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Latin maxims

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Roman plaque commemorating the repair of the Colosseum
Roman plaque commemorating the repair of the Colosseum in the 4th century CE, commissioned by Decius Marius Venatius Basilius | Photo: Tomasz Podkowa

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a maiore ad minus

  • from the greater to the smaller
  • description: From general to particular; “What holds for all X also holds for one particular X.” – argumentum a fortiori

a minore ad maius

  • from the smaller to the greater
  • description: An inference from smaller to bigger; what is forbidden at least is forbidden at more (“If riding a bicycle with two on it is forbidden, riding it with three on it is at least similarly punished”.)

a solis ortu usque ad occasum

  • from sunrise to sunset

ab absurdo

  • from the absurd
  • description: Said of an argument either for a conclusion that rests on the alleged absurdity of an opponent’s argument (cf. appeal to ridicule) or that another assertion is false because it is absurd. The phrase is distinct from reductio ad absurdum, which is usually a valid logical argument.

ab abusu ad usum non valet consequentia

  • An inference from an abuse to a use is not valid
  • description: Rights abused are still rights; confer abusus non tollit usum.

ab aeterno

  • from the eternal
  • description: Literally, “from the everlasting”, “from eternity”, and “from outside of time”. Philosophically and theologically, it indicates something, e. g., the universe, that was created from outside of time. Sometimes the phrase is used incorrectly to denote “from time immemorial”, “since the beginning of time”, or “from an infinitely remote time in the past”, i. e., not from without time but from a point within time.

ab antiquo

  • from the ancient
  • description: From ancient times

a bene placito

  • from one well pleased
  • description: Or, “at will” or “at one’s pleasure”. This phrase, and its Italian (beneplacito) and Spanish (beneplácito) derivatives, are synonymous with the more common ad libitum (at pleasure).

ab epistulis

  • from the letters[1]
  • description: Regarding or pertaining to correspondence;[1] secretarial office in the Roman Empire

ab extra

  • from beyond/without
  • description: Legal term denoting derivation from an external source, rather than from a person’s self or mind, this latter source being denoted by “ab intra”.

ab hinc

  • from here on
  • description: Also sometimes written as “abhinc”

ab imo pectore

  • from the deepest chest
  • description: Or “from the bottom of my heart”, “with deepest affection”, or “sincerely”. Attributed to Julius Caesar.

ab inconvenienti

  • from an inconvenient thing
  • description: New Latin for “based on unsuitability”, “from inconvenience”, or “from hardship”. An argumentum ab inconvenienti is one based on the difficulties involved in pursuing a line of reasoning, and is thus a form of appeal to consequences. The phrase refers to the legal principle that an argument from inconvenience has great weight.

ab incunabulis

  • from the cradle
  • description: Thus, “from the beginning” or “from infancy”. Incunabula is commonly used in English to refer to the earliest stage or origin of something, and especially to copies of books that predate the spread of the printing press circa 1500.

ab initio

  • from the beginning
  • description: Or, “from the outset”, referring to an inquiry or investigation. In literature, it refers to a story told from the beginning rather than in medias res (“from the middle”). In law, it refers to a thing being true from its beginning or from the instant of the act, rather than from when the court declared it so. An annulment is a judicial declaration of the invalidity or nullity of a marriage ab initio; i. e., that the pseudo marriage was “no thing” (in Latin, nullius, from which the word “nullity” derives) and never existed, except perhaps in name only. In science, the phrase refers to the first principles. In other contexts, it often refers to beginner or training courses. Ab initio mundi means “from the beginning of the world”.

ab intestato

  • from an intestate
  • description: From a decedent, i. e., a dead person, who died without executing a legal will; cf. ex testamento

ab intra

  • from within
  • description: From the inside; the opposite of ab extra

ab invito

  • unwillingly

ab irato

  • from an angry man
  • description: Or, “by an angry person”; used in law to describe a decision or action that is detrimental to those whom it affects and is motivated by hatred or anger instead of reason. The form irato is masculine; however, this does not limit the application of the phrase to men: rather, “person” is meant because the phrase probably elides “homo” (“man/person”), not “vir” (“man”).

ab origine

  • from the source
  • description: From the origin, beginning, source, or commencement; i. e., “originally”. It is the source of the word aboriginal.

ab ovo usque ad mala

  • from the egg to the apples
  • description: From Horace, Satire, 1.3. Means “from beginning to end”, based on the Roman main meal typically beginning with an egg dish and ending with fruit; cf. the English phrase soup to nuts. Thus, ab ovo means “from the beginning”, and can connote thoroughness.

absens haeres non erit

  • an absent person will not be an heir
  • description: Legal principle that a person who is not present is unlikely to inherit

absente reo (abs. re.)

  • [with] the defendant being absent
  • description: Legal phrase denoting action “in the absence of the accused”

absit iniuria

  • “let injury be absent”
  • description: Expresses the wish that no insult or injury be presumed or done by the speaker’s words, i. e., “no offense”. Also rendered absit iniuria verbis (“let injury be absent from these words”). Contrast with absit invidia.

absit invidia

  • “let ill will/envy be absent”
  • description: Said in the context of a statement of excellence: unlike the English expression “no offense”, absit invidia is intended to ward off envious deities who might interpret a statement of excellence as hubris. Also extended to absit invidia verbo, (“may ill will/envy be absent from these words”). Contrast it with absit iniuria verbis. An explanation of Livy’s usage.

absit omen

  • let an omen be absent
  • description: Or, “let this not be a bad omen”. Expresses the wish that something seemingly ill-boding does not turn out to be an omen for future events, and calls on Divine protection against evil.

absolutum dominium

  • absolute dominion
  • description: Total, if not supreme, power, dominion, ownership, and sovereignty


  • I acquit
  • description: Legal term pronounced by a judge to acquit a defendant following his trial. Te absolvo or absolvo te, translated, “I forgive you”, said by Roman Catholic priests during the Sacrament of Confession, in Latin prior to the Second Vatican Council and in vernacular thereafter.

abundans cautela non nocet

  • abundant caution does no harm
  • description: Frequently re-phrased as “one can never be too careful”

ab uno disce omnes

  • from one, learn all
  • description: From Virgil, Aeneid, Book 2, 65-6. Refers to situations where a single example or observation indicates a general or universal truth. Visible in the court of the character King Silas in the American television series Kings.

ab urbe condita (a.u.c.)

