Learn English – the correct usage of “vis-à-vis”


I hear people use the term vis-à-vis all the time in place of what I believe should more correctly be for example or that is.

What is the most generally accepted correct and appropriate use of vis-à-vis, and what are its origins?

Best Answer

According to The Phrase Finder, the term is French and literally meant face-to-face. When the English picked it up in the 18th century, they started using it to describe a type of horse-drawn carriage wherein there are two seats, allowing occupants to sit across from one another in a face-to-face fashion.

Usage eventually extended to include the alternate meaning of with regard to, and in modern-day discourse it is accepted to use with regard to and vis-à-vis interchangeably. In fact, many people will get confused when you use it to convey its original meaning since the alternate meaning has overshadowed it.