I'm studying economics, and the words ceteris paribus are often used. I know it means that one thing changes, but that the other factors stay the same.

I was trying to figure out the translation myself, and I knew that ceteris means remaining, and that paribus must be something in the dative, but I couldn't figure out the whole sentence. So my question is: how to literally translate the saying ceteris paribus?

  • ceterus, -a, -um is an adjective meaning "other." In this case, it is used substantively and means "other things" or "all else."
  • par, -is is an adjective meaning "equal."

Both words are in the ablative plural, to form an ablative absolute, e.g. "Caesare mortuo" = "Caesar being dead." The ablative absolute is very flexible and thus can be translated in many different ways. Any of the following (as well as C.M. Weimer's suggestion) are equally valid.

  • With other things equal
  • All else being equal
  • When the other things are the same
  • etc.
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    @C.M.Weimer: To me, "All other things being equal" sounds better; it also seems to be more common. – psmears Jun 27 '17 at 10:57
  • @C.M.Weimer: It may be regional but, interestingly, the pattern for US and British English seem to be similar. I'm not sure the accuracy of Google ngrams is sufficient to be confident that that dip in the graph is a genuine decline or an artefact of how they collect the data (all of their graphs end up rather bumpy!). – psmears Jun 28 '17 at 13:59

Wikipedia not only explains the concepts, but translates the phrase several different ways.

The one I hear most often is "with all else being equal," which also was the top answer on ELL.

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This is often used in economics. It means all other things being equal. For example, a country in which more people are employed than another will have a higher GDP, ceteris paribus.

(GDP stands for Gross Domestic Product, a monetary measure of the market value of all final goods and services produced in a period (quarterly or yearly).)

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  • I know, but what is the literally translation of the saying? – L. Peters Jun 27 '17 at 14:26

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