  • from the city having been founded
  • description: Or, “from the founding of Rome”, which occurred in 753 BCE, according to Livy’s count. It was used as a referential year in ancient Rome from which subsequent years were calculated, prior to being replaced by other dating conventions. Also anno urbis conditae (a.u.c.); literally “in the year of the founded city”.

abusus non tollit usum

  • misuse does not remove use
  • description: The misuse of some thing does not eliminate the possibility of its correct use.

ab utili

  • from utility
  • description: Used of an argument

abyssus abyssum invocat

  • deep calleth unto deep
  • description: From Psalms 42:7; some translations have “sea calls to sea”.

a caelo usque ad centrum

  • from the sky to the center
  • description: Or, “from Heaven all the way to the center of the Earth”. In law, it may refer to the proprietary principle of Cuius est solum, eius est usque ad coelum et ad inferos (“Whosesoever is the soil, it is his up to the sky and down to the depths [of the Earth]”).

a capite ad calcem

  • from head to heel
  • description: From top to bottom; all the way through; or from head to toe; see also a pedibus usque ad caput

accusare nemo se debet nisi coram Deo

  • no one ought to accuse himself except in the presence of God
  • description: Legal principle denoting that an accused person is entitled to plead not guilty, and that a witness is not obligated to respond or submit a document that would incriminate himself. A similar phrase is nemo tenetur se ipsum accusare (“no one is bound to accuse himself”). See right to silence.

a contrario

  • from the opposite
  • description: Equivalent to “on the contrary” and “au contraire”. An argumentum a contrario (“argument from the contrary”) is an argument or proof by contrast or direct opposite.

acta deos numquam mortalia fallunt

  • mortal actions never deceive the gods
  • description: Ovid, Tristia, 1.2.97: si tamen acta deos numquam mortalia fallunt, / a culpa facinus scitis abesse mea. (“Yet if mortal actions never deceive the gods, / you know that crime was absent from my fault.”)

acta est fabula plaudite

  • The play has been performed; applaud!
  • description: Common ending to ancient Roman comedies; Suetonius claimed in The Twelve Caesars that these were the last words of Augustus; Sibelius applied them to the third movement of his String Quartet No. 2, so that his audience would recognize that it was the last one, because a fourth would be ordinarily expected.

acta sanctorum

  • Deeds of the Saints
  • description: Also used in the singular preceding a saint’s name: Acta Sancti (“Deeds of Saint”) N.; a common title of hagiography works

actiones secundum fidei

  • action follows belief
  • description: “We act according to what we believe (ourselves to be).”[2]

actus me invito factus non est meus actus

  • the act done by me against my will is not my act

actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea

  • The act does not make [a person] guilty unless the mind should be guilty.
  • description: Legal principle of the presumption of mens rea in a crime

actus reus

  • guilty act
  • description: The actual crime that is committed, as distinguished from the intent, thinking, and rationalizing that procured the criminal act; the external elements of a crime, as contrasted with the mens rea, i. e., the internal elements.

ad absurdum

  • to absurdity
  • description: In logic, to the point of being silly or nonsensical. See also reductio ad absurdum. Not to be confused with ab absurdo (“from the absurd”).

ad abundantiam

  • to abundance
  • description: In legal language, used when providing additional evidence to an already sufficient collection. Also used commonly, as an equivalent of “as if this wasn’t enough”.

ad acta

  • to the archives
  • description: Denoting the irrelevance of a thing

ad altiora tendo

  • I strive towards higher things

ad arbitrium

  • at will, at pleasure

ad astra

  • to the stars
  • description: Name or motto, in whole or part, of many organizations’ publications

ad astra per aspera

  • to the stars through difficulties
  • description: Or, “a rough road leads to the stars”, as on the Launch Complex 34 memorial plaque for the astronauts of Apollo 1; motto of the State of Kansas and other organisations

ad augusta per angusta

  • to rise to a high position overcoming hardships

ad captandum vulgus

  • in order to capture the crowd
  • description: To appeal to the masses. Often said of or used by politicians. An argumentum ad captandum is an argument designed to please the crowd.

ad clerum

  • to the clergy
  • description: Formal letter or communication in the Christian tradition from a bishop to his clergy. An “ad clerum” may be an encouragement in a time of celebration or a technical explanation of new regulations or canons.

a Deucalione

  • from or since Deucalion
  • description: A long time ago; from Gaius Lucilius, Satires, 6, 284

ad eundem

  • to the same
  • description: An ad eundem degree, from the Latin ad eundem gradum (“to the same step” or “to the same degree”), is a courtesy degree awarded by a university or college to an alumnus of another. It is not an honorary degree but a recognition of the formal learning for which the degree was earned at another college.

ad fundum

  • to the bottom
  • description: Said during a generic toast; equivalent to “bottoms up!” In other contexts, it generally means “back to the basics”.

ad hoc

  • to this
  • description: Generally means “for this”, in the sense of improvised or intended only for a specific, immediate purpose.

ad hominem

  • to the man
  • description: Or, “at the man”. Typically used in argumentum ad hominem, a logical fallacy consisting of criticizing a person when the subject of debate is the person’s ideas or argument, on the mistaken assumption that the soundness of an argument is dependent on the qualities of the proponent.

ad honorem

  • to the honour
  • description: “for the honour”, not for the purpose of gaining any material reward

ad infinitum

  • to infinity
  • description: Enduring forever. Used to designate a property which repeats in all cases in mathematical proof. Also used in philosophical contexts to mean “repeating in all cases”.

ad interim (ad int.)

  • for the meantime
  • description: As in the term “chargé d’affaires ad interim”, denoting a diplomatic officer who acts in place of an ambassador

ad kalendas graecas

  • at the Greek Calends
  • description: Attributed by Suetonius in The Twelve Caesars to Augustus. The Calends were specific days of the Roman calendar, not of the Greek, and so the “Greek Kalends” would never occur. Similar to “when pigs fly”.

ad libitum (ad lib)

  • toward pleasure
  • description: Loosely, “according to what pleases” or “as you wish”; libitum comes from the past participle of libere, “to please”. It typically indicates in music and theatrical scripts that the performer has the liberty to change or omit something. Ad lib is specifically often used when someone improvises or ignores limitations. Also used by some restaurants in favor of the colloquial “all you can eat or drink”.

ad litem

  • to the lawsuit
  • description: Legal phrase referring to a party appointed by a court to act in a lawsuit on behalf of another party who is deemed incapable of representing himself. An individual who acts in this capacity is called a guardian ad litem.

ad locum (ad loc.)

  • at the place
  • description: Used to suggest looking for information about a term in the corresponding place in a cited work of reference.

ad lucem

  • to the light
  • description: frequently used motto for educational institutions

ad mortem

  • to death
  • description: Medical phrase serving as a synonym for death

ad multos annos

  • to many years
  • description: Wish for a long life; similar to “many happy returns”

ad nauseam

  • to sickness
  • description: Or, “to the point of disgust”. Sometimes used as a humorous alternative to ad infinitum. An argumentum ad nauseam is a logical fallacy whose erroneous proof is proffered by prolonged repetition of the argument, i. e., the argument is repeated so many times that persons are “sick of it”.

ad oculos

  • to the eyes
  • description: “obvious on sight” or “obvious to anyone that sees it”

ad pedem litterae

  • to the foot of the letter
  • description: Thus, “exactly as it is written”; similar to the phrase “to the letter”, meaning “to the last detail”

ad perpetuam memoriam

  • to the perpetual memory
  • description: Generally precedes “of” and a person’s name, and is used to wish for someone to be remembered long after death

ad pondus omnium (ad pond om)

  • to the weight of all things
  • description: More loosely, “considering everything’s weight”. The abbreviation was historically used by physicians and others to signify that the last prescribed ingredient is to weigh as much as all of the previously mentioned ones.

ad quod damnum

  • to whatever damage
  • description: Meaning “according to the harm” or “in proportion to the harm”. The phrase is used in tort law as a measure of damages inflicted, implying that a remedy, if one exists, ought to correspond specifically and only to the damage suffered (cf. damnum absque iniuria).

ad referendum

  • to be proposed [before the Senate]
  • description: Loosely “subject to reference”: provisionally approved, but still needing official approval. Not the same as a referendum.

