Usage and Grammar

Q. Curriculum vitae or vita? According to Merriam-Webster vitae is the plural of vita, but another source indicates that vitae means the “course of one’s life” and vita means “a short biographical sketch.” If these definitions are accurate, it would make sense to use vitae, as the course of one’s life is made up of many singular events or sketches.

A. The two phrases are synonymous. Vita is Latin for “life,” and while it’s true that its plural is vitae, in the phrase curriculum vitae the word vitae is not a plural; it’s the genitive singular, translated “of life.” So curriculum vitae means “course of life” and vita (“life”) is a shorter way to say it.