climbing, crawling, hopping, ice-skating, jogging, jumping, kayaking, limping, moseying, paddling, roller-skating, rowing, running, sauntering, skiing, skipping, snowshoeing, strolling, stumbling, swaggering, swimming, walking, etc.
  • The author, journalist, preacher, speaker, etc. may have run out of energy, ideas, time, etc. or, more likely, is just plain indolent, lazy, slothful, unresourceful, etc., leaving the reader, subscriber, parishioner, listener, etc. to supply the "other unspecified things" for himself, herself, etc.

    Supposedly the "others" belong in the same class, group, set, category, etc., but exactly which one may not always be apparent, clear, discernible, evident, manifest, obvious, etc.

    • Scattered about the room were dog-eared magazines, unwashed laundry, half-eaten sandwiches, etc.
    • First year students are required to take English, Math, Science, History, etc.
    Several explanations, motivations, reasons, rationales, etc. come to mind for not using "etc." -- but one will suffice.

    A teacher I liked told me not to.

    101 Words
    Table of Contents
    Top of Article

    Epilog: i.e. vs e.g.

    In reviewing a contract specification in 2009, I came across a passage that called for a commercially off-the-shelf (COTS) product:  "The procurement shall use COTS, i.e. [Brand A]."  The clear intention was to save paper -- but with an e.g. not i.e. 

    That little mistake could have resulted in costly protests from Brand B and other suppliers.  The incident reminded me that I don't use i.e., preferring to spell out the Latin id est or better still, to use plain English ("that is" or "in particular").

    Nota bene, using a Latin abbr. to save paper is becoming as obsolete as paper itself, with electronic technologies taking over, exempli gratia e-books, laptops, personal digital assistants, websites, etc. (quod vide)


    A half dozen years after its publication on the Internet, the transportation example received its first recommendation by e-mail for a missing item, "climbing."  The name of the sender was Don Lauria, who is a renowned mountain climber, marathoner, college classmate, lifelong friend, cross-country bicyclist, etc.