(ad ref)

ad rem

  • to the matter
  • description: “to the point”, without digression

ad terminum qui praeteriit

  • for the term which has passed
  • description: Legal phrase for a writ of entry ad terminum qui praeteriit (“for the term which has passed”).[3]

ad undas

  • to the waves
  • description: Equivalent to “to Hell”

ad unum

  • to one

ad usum Delphini

  • for the use of the Dauphin
  • description: Said of a work that has been expurgated of offensive or improper parts. The phrase originates from editions of Greek and Roman classics which King Louis XIV of France had censored for his heir apparent, the Dauphin. Also rarely “in usum Delphini” (“into the use of the Dauphin”).

ad usum proprium (ad us. propr.)

  • for one’s own use

ad valorem

  • according to value
  • description: Used in commerce to refer to ad valorem taxes, i. e., taxes based on the assessed value of real estate or personal property

ad victoriam

  • to victory
  • description: More commonly translated “for victory”, it was a battlecry of the Romans

ad vitam aeternam

  • to eternal life
  • description: Also “to life everlasting”; a common Biblical phrase

ad vitam aut culpam

  • for life or until fault
  • description: Phrase describing the term of a political office as ending upon the death of the officer or his commission of a sufficiently grave immorality and/or legal crime.


  • thing to be added
  • description: An item to be added, especially as a supplement to a book. The plural is addenda.

adaequatio intellectus et rei

  • correspondence of the mind and reality
  • description: One of the classic definitions of “truth”. When the mind has the same form as reality, we think truth. Also found as adaequatio rei et intellectus.

adaequatio intellectus nostri cum re

  • conformity of our minds to the fact
  • description: Phrase used in epistemology regarding the nature of understanding.


  • I am here
  • description: Equivalent to “Present!” or “Here!” The opposite of absum (“I am absent”).

adversus solem ne loquitor

  • do not speak against the Sun
  • description: Or, “do not argue what is obviously/manifestly incorrect”.

advocatus diaboli

  • Devil’s advocate
  • description: Someone who, in the face of a specific argument, voices an argument that he does not necessarily accept, for the sake of argument and discovering the truth by testing the opponent’s argument. Confer the term “arguendo”.

aegri somnia

  • a sick man’s dreams
  • description: Horace, Ars Poetica, 7. Loosely, “troubled dreams”.

aes alienum

  • financial debt
  • description: literally “someone else’s money”


  • of age / aged
  • description: Often abbreviated to “aetat.”, or more frequently further to “aet.”; meaning “of age _ [years]” or “aged _ [years]”. E. g., “aetatis 36” denotes being “36 years old”.

aetatis suae

  • of his age (followed by an ordinal number)
  • description: Thus, “at the age of _ [years]”. Appears on portraits, gravestones, monuments, et cetera. Usually preceded by anno (AAS), “in the year [of his age/life] _”. Sometimes shortened to aetatis, aetat.”, or even “aet. Frequently combined with Anno Domini, giving a date as both the theoretical age of Jesus Christ and the age of the decedent; e. g., Obiit anno Domini MDCXXXVIo (tricensimo sexto), [anno] aetatis suae XXVo (vicensimo quinto) (“he died in the 1636th year of the Lord, [being] the 25th 2024 of his age[/life]”).

a falsis principiis proficisci

  • to set forth from false principles
  • description: Legal phrase; Cicero, De Finibus, 4.53.


  • he asserted
  • description: Legal term from “fides” (“faith”), originating at least from Medieval Latin to denote a statement under oath.

a fortiori

  • from the stronger
  • description: Loosely, “even more so” or “with even stronger reason”. Often used to lead from a less certain proposition to a more evident corollary.

age quod agis

  • do what you are doing
  • description: More often translated as “do well whatever you do”. Literally translated, it means “do what you do”; figuratively it means “keep going, because you are inspired or dedicated to do so”. This is the motto of several Roman Catholic schools. It was also used by Pope John XXIII in the sense of “do not be concerned with any other matter than the task in hand”; he was allaying worry of what would become of him in the future: his sense of “age quod agis” was “joy” regarding what is presently occurring and “detachment” from concern of the future. (Pope John XXIII, Journal of a Soul, pages 154-5)

agere sequitur (esse)

  • action follows being
  • description: Metaphysical and moral principle that indicates the connection of ontology, obligation, and ethics.[2]

Agnus Dei

  • Lamb of God
  • description: Latin translation from John 1: 36, when St. John the Baptist exclaimed “Ecce Agnus Dei!” (“Behold the Lamb of God!”) upon seeing Jesus Christ; it refers both to the innocence of a lamb and to Christ being a sacrificial lamb after the Jewish religious practice.

alea iacta est

  • the die is cast
  • description: Or, in Greek, ἀνερρίφθω κύβος anerrhíphthō kýbos; said by Julius Caesar upon crossing the Rubicon in 49 BCE, according to Suetonius. The original meaning was similar to “the game is afoot”, but its modern meaning, like that of the phrase “crossing the Rubicon”, denotes passing the point of no return on a momentous decision and entering into a risky endeavor where the outcome is left to chance.


  • at another time, otherwise
  • description: An assumed name or pseudonym; similar to alter ego, but more specifically referring to a name, not to a “second self”.


  • elsewhere
  • description: Legal defense where a defendant attempts to show that he was elsewhere at the time a crime was committed.
  • description: His alibi is sound; he gave evidence that he was in another city on the night of the murder.

aliquid stat pro aliquo

  • something stands for something else
  • description: Foundational definition in semiotics

alis aquilae

  • on an eagle’s wings
  • description: Quotation from Isaiah, 40: “But those who wait for the Lord shall find their strength renewed, they shall mount up on wings like eagles, they shall run and not grow weary, they shall walk and not grow faint.”

alis grave nil

  • nothing [is] heavy with wings
  • description: Or, “nothing is heavy to those who have wings”. Motto of the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

alma mater

  • nourishing mother
  • description: Term used for the university one attends or has attended. Another university term, matriculation, is also derived from mater. The term suggests that the students are “fed” knowledge and taken care of by the university. The term is also used for a university’s traditional school anthem.

alter ego

  • another I
  • description: Another self, a second persona or alias. Can be used to describe different facets or identities of a single character, or different characters who seem representations of the same personality. Often used of a fictional character’s secret identity.

alterius non sit qui suus esse potest

  • let no man be another’s who can be his own
  • description: Final sentence from Aesop ascribed fable (see also Aesop’s Fables) “The Frogs Who Desired a King” as appears in the collection commonly known as the “Anonymus Neveleti”, in Fable 21B: De ranis a Iove querentibus regem). Motto of Paracelsus. Usually attributed to Cicero.

alterum non laedere

  • to not wound another
  • description: One of Justinian I’s three basic legal precepts

alumnus or

  • pupil
  • description: Graduate or former student of a school, college, or university. Plural of alumnus is alumni (male). Plural of alumna is alumnae (female).


a mari usque ad mare

  • from sea to sea
  • description: This translation ignores the word usque, which is an emphasis word, so a better translation is probably from sea even unto sea. From Psalm 72:8, “Et dominabitur a mari usque ad mare, et a flumine usque ad terminos terrae” (KJV: “He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth”). National motto of Canada.

amicus certus in re incerta

  • a sure friend in an unsure matter
  • description: Ennius, as quoted by Cicero in Laelius de Amicitia s. 64

amicus curiae

  • friend of the court
  • description: An adviser, or a person who can obtain or grant access to the favour of a powerful group, e. g., the a Roman Curia. In current United States legal usage, an amicus curiae is a third party allowed to submit a legal opinion in the form of an amicus brief to the court.

