Stat or Stet? Two Latin Words You Might Mix Up


When writing about speed, should you use the word stat or stet? With just one letter different, it might be easy to choose the wrong one.

You’re watching some medical show and you hear the tell-tell tone of someone flatlining. A doctor barks out orders, adding a certain four-letter word to stress the need for immediate action. But did he say stat or stet?

Many words in English can trace their origins to Latin. But some words we use didn’t evolve from Latin; they’re Latin words we pulled directly over. In some cases, we abbreviate them or use a shortened version. That brings us to the two words for today’s post.


We do know, of course, that the word stat, used as a noun, can be an abbreviation for statistic. You hear that usage in the world of sports when one wants to talk about an athlete’s record. You also hear it in the world of online dating when someone requests another person’s measurements or physical appearance.

But the definition I’m talking about is different. I’m talking about the adverb form of the word. In this case, it’s the word we hear in the medical drama at the end of a doctor’s urgent order for fast action. It means “immediately” or “at once.” It is a shortened version of the Latin word statim, which means “immediately” or “without delay.”


You may not have encountered the word stet as often, or even at all. But it’s still a valid word and, like stat, came to English directly from Latin.

It entered English all the way back to 1755, according to the Online Etymology Dictionary, which traces word origins. It is used in copyediting, particularly when that editing is done on paper. Sometimes, you see, even an copyeditor can make an error or change his or her mind when ordering a correction.

The way a copyeditor would indicate a change of heart about a certain correction was to write the word stet. That let the printer know to ignore the previous correction — whatever it was. It carries the meaning, “let it stand.”

So the stet command tells the printer to let the original text remain as written and disregard any copyediting marks that might otherwise change it.

So now you know the difference between stat and stet. You won’t likely find either used all that often unless you’re a doctor or an editor. If you’re either of those, more power to you!

the authorPatrick
Patrick is a Christian with more than 30 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.