Vita or Vitae?

The CV is an essential ingredient in hiring and promoting faculty. Unlike a resume, the CV grows over time and, for senior professors, can run to dozens of pages.

Appropriately for an evolving autobiographical document, CV stands for “curriculum vitae,” or “course of life” in Latin. Few people use the unabbreviated name, preferring to call it a CV or “vita.” As I learned in this clear explanation of the etymology of the term, it is never grammatically correct to say “vita.” In this case, “vitae” does not designate a plural but rather a modifier of “curriculum.”

To make CV plural, the technical way is “curricula vitarum.” Of course, no one says that. Furthermore, when you do say “vitae,” you should pronounce it “VEE-tye,” not “VEE-tay.”

Some could argue that modern usage has moved beyond the original Latin. Still, nitpickers abound. It’s best not to write “curriculum vitae” or any other title on your CV anyway. Do you write “Cover Letter” at the top of your cover letter? In conversation, it’s fine just to say, “CV.”

5 Responses to “Vita or Vitae?”

  1. Sharon Levine says:

    Peter, I love this!!!!! Last month, I spent an hour reading about what the correct usage was. Although I majored in Greek Classics, I took no Latin and so was stumped! I did not come upon this reference–what is the NCFR, anyway?! I did get far enough using a good dictionary to learn that vitae was not a plural (as alumna is to alumnae) so I knew that vita was incorrect. But this little sheet is fabulous! Bravo! A great chuckle and useful knowledge for the New Year!

  2. I need to ask how many hours did you actually spend publishing this write-up? It really is incredibly effectively written and writing is not my strong level. It truly exhibits that you might be keen about this, and it arrives across via your articles and reviews. Nicely carried out, and I will make it a point to comply with you from now on.

  3. Yamaha says:

    Fantastic post I am just learning on motorcycles and this post really helped me out! I really appreciate the effort.

  4. click says:

    I was suggested this blog via my cousin. I’m not certain whether or not this put up is written by him as no one else understand such distinctive about my trouble. You are wonderful! Thank you!

  5. Ras Patel says:

    Well done, nicely written.