Amicus Plato, sed magis amica veritas.

  • Plato is my friend, but truth is a better friend.
  • description: An assertion that truth is more valuable than friendship; attributed to Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, 1096a15 and Roger Bacon, Opus Majus, Part 1, Chapter 5.

amittere legem terrae

  • to lose the law of the land
  • description: An obsolete legal phrase signifying the forfeiture of the right of swearing in any court or cause, or to become infamous.

amat victoria curam

  • victory favors care
  • description: frequently used motto for educational institutions

amor Dei intellectualis

  • intellectual love of God
  • description: Baruch Spinoza

amor et melle et felle est fecundissimus

  • love is rich with both honey and venom

amor fati

  • love of fate
  • description: Nietzscheian alternative world view to that represented by memento mori (“remember you must die”): Nietzsche believed “amor fati” was more affirmative of life.

amor omnibus idem

  • love is the same for all
  • description: Virgil, Georgics, 3

amor patriae

  • love of the fatherland
  • description: Or, “love of the nation”, i. e., patriotism

amor vincit omnia

  • love conquers all
  • description: Inscribed on a bracelet worn by the Prioress in Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales; originally from Virgil, Eclogues, 10, 69: omnia vincit amor: et nos cedamus amori (“love conquers all: let us too surrender to love”).

An nescis, mi fili, quantilla prudentia mundus regatur?

  • Do you not know, my son, with how little wisdom the world is governed?
  • description: Said by Axel Oxenstierna to encourage his son, a delegate to the negotiations that would lead to the Peace of Westphalia, who worried about his ability to hold his own amidst experienced and eminent statesmen and diplomats.


  • in English
  • description: Used before the anglicized version of a word or name. For example, “Terra Mariae, anglice, Maryland”.

anno (an.)

  • in the year
  • description: Also used in such phrases as anno urbis conditae (see ab urbe condita), Anno Domini, and anno regni.

anno Domini (A.D.)

  • in the year of our Lord
  • description: Abbreviated from Anno Domini Nostri Jesu Christi (“in the year of Our Lord Jesus Christ”), the predominantly used system for dating years across the world; used with the Gregorian Calendar and based on the perceived year of the birth of Jesus Christ. The years before His birth were formerly signified by a. C. n (ante Christum natum (“before Christ was born”)), but now use the English abbreviation “BC” (“before Christ”). For example, Augustus was born in the year 63 BCE and died in 14 CE.

anno regni

  • In the year of the reign
  • description: Precedes “of” and the current ruler

annuit cœptis

  • he nods at things now begun
  • description: Or, “he approves our undertakings”. Motto on the reverse of the Great Seal of the United States and, consequently, on the reverse of the United States one-dollar bill; in this context the motto refers to God.

annus horribilis

  • horrible year
  • description: Variation on annus mirabilis, recorded in print from 1890;[4] notably used in a speech by Queen Elizabeth II to describe what a bad year 1992 had been for her. In Classical Latin, this phrase actually means “terrifying year”. See also annus terribilis.

annus mirabilis

  • wonderful year
  • description: Used particularly to refer to the years 1665 and 1666, during which Isaac Newton made revolutionary inventions and discoveries in calculus, motion, optics and gravitation. Annus Mirabilis is also the title of a poem by John Dryden written in the same year. It has since been used to refer to other years, especially to 1905, when Albert Einstein made equally revolutionary discoveries concerning the photoelectric effect, Brownian motion, mass-energy equivalence, and the special theory of relativity. (See Annus Mirabilis papers)

annus terribilis

  • dreadful year
  • description: Used to describe 1348, the year the Black Death began to afflict Europe

ante bellum

  • before the war
  • description: As in status quo ante bellum (“as it was before the war”); commonly used in the Southern United States as antebellum to refer to the period preceding the American Civil War.

ante cibum (a.c.)

  • before food
  • description: Medical shorthand for “before meals”

ante litteram

  • before the letter
  • description: Said of an expression or term that describes something which existed before the phrase itself was introduced or became common. Example: Alan Turing was a computer scientist ante litteram, since the field of “computer science” was not yet recognized in Turing’s day.

ante meridiem (a.m.)

  • before midday
  • description: From midnight to noon; confer post meridiem

ante mortem

  • before death
  • description: See post mortem (“after death”)

ante omnia armari

  • before all else, be armed

ante prandium (a.p.)

  • before lunch
  • description: Used on pharmaceutical prescriptions to denote “before a meal”. Less common is post prandium (“after lunch”).

antiqui colant antiquum dierum

  • let the ancients worship the ancient of days
  • description: The motto of Chester

a pedibus usque ad caput

  • from feet to head
  • description: Or, “completely”; similar to the English expressions “from tip to toe” and “from head to toe”. Equally a capite ad calcem. See also ab ovo usque ad mala.

a posse ad esse

  • from being able to being
  • description: “From possibility to actuality” or “from being possible to being actual”.

a posteriori

  • from the latter
  • description: Based on observation, i. e., empirical evidence; the reverse of a priori. Used in mathematics and logic to denote something that is known after a proof has been carried out. In philosophy, used to denote something known from experience.

apparatus criticus

  • tools of a critic
  • description: Textual notes or a list of other readings relating to a document, especially in a scholarly edition of a text.

a priori

  • from the former
  • description: Presupposed independent of experience; the reverse of a posteriori. Used in mathematics and logic to denote something that is known or postulated before a proof has been carried out. In philosophy, used to denote something is supposed without empirical evidence. In everyday speech, it denotes something occurring or being known before the event.

apologia pro vita sua

  • defense of one’s life
  • description: [5]


  • in the writings of
  • description: Used in scholarly works to cite a reference at second hand

aqua (aq.)

  • water

aqua fortis

  • strong water
  • description: Refers to nitric acid, thus called because of its ability to dissolve all materials except gold and platinum

aqua pura

  • pure water
  • description: Or, “clear water” or “clean water”

aqua regia

  • royal water
  • description: Refers to a mixture of hydrochloric acid and nitric acid, thus called because of its ability to dissolve gold and platinum

aqua vitae

  • water of life
  • description: “Spirit of Wine” in many English texts. Used to refer to various native distilled beverages, such as whisky (uisge beatha) in Scotland and Ireland, gin in the Netherlands, brandy (eau de vie) in France, and akvavit in Scandinavia.

aquila non capit muscas

  • an eagle does not catch flies
  • description: Or, “a noble or important person does not deal with insignificant matters”

arare litus

  • to plough the seashore
  • description: Desiderius Erasmus, Adagia (1508); meaning “wasted labor”

arbiter elegantiarum

  • judge of tastes
  • description: One who prescribes, rules on, or is a recognized authority on matters of social behavior and taste. Said of Petronius. Sometimes found in the singular as arbiter elegantiae (“judge of taste”).

arcana imperii

  • the secrets of power
  • description: Originally used by Tacitus to refer to the state secrets and unaccountable acts of the Roman imperial government

arcus senilis

  • bow of an old person
  • description: An opaque circle around the cornea of the eye, often seen in elderly people

argentum album

  • white silver
  • description: Also “silver coin”; mentioned in the Domesday Book; signifies bullion or silver uncoined


  • for arguing
  • description: Or, “for the sake of argument”. Said when something is done purely in order to discuss a matter or illustrate a point. E. g., “let us assume, arguendo, that your claim is correct.”


