Status quo is a Latin phrase meaning the existing state of affairs, particularly with regard to social, political, religious, scientific or military issues. In the sociological sense, the status quo refers to the current state of social structure or values. With regard to policy debate, it means how conditions are contrasted with a possible change. For example: "The countries are now trying to maintain the status quo with regard to their nuclear arsenals." To maintain the status quo is to keep things the way they presently are.
The related phrase status quo ante, literally "the status before", refers to the state of affairs that existed previously.