The Meaning of Ibid.: What It Is and How To Use It

Have you ever been curious about the definition of ibid? This guide will provide you with all of the knowledge you need on the abbreviation ibid., including its definition, usage, example sentences, and more!

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What does the Latin abbreviation ibid. mean?

According to Merriam-Webster Unabridged English Dictionary, the term ibid. is short for the Latin word ibidem, which means “in the same place.” This term is often used in citations and footnotes to indicate that some reference that is being made is from the same source as the reference that has just been made. For example, if a page from a dissertation includes five different references, and the second and third references are from the exact same source, one would properly cite the second reference and could then use “ibid” or the third. However, if the second and fourth references were from the same source, one could no longer use ibid, as using ibid for the fourth reference implies that the source is the same as the third reference. 

This may seem confusing, but with a little practice you will be citing your own sources in no time! Harvard even provides a complete citations guide for popper formatting. Many different methods of citation, from MLA to APA to Chicago, all have their different methods of citation. Referencing is tricky at first, but knowing how to properly format your footnotes and endnotes is incredibly useful. These annotations and guidelines for referencing are often included in a style guide from different styles of citation. Something like a legal citation might even have a specific style guide of its own. Using ibid is useful when referencing the previous citation or previous reference. If the preceding endnote is on the same page, this makes it easy for the reader to see the other citation, but if it is on a different page this becomes more complicated.

According to Etymoline, the origin of the Latin term ibid. Comes from the latin term ibidem meaning “in the same place” and has been used since the 1660s to avoid the repetition of references in a work that needs citations. This comes from the Latin ibi meaning “there,” which is the pronominal adverb form of place, with the demonstrative suffix dem, which is also Latin. Ibid is properly used with a period afterwards, but can also be used without it. 

What are other Latin abbreviations that one might see in a reading list?

There are many other Latin phrases and abbreviations that one might see in a reading list, reference or footnote. These can be confusing at first, but Bodleian lists many of these and their meanings are explained below. Before you know it, you will be able to easily comprehend these Latin phrases and abbreviations!

  • Et al. – This term stands for the Latin phrase “et alii” which means “and others.” This phrase is used when there are numerous different authors for some book or article. Therefore, during a citation one will list the name of the first author followed by the phrase “et al.” so that they do not have to list all of the authors every time. 
  • Op. cit. – This term is an abbreviation for the Latin phrase “opere citato” which translates to “in the work cited.” People will usually use this abbreviation in a footnote combined with the author’s name and a date. This signals that the person is referring the reader to some source that they have already cited in full somewhere in the footnotes or in the bibliography. This is slightly different from ibid. In that it is not the source that has just been mentioned and therefore it needs the author’s name and date to help the reader identify which source they are referring to
  • Loc. cit. – This term refers to the Latin phrase “loco citato” which means “in the place cited.” This is very similar to both ibid. and op. cit because it refers to a work that has just been cited as well as specifying that it is in the same place in the work with a given page or paragraph number. This is sometimes combined with an author’s name, making it similar to op. cit, except that loc. cit is only used when the author is referring to a full reference with a specific place in the document.
  • Sic. – This is an abbreviation for the Latin phrase “sic erat scriptum” which means “thus was it written.” This is used after a quotation that includes some spelling or grammatical error that signals to the reader that the spelling or grammatical error was not made by the author of the piece, but was the original text being cited, errors and all.

How can the term ibid. be used in a sentence?

Ibid. and ibidem are not commonly used in sentences, but are rather used in footnotes, endnotes, and citations. These phrases are used to reference that the current citation is the same source as the one directly previous to it. For example, someone might give the following citation in their footnote:

  1. J.R.R. Tolkein, The Lord of the Rings, 200
  2. Ibid.

This implies that the second citation is the same as the first, and on the same page as well.

Overall, the Latin term ibid. Is a term that is used when making footnotes or endnotes that are citing sources. Ibid. comes from the Latin ibidem, which means in the same place. This phrase is used to say that the current citation’s course is the same as the source that is directly previous to it. 

Sources:

  1. https://www.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/assistant/reading-lists/what-do-phrases-like-ibid-in-my-reading-lists-mean#:~:text=%2D%20An%20abbreviation%20for%20the%20Latin%20’ibidem’%20which%20means%20′,has%20just%20been%20referred%20to.
  2. https://www.hup.harvard.edu/resources/authors/pdf/hup-author-guidelines-notes.pdf
  3. https://www.etymonline.com/word/ibid.
  4. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ibid.
  5. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ibidem
  6. https://www.dictionary.com/browse/ibid