According to Wikipedia, per se is a Latin phrase meaning ‘in itself’, although the individual Latin words can be defined as:
per = by or through
se = itself, himself, herself or themselves
The Merriam Webster dictionary explains that per se can be used as an adverb or an adjective as follows:
Definition of per se as an adverb (source: Merriam Webster)
- ‘by’, ‘of’, or ‘in’ itself (or oneself or themselves)
- as such
Example: It was not the exact colour per se, but it was close enough (where per se means ‘as such’)
Definition of per se as an adjective (source: Merriam Webster)
- being such inherently, clearly, or as a matter of law <a per se conflict of interest>
Some other facts about per se (source: Wiktionary)
- As per se is a Latin phrase, it is sometimes written in italics.
- It was known as persé until a spelling reform in 1995 made it obsolete.
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