  • argument
  • description: Or “reasoning”, “inference”, “appeal”, or “proof”. The plural is argumenta. Commonly used in the names of logical arguments and fallacies, preceding phrases such as a silentio (by silence), ad antiquitatem (to antiquity), ad baculum (to the stick), ad captandum (to capturing), ad consequentiam (to the consequence), ad crumenam (to the purse), ad feminam (to the woman), ad hominem (to the person), ad ignorantiam (to ignorance), ad invidiam (to hatred – appealing to low passions), ad judicium (to judgment), ad lazarum (to poverty), ad logicam (to logic), ad metum (to fear), ad misericordiam (to pity), ad nauseam (to nausea), ad novitatem (to novelty), ad personam (to the character), ad numerum (to the number), ad odium (to spite), ad populum (to the people), ad temperantiam (to moderation), ad verecundiam (to reverence), ex silentio (from silence), in terrorem (into terror), and e contrario (from/to the opposite).

armata potentia

  • armed and powerful
  • description: charge made by a Justice of the Peace in Medieval England against those who rode in arms against the King’s Peace.

ars celare artem

  • art [is] to conceal art
  • description: An aesthetic ideal that good art should appear natural rather than contrived. Of medieval origin, but often incorrectly attributed to Ovid.[6]

ars gratia artis

  • art for the sake of art
  • description: Translated into Latin from Baudelaire’s L’art pour l’art. Motto of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. While symmetrical for the logo of MGM, the better word order in Latin is “Ars artis gratia”.

ars longa, vita brevis

  • art is long, life is short
  • description: Seneca, De Brevitate Vitae, 1.1, translating a phrase of Hippocrates that is often used out of context. The “art” referred to in the original aphorism was the craft of medicine, which took a lifetime to acquire.

Artis Bohemiae Amicis

  • Friends of Czech Arts
  • description: Award of the Minister of Culture of the Czech Republic for the promotion of the positive reputation of Czech culture abroad

asinus ad lyram

  • an ass to the lyre
  • description: Desiderius Erasmus, Adagia (1508); meaning “an awkward or incompetent individual”

asinus asinum fricat

  • the jackass rubs the jackass
  • description: Used to describe 2 persons who are lavishing excessive praise on one another

assecuratus non quaerit lucrum sed agit ne in damno sit

  • the assured does not seek profit but makes [it his profit] that he not be in loss
  • description: Refers to the insurance principle that the indemnity can not be larger than the loss

astra inclinant, sed non obligant

  • the stars incline us, they do not bind us
  • description: Refers to the distinction of free will from astrological determinism

auctores varii

  • various authors
  • description: Used in bibliography for books, texts, publications, or articles that have more than 3 collaborators


  • authority
  • description: Level of prestige a person had in Roman society

auctoritas non veritas facit legem

  • authority, not truth, makes law
  • description: This formula appears in the 1668 Latin revised edition of Thomas Hobbes’s Leviathan, book 2, chapter 26, p. 133.

audacia pro muro et scuto opus

  • boldness is our wall, action is our shield
  • description: Cornelis Jol,[7] in a bid to rally his rebellious captains to fight and conquer the Spanish treasure fleet in 1638.

audacter calumniare, semper aliquid haeret

  • slander boldly, something always sticks
  • description: Francis Bacon, De Augmentis Scientiarum (1623)

audentes fortuna iuvat

  • fortune favors the bold
  • description: From Virgil, Aeneid, Book 10, 284, where the first word is in the archaic form audentis. Allegedly the last words of Pliny the Elder before he left the docks at Pompeii to rescue people from the eruption of Vesuvius in 79. Often quoted as audaces fortuna iuvat. Also the motto of the Portuguese Army Commandos and the USS Montpelier in the latter form.

audi alteram partem

  • hear the other side
  • description: Legal principle; also worded as audiatur et altera pars (“let the other side be heard also”)

audi, vide, tace

  • hear, see, be silent

aurea mediocritas

  • golden mean
  • description: From Horace’s Odes, 2, 10. Refers to the ethical goal of reaching a virtuous middle ground between two sinful extremes. The golden mean concept is common to many philosophers, chiefly Aristotle.

auri sacra fames

  • accursed hunger for gold
  • description: From Virgil, Aeneid, Book 3, 57. Later quoted by Seneca as quod non mortalia pectora coges, auri sacra fames (“what do not you force mortal hearts [to do], accursed hunger for gold”).

auribus teneo lupum

  • I hold a wolf by the ears
  • description: Common ancient proverb, this version from Terence. It indicates that one is in a dangerous situation where both holding on and letting go could be deadly. A modern version is “to have a tiger by the tail”.

aurora australis

  • southern dawn
  • description: The Southern Lights, an aurora that appears in the Southern Hemisphere. It is less well-known than the Northern Lights (aurorea borealis). The Aurora Australis is also the name of an Antarctic icebreaker ship.

aurora borealis

  • northern dawn
  • description: The Northern Lights, an aurora that appears in the Northern Hemisphere.

aurora musis amica

  • dawn is a friend to the muses
  • description: Title of a distich by Iohannes Christenius (1599–1672): “Conveniens studiis non est nox, commoda lux est; / Luce labor bonus est et bona nocte quies.” (“Night is not suitable for studying, daylight is; / working by light is good, as is rest at night.”); in Nihus, Barthold (1642). Epigrammata disticha. Johannes Kinckius.

Aut amat, out odit mulier, nil est tertium

  • A woman, either loves or hates, has nothing third
  • Publilius Syrus (1st century BCE) – Roman writer
  • source: Publilius Syrus, Sententiae

aut Caesar aut nihil

  • either Caesar or nothing
  • description: Denotes an absolute aspiration to become the Emperor, or the equivalent supreme magistrate, and nothing else. More generally, “all or nothing”. A personal motto of Cesare Borgia. Charlie Chaplin also used the phrase in The Great Dictator to ridicule Hynkel’s (Chaplin’s parody of Hitler) ambition for power, but substituted “nullus” for “nihil”.

aut consilio aut ense

  • either by meeting or the sword
  • description: I. e., either through reasoned discussion or through war. It was the first motto of Chile (see coat of arms), changed to Spanish: Por la razón o la fuerza. Name of episode 1 in season 3 of Berlin Station.

aut cum scuto aut in scuto

  • either with shield or on shield
  • description: Or, “do or die” or “no retreat”. A Greek expression («Ἢ τὰν ἢ ἐπὶ τᾶς») that Spartan mothers said to their sons as they departed for battle. It refers to the practices that a Greek hoplite would drop his cumbersome shield in order to flee the battlefield, and a slain warrior would be borne home atop his shield.

aut imiteris aut oderis

  • imitate or loathe it
  • description: Seneca the Younger, Epistulae morales ad Lucilium, 7:7. From the full phrase: “necesse est aut imiteris aut oderis” (“you must either imitate or loathe the world”).

aut neca aut necare

  • either kill or be killed
  • description: Also: “neca ne neceris” (“kill lest you be killed”)

aut simul stabunt aut simul cadent

  • they will either stand together or fall together
  • description: Said of two situations that can only occur simultaneously: if one ends, so does the other, and vice versa.[8]

aut viam inveniam aut faciam

  • I will either find a way or make one
  • description: Hannibal

aut vincere aut mori

  • either to conquer or to die
  • description: General pledge of victoria aut mors (“victory or death”). Motto of the Higgenbotham and Higginbottom families of Cheshire, England; participants in the War of the Roses. Also the motto for the United States 1st Fighter Wing, Langley Air Force Base in Virginia.

ave atque vale

  • hail and farewell
  • description: Catullus, Carmen 101, addressed to his deceased brother

ave Europa nostra vera patria

  • hail Europe, our true fatherland
  • description: Anthem of Imperium Europa

Ave Imperator, morituri te salutant

  • Hail, Emperor! Those who are about to die salute you!
  • description: From Suetonius’ The Twelve Caesars, Claudius 21. A salute and plea for mercy recorded on one occasion by naumachiarii–captives and criminals fated to die fighting during mock naval encounters. Later versions included a variant of “We who are about to die”, and this translation is sometimes aided by changing the Latin to nos morituri te salutamus.

Ave Maria

  • Hail, Mary
  • description: Roman Catholic prayer of intercession asking St. Mary, the Mother of Jesus Christ to pray for the petitioner


barba crescit caput nescit

  • beard grows, head doesn’t grow wiser

barba non facit philosophum

  • a beard doesn’t make one a philosopher

barba tenus sapientes

  • wise as far as the beard
  • description: Wise only in appearance. From Erasmus’s collection of Adages.

Beata Virgo Maria (BVM)

  • Blessed Virgin Mary
  • description: A common name in the Roman Catholic Church for Mary, the mother of Jesus. The genitive, Beatae Mariae Virginis (BMV), occurs often as well, appearing with such words as horae (hours), litaniae (litanies) and officium (office).

beatae memoriae

  • of blessed memory
  • description: See in memoriam

beati pauperes spiritu

  • blessed in spirit [are] the poor.
  • description: A Beatitude from Matthew 5:3 in the Vulgate: beati pauperes spiritu, quoniam ipsorum est regnum caelorum “Blessed in spirit [are] the poor, for theirs is the kingdom of the heavens”.

beati possidentes

  • blessed [are] those who possess
  • description: Translated from Euripides

beati qui ambulant lege domini

  • blessed are they who walk in the law of the Lord
  • description: Inscription above the entrance to St. Andrew’s Church (New York City), based on Psalm 119:1

beatus homo qui invenit sapientiam

  • blessed is the man who finds wisdom
  • description: From Proverbs 3:13; set to music in a 1577 motet of the same name by Orlando di Lasso.

Bella, mulier qui hominum allicit et accipit eos per fortis

  • war, a woman who lures men and takes them by force
  • description: Latin proverb[citation needed]

bella gerant alii

  • let others wage war
  • description: Originally from Ovid, Heroides 13.84,[1] where Laodamia is writing to her husband Protesilaus who is at the Trojan War. She begs him to stay out of danger, but he was in fact the first Greek to die at Troy. Also used of the Habsburg marriages of 1477 and 1496, written as bella gerant alii, tu felix Austria nube (let others wage war; you, happy Austria, marry). Said by King Matthias.

Protesilaus amet!

  • Protesilaus should love!

bella detesta matribus

  • war hateful to mothers
  • description: From Horace

bellum omnium contra omnes

  • war of all against all
  • description: A phrase used by Thomas Hobbes to describe the state of nature

bellum se ipsum alet

  • war feeds itself

Biblia pauperum

  • Paupers’ Bible
  • description: Tradition of biblical pictures displaying the essential facts of Christian salvation

bibo ergo sum

  • I drink, therefore I am
  • description: A play on “cogito ergo sum”, “I think therefore I am”

bis dat qui cito dat

  • he gives twice, who gives promptly
  • description: A gift given without hesitation is as good as two gifts.

bis in die (bid)

  • twice in a day
  • description: Medical shorthand for “twice a day”

bona fide

  • in good faith
  • description: In other words, “well-intentioned”, “fairly”. In modern contexts, often has connotations of “genuinely” or “sincerely”. Bona fides is not the plural (which would be bonis fidebus), but the nominative, and means simply “good faith”. Opposite of mala fide.

bona notabilia

  • note-worthy goods
  • description: In law, if a person dying has goods, or good debts, in another diocese or jurisdiction within that province, besides his goods in the diocese where he dies, amounting to a certain minimum value, he is said to have bona notabilia; in which case, the probat of his will belongs to the archbishop of that province.

bona officia

  • good services
  • description: A nation’s offer to mediate in disputes between two other nations

bona patria

  • goods of a country
  • description: A jury or assize of countrymen, or good neighbors

bona vacantia

  • vacant goods
  • description: United Kingdom legal term for ownerless property that passes to The Crown

boni pastoris est tondere pecus non deglubere

  • it is a good shepherd’s [job] to shear his flock, not to flay them
  • description: Tiberius reportedly said this to his regional commanders, as a warning against taxing the populace excessively.

bonum commune communitatis

  • common good of the community
  • description: Or “general welfare”. Refers to what benefits a society, as opposed to bonum commune hominis, which refers to what is good for an individual. In the film Hot Fuzz, this phrase is chanted by an assembled group of people, in which context it is deliberately similar to another phrase that is repeated throughout the film, which is The Greater Good.

bonum commune hominis

  • common good of a man
  • description: Refers to an individual’s happiness, which is not “common” in that it serves everyone, but in that individuals tend to be able to find happiness in similar things.

brutum fulmen

  • harmless (or inert) thunderbolt
  • description: Used to indicate either an empty threat, or a judgement at law which has no practical effect


cacatum non est pictum

  • That what’s shat, is not painted.
  • description: From Gottfried August Bürger’s Prinzessin Europa (line 60); popularised by Heinrich Heine’s Deutschland. Ein Wintermärchen (XI, 44); also the title of Joseph Haydn’s canon for four voices, Hob. XXVIIb:16; Ludwig van Beethoven set the text by Bürger as a three-voice canon, WoO 224. Contemporary critics applied this epithet to both of Turner’s Regulus (1828 and 1837).[1]

cacoethes scribendi

  • insatiable desire to write
  • description: Cacoēthes[2] “bad habit”, or medically, “malignant disease” is a borrowing of Greek kakoēthes.[3] The phrase is derived from a line in the Satires of Juvenal: Tenet insanabile multos scribendi cacoethes, or “the incurable desire (or itch) for writing affects many”. See hypergraphia.

cadavera vero innumera

  • truly countless bodies
  • description: Used by the Romans to describe the aftermath of the Battle of the Catalaunian Plains.

Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius.

  • Kill them all. For the Lord knows those who are his.
  • description: Supposed statement by Abbot Arnaud Amalric before the Massacre at Béziers during the Albigensian Crusade, recorded 30 years later, according to Caesarius of Heisterbach. cf. “Kill them all and let God sort them out.”

Caelum non animum mutant qui trans mare currunt

  • Those who hurry across the sea change the sky [upon them], not their souls or state of mind
  • description: Hexameter by Horace (Epistula XI).[4] Seneca shortens it to Animum debes mutare, non caelum (You must change [your] disposition, not [your] sky) in his Letter to Lucilium XXVIII, 1.

Caesar non supra grammaticos

  • Caesar has no authority over the grammarians
  • description: Political power is limited; it does not include power over grammar.[5]

caetera desunt

  • the rest is missing
  • description: Caetera is Medieval Latin spelling for cētera.

calix meus inebrians

  • my cup making me drunk

calamus gladio fortior

  • The pen is mightier than the sword

camera obscura

  • dark chamber
  • description: An optical device used in drawing, and an ancestor of modern photography. The source of the word camera.

Cane Nero magna bella Persica

  • Tell, oh Nero, of the great wars of Persia
  • description: Perfectly correct Latin sentence usually reported as funny from modern Italians because the same exact words, in today’s dialect of Rome, mean “A black dog eats a beautiful peach”, which has a ridiculously different meaning.

canes pugnaces

  • war dogs or fighting dogs

canis canem edit

  • dog eats dog
  • description: Refers to a situation where nobody is safe from anybody, each man for himself. Original name of the video game Bully.

capax Dei

  • capable of receiving God
  • description: From Augustine, De Trinitate XIV, 8.11: Mens eo ipso imago Dei est quo eius capax est,[6] “The mind is the image of God, in that it is capable of Him and can be partaker of Him.”

capax infiniti

  • holding the infinite
  • description: Capability of achieving goals by force of many instead of a single individual.

caput inter nubila (condit)

  • (she plunges) [her] head in the clouds
  • description: So aggrandized as to be beyond practical (earthly) reach or understanding (from Virgil’s Aeneid and the shorter form appears in John Locke’s Two Treatises of Government)

caput mortuum

  • dead head
  • description: Originally an alchemical reference to the dead head or worthless residue left over from a reaction. Also used to refer to a freeloader or worthless element.

Caritas Christi

  • The love of Christ
  • description: It implies a command to love as Christ loved. Motto of St. Francis Xavier High School located in West Meadowlark Park, Edmonton.

Caritas in veritate

  • Charity in Truth
  • description: Pope Benedict XVI’s third encyclical.

carpe diem

  • seize the day
  • description: An exhortation to live for today. From Horace, Odes I, 11.8. Carpere refers to plucking of flowers or fruit. The phrase collige virgo rosas has a similar sense.

carpe noctem

  • seize the night
  • description: An exhortation to make good use of the night, often used when carpe diem, q.v., would seem absurd, e.g., when observing a deep-sky object or conducting a Messier marathon or engaging in social activities after sunset.

carpe vinum

  • seize the wine

Carthago delenda est

  • Carthage must be destroyed
  • description: The Roman senator Cato the Elder ended every speech after the Second Punic War with ceterum censeo Carthaginem esse delendam, literally “For the rest, I am of the opinion that Carthage is to be destroyed.”

castigat ridendo mores

  • One corrects customs by laughing at them
  • description: Or, “[Comedy/Satire] criticises customs through humour”, is a phrase coined by French New Latin poet Jean-Baptiste de Santeul (1630–1697), but sometimes wrongly attributed to his contemporary Molière or to Roman lyric poet Horace.

casus belli

  • event of war
  • description: Refers to an incident that is the justification or case for war.

causa latet, vis est notissima

  • The cause is hidden, but the result is well known.
  • description: Ovid: Metamorphoses IV, 287; motto of Alpha Sigma Phi.

causa mortis

  • cause of death


  • beware!
  • description: especially used by Doctors of Medicine, when they want to warn each other (e.g.: “cave nephrolithiases” in order to warn about side effects of an uricosuric). Spoken aloud in some British public schools by pupils to warn each other of impending authority.

cave canem

  • Beware of the dog
  • description: Earliest written example is in the Satyricon of Petronius, circa 1st century C.E.

caveat emptor

  • let the buyer beware
  • description: The purchaser is responsible for checking whether the goods suit his need. Phrases modeled on this one replace emptor with lector, subscriptor, venditor, utilitor: “reader”, “signer”, “seller”, “user”.

caveat venditor

  • let the seller beware
  • description: It is a counter to caveat emptor and suggests that sellers can also be deceived in a market transaction. This forces the seller to take responsibility for the product and discourages sellers from selling products of unreasonable quality.

cedant arma togae

  • let arms yield to the gown
  • description: “Let military power yield to civilian power”, Cicero, De Officiis I:77. Former motto of the Territory of Wyoming. See also Toga#Roman_military.

celerius quam asparagi cocuntur

  • more swiftly than asparagus [stem]s are cooked
  • description: Or simply “faster than cooking asparagus”. A variant of the Roman phrase velocius quam asparagi coquantur, using a different adverb and an alternative mood and spelling of coquere.

cepi corpus

  • I have taken the body
  • description: In law, it is a return made by the sheriff, upon a capias, or other process to the like purpose; signifying, that he has taken the body of the party. See also habeas corpus.

certum est quod certum reddi potest

  • it is certain, whatever can be rendered certain
  • description: Or “… if it can be rendered certain.” Often used in law when something is not known, but can be ascertained (e.g. the purchase price on a sale which is to be determined by a third-party valuer)

cessante ratione legis cessat ipsa lex

  • when the reason for the law ceases, the law itself ceases
  • description: A rule of law becomes ineffective when the reason for its application has ceased to exist or does not correspond to the reality anymore. By Gratian.

cetera desunt

  • the rest are missing
  • description: Also spelled “caetera desunt”.

ceteris paribus

  • all other things being equal
  • description: That is, disregarding or eliminating extraneous factors in a situation.

charta pardonationis se defendendo

  • a paper of pardon to defend oneself
  • description: The form of a pardon for killing another man in self-defence (see manslaughter).

charta pardonationis utlagariae

  • a paper of pardon to the outlaw
  • description: The form of a pardon of a man who is outlawed. Also called perdonatio utlagariae.

Christianos ad leones

  • [Throw the] Christians to the lions!

Christo et Doctrinae

  • For Christ and Learning
  • description: The motto of Furman University.

Christus nos liberavit

  • Christ has freed us
  • description: title of volume I, book 5, chapter XI of Les Misérables by Victor Hugo.

Christus Rex

  • Christ the King
  • description: A Christian title for Jesus.

circa (c.) or (ca.)

  • around
  • description: In the sense of “approximately” or “about”. Usually used of a date.

circulus in probando

  • circle made in testing [a premise]
  • description: Circular reasoning. Similar term to circulus vitiosus.

circulus vitiosus

  • vicious circle
  • description: In logic, begging the question, a fallacy involving the presupposition of a proposition in one of the premises (see petitio principii). In science, a positive feedback loop. In economics, a counterpart to the virtuous circle.

civis romanus sum

  • I am (a) Roman citizen
  • description: Is a phrase used in Cicero’s In Verrem as a plea for the legal rights of a Roman citizen

clamea admittenda in itinere per atturnatum

  • description: A writ whereby the king of England could command the justice to admit one’s claim by an attorney, who being employed in the king’s service, cannot come in person.

clausum fregit

  • description: A legal action for trespass to land; so called, because the writ demands the person summoned to answer wherefore he broke the close (quare clausum fregit), i.e., why he entered the plaintiff’s land.

claves Sancti Petri

  • the keys of Saint Peter
  • description: A symbol of the Papacy.

clavis aurea

  • golden key
  • description: The means of discovering hidden or mysterious meanings in texts, particularly applied in theology and alchemy.

clerico admittendo

  • for being made a clerk
  • description: In law, a writ directed to the bishop, for the admitting a clerk to a benefice upon a ne admittas, tried, and found for the party who procures the writ.

clerico capto per statutum mercatorum

  • description: In law, a writ for the delivery of a clerk out of prison, who is imprisoned upon the breach of statute merchant.

clerico convicto commisso gaolae in defectu ordinarii deliberando

  • description: In law, a writ for the delivery of a clerk to his ordinary, that was formerly convicted of felony; by reason that his ordinary did not challenge him according to the privilege of clerks.

clerico intra sacros ordines constituto non eligendo in officium

  • description: In law, a writ directed to the bailiffs, etc., that have thrust a bailiwick or beadleship upon one in holy orders; charging them to release him.

Codex Iuris Canonici

  • Book of Canon Law
  • description: The official code of canon law in the Roman Catholic Church (cf. Corpus Iuris Canonici).

Cogitationis poenam nemo patitur

  • “No one suffers punishment for mere intent.”
  • description: A Latin legal phrase. See, State v Taylor, 47 Or 455, 84 P 82.

cogito ergo sum

  • I think, therefore I am.
  • description: A rationalistic argument used by French philosopher René Descartes to attempt to prove his own existence.

coitus interruptus

  • interrupted congress
  • description: Aborting sexual intercourse prior to ejaculation—the only permitted form of birth control in some religions.

coitus more ferarum

  • congress in the way of beasts
  • description: A medical euphemism for the doggy-style sexual position.

collige virgo rosas

  • pick, girl, the roses
  • description: Exhortation to enjoy fully the youth, similar to Carpe diem, from “De rosis nascentibus” (also titled “Idyllium de rosis”), attributed to Ausonius or Virgil.[7]

combinatio nova

  • new combination
  • description: It is frequently abbreviated comb. nov.. It is used in the life sciences literature when a new name is introduced, e.g. Klebsiella granulomatis comb. nov..

communibus annis

  • in common years
  • description: One year with another; on an average. “Common” here does not mean “ordinary”, but “common to every situation”

communibus locis

  • in common places
  • description: A term frequently used among philosophical and other writers, implying some medium, or mean relation between several places; one place with another; on a medium. “Common” here does not mean “ordinary”, but “common to every situation”

communis opinio

  • common opinion
  • description: prevailing doctrine, generally accepted view (in an academic field), scientific consensus; originally communis opinio doctorum, “common opinion of the doctors”

compos mentis

  • in control of the mind
  • description: Describes someone of sound mind. Sometimes used ironically. Also a legal principle, non compos mentis (not in control of one’s faculties), used to describe an insane person.

condemnant quod non intellegunt

  • They condemn what they do not understand or
  • description: The quod here is ambiguous: it may be the relative pronoun or a conjunction.
  • They condemn because they do not understand

condicio sine qua non

  • condition without which not
  • description: A required, indispensable condition. Commonly mistakenly rendered with conditio (“seasoning” or “preserving”) in place of condicio (“arrangement” or “condition”).

confer (cf.)[8][9]

  • compare
  • description: The abbreviation cf. is used in text to suggest a comparison with something else (cf. citation signal).

Congregatio Sanctissimi Redemptoris C.Ss.R

  • Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer
  • description: Redemptorists

coniunctis viribus

  • with connected strength
  • description: Or “with united powers”. Sometimes rendered conjunctis viribus. Motto of Queen Mary, University of London.


  • with consent

consuetudo pro lege servatur

  • Custom is held as law.
  • description: Where there are no specific laws, the matter should be decided by custom;[10] established customs have the force of laws.[11] Also consuetudo est altera lex (custom is another law) and consuetudo vincit communem legem (custom overrules the common law); see also: Consuetudinary.

consummatum est

  • It is completed.
  • description: The last words of Jesus on the cross in the Latin translation of John 19:30.

contemptus mundi/saeculi

  • scorn for the world/times
  • description: Despising the secular world. The monk or philosopher’s rejection of a mundane life and worldly values.

contra bonos mores

  • against good morals
  • description: Offensive to the conscience and to a sense of justice.

contra legem

  • against the law
  • description: Especially in civil law jurisdictions, said of an understanding of a statute that directly contradicts its wording and thus is neither valid by interpretation nor by analogy.

contra proferentem

  • against the proferror
  • description: In contract law, the doctrine of contractual interpretation which provides that an ambiguous term will be construed against the party that imposed its inclusion in the contract – or, more accurately, against the interests of the party who imposed it.

contra spem spero

  • I hope against hope
  • description: Title of a poem by Lesya Ukrainka; it derives from an expression found in Paul’s Letter to the Romans 4:18 (Greek: παρ’ ἐλπίδα ἐπ’ ἐλπίδι) with reference to Abraham the Patriarch who maintained faith in becoming the father of many nations despite being childless and well-advanced in years.

contra vim mortis non crescit herba (or salvia) in hortis

  • No herb (or sage) grows in the gardens against the power of death
  • description: there is no medicine against death; from various medieval medicinal texts

contradictio in terminis

  • contradiction in terms
  • description: A thing or idea that would embody a contradiction, for example, payment for a gift, or a circle with corners. The fallacy of proposing such a thing.

contra principia negantem non est disputandum

  • there can be no debate with those who deny the foundations
  • description: Debate is fruitless when you don’t agree on common rules, facts, presuppositions.

cor ad cor loquitur

  • heart speaks to heart
  • description: From Augustine’s Confessions, referring to a prescribed method of prayer: having a “heart to heart” with God. Commonly used in reference to a later quote by Cardinal John Henry Newman. A motto of Newman Clubs.

cor aut mors

  • Heart or Death
  • description: (Your choice is between) The Heart (Moral Values, Duty, Loyalty) or Death (to no longer matter, to no longer be respected as person of integrity.)

cor meum tibi offero domine prompte et sincere

  • my heart I offer to you Lord promptly and sincerely
  • description: John Calvin’s personal motto, also adopted by Calvin College

cor unum

  • one heart
  • description: A popular school motto. Often used as names for religious and other organisations such as the Pontifical Council Cor Unum.

coram Deo

  • in the presence of God
  • description: A phrase from Christian theology which summarizes the idea of Christians living in the presence of, under the authority of, and to the honor and glory of God; see also coram Deo (disambiguation).

coram nobis, coram vobis

  • in our presence, in your presence
  • description: Two kinds of writs of error.

coram populo

  • in the presence of the people
  • description: Thus, openly.

coram publico

  • in view of the public

Corpus Christi

  • Body of Christ
  • description: The name of a feast in the Roman Catholic Church commemorating the Eucharist. It is also the name of a city in Texas, Corpus Christi, Texas, the name of Colleges at Oxford and Cambridge universities, and a controversial play.

corpus delicti

  • body of the offence
  • description: The fact that a crime has been committed, a necessary factor in convicting someone of having committed that crime; if there was no crime, there can not have been a criminal.

Corpus Iuris Canonici

  • Body of Canