Regarding Re:

By Maeve Maddox

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Re: is one of those commonly used letter combinations (like SIC) that people tend to make up their own meanings for.

Re: is used at the top of letters and emails in order to steer the reader to the single most important topic of the message:

Dear Sir,
Re: Your order of 10/3/09

Re: Your submission For Whom the Bell Tolls

I’ve seen Re: explained as an abbreviation of the words “regarding” or “referencing.”

However, Re is not an abbreviation for anything.Re: means “re.”

Re is an English preposition in use since at least the 18th century. It means “in the matter of, with reference to.”

Like sic, re is a Latin word. It is the ablative form of the Latin noun res meaning “thing” or “affair.” Lawyers use the legal phrase in re when a proceeding is not brought by a person, but has to do with something like probate, or a public project like laying out a highway.

NOTE: Watch out for the definition “in regards to” given at Wiki Answers.
“In regards” is nonstandard English for in regard to.

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17 Responses to “Regarding Re:”

  • Trevor

    I’ve always thought the “RE:” stood for “reply,” as it always appeared in the subject line for email replies like “FWD:” does for forwarded messages. But my assumption that “re” is an abbreviation of “reply” isn’t too far off from the correct definition, as the word “reply” derives from the Latin “re-plicare.”

  • Sheila

    Love this website! It is THE most useful site in my feed. I have learned so much. You have saved me immeasurable time from always researching everything. God BLESS you. Now, my question, and I would love it if you could ever elaborate on it: What is the definition of peep, or rather what exactly does it mean in regards to all social media, etc., well, everything? I have looked in the dictionary and have gotten the expected definitions, to look, and one definition for people. I have heard a few people refer to, I think, their audience, as peeps. When did this originate and why? What is the correct usage in this regard? I can’t wait for you to expound. Thank you so much. And, by the way, you may use my garbled post here as a future example. I can handle it!

  • Tony Hearn

    And remember, if you do use the word, to say ‘ree’ not ‘ray’!

  • Neelima

    In Email’s Subject Line “Re:” most commonly understood as “Reply/Response” to an Email.

    “Re: ” is not taken as abbreviation of Regards/Reference.
    For Reference, Abbreviation is “Ref.”
    For Regards, there is no abbreviation used.

  • Adam

    Perhaps this has been addressed, but if not – peeps is a term used as a colloquialism for people – mostly used in reference to friends or fans.

    I gotta holla at ma peeps. = I’m going to enjoy a short exchange with colleagues or friends.

    Where ma peeps at? = I’m either seeking social acceptance, or trying to physically locate a collection of friends.

  • Baraka

    Sheila, re the definition of peep(s), also look it up at .

    BTW, that is another site that makes my day – just as DWT does. Kudos DWT Team, though, for that much welcome industry in their publishing work on their site..

  • jameswatt

    Re: Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

    Hereinabove re: is short/er for ref. It is used as part of headers in important correspondence; means concerning, with reference to; and it is necessarily followed by a compelling data that is referenced
    Re- prefix. Again: again and in a different way
    Re second note of the scale in solfa notation.(music). Anglicized in spelling as ray

    Re: Cassell’s Latin Dictionary

    Re- prep. Meaning sometimes back, sometimes against, and sometimes again

  • jameswatt

    In the post above there is a casual reference to the Latin word SIC. This in fact is short for sicut, meaning: as, just as, etc.
    In English this is used along with a citation containing a evident error, intending to affirm that the error is from the original text.

  • Sally

    When is re. used? I’ve seen this, as well as re: and am confused about which is correct. Also, how many spaces do you leave after the period or colon?

  • David West

    Thanks, I didn’t know if I had to write it like ‘RE’ or re or R.E or R.e..

    Re: so like this if the correct way. *bangs that into head*

    Trevor : Your assumption that you thought isn’t too far off the correct definition is actually quite far off for the record…..

    Re is an English preposition in use since at least the 18th century. It means “in the matter of, with reference to.”

    ^ that states nothing about Re meaning anything to do with ‘reply’

    I’m assuming you got bit confused.

    Am not being like trying to be a know it all…. as I don’t really know much anyway, but thought I should correct you.

  • Joseph

    The other commenters have already pointed out Trevor’s error in assuming a connection between “re,” the ablative of “res,” and the prefix “re-“, meaning “back” or “again.” Seems like he got confused by the difference in the use of “re” in emails vs. written letters.

    jameswatt also makes a mistake in stating that “sic” is short for “sicut.” In fact, “sic” and “ut” are Latin words entirely capable of functioning independently, the former meaning “so” or “thus,” the latter meaning “as” or “how.” That is to say, “sicut” is a result of the combination of the two, meaning “so as” “just as” or simply “as.”

  • Patrick

    You are an idiot.

  • Lisa Lowry Taylor

    First things first. @Sheila…really?? You can use the word “expound” correctly in a sentence but you can’t figure out what “peeps” are?

    I’m still confused on the correct way to reference something or someone in the middle of a sentence.

  • Steve

    Actually, Tony, Re is pronounced with a short e, like “reh.” That’s how the Latin was pronounced. “Ray” is just how native English speakers tend to sound when they try to pronounce that. “Ree” is simply an abomination produced by colonialists when they dare to pronounce foreign words according to the rules of English.

  • Maeve

    Steve and Tony
    Actually, it doesn’t matter how “Re” was pronounced in Latin. In English, either “Ray” or “ree” is acceptable pronunciation for “Re.” As for the rules of English, according to English spelling convention, when a syllable ends with a vowel, the vowel is usually pronounced with the long vowel sound.

  • Justin Soliday

    It would be nice just to see a comparison example of the correct way to use “re” or “re:” without having to sort through a plethora of extraneous babbling and snarky commentary.

  • Euclides Palacios

    A couple of questions:
    1. Would it be Re. or Re:
    2. Does Re (or Re:) have to be used in reply to something? May I be used in a cover letter for a job application when the applicant is addressing his potential employer for the fist time?

    Thank you!

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