Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

in lieu of

Have you ever heard somebody use the phrase “in lieu of”?

Does this sound like a really difficult one to understand and know how to use?

This actually dates very far back, but it is used very often in English.

We’re going to show you what this means and how to use it in conversation.

We have a question about this very phrase. 


Hey there Michelle and Lindsay!

How is your week going? Even though I am not able to attend your immersion weekend in the US, I feel excited for you guys. I am sure that it’s going to be such a practical one for the attendees.

Let’s get to the question: I was reading a book called ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’. On one of the pages I saw the words “in lieu of”. I had never seen that phrase before so I thought of getting some help from you as to what it means, how to use it, and in which sort of context can we see it being used?

Thanks for your explanation in advance. You help your students so much.

Kadir (18) From Turkey


Understanding This Common Phrase

What does “in lieu of” mean?

Simply put, this phrase means “instead of” or “as a substitute”.

It’s an older phrase that tells you that there is some sort of choice involved.

A few examples include:

  • “In lieu of party favors, we are making a donation to the Humane Society in honor of our guests.”
  • “I’m trying to be healthier, so I’m going for a baked potato in lieu of fries.”

As you can see, using this phrase indicates that you made some sort of choice in a situation.


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Thinking Through The Use of This Phrase

But why would you chose to use “in lieu of” in conversation?

It is definitely a more formal phrase to use rather than something like “instead of”.

Yes it indicates a choice and one that we have to make, but it’s typically a bit more fancy in its usage.

You might use this for a formal or professional business conversation.

There are other choices of phrases, so perhaps consider using “in lieu of” for a formal conversation.


Latin Phrases Are Quite Common

Yes, you will find that “in lieu of” is a Latin phrase.

There are many phrases used in English that derive from Latin words.

You might be surprised at just how many Latin phrases we still use in English.

  • Carpe Diem: This means to seize the day!
    • “You only live once, so I figure I’ll just go with it—carpe diem!”
  • Per Diem: This means per day when simply translated.
    • “You will be paid $300 in per diem when you are traveling.”
  • Verbatim: This means exactly, like without a doubt.
    • “I remember what she said, and those were the words that she used verbatim.”

There are a lot of Latin phrases that are still used in modern English.

Language borrows from other languages, and this is a perfect example of that. 



Now you know how to use “in lieu of” in conversation.

This means to make a choice, but it’s a more formal way of saying it.

This comes from a Latin phrase, and as you see there are several of these still used in modern conversations.

Try it out and remember that using new phrases is a way of making great connections–it never has to be about perfection!


If you have any questions, please leave them below in the comments section.

We’ll get back to you as soon as we can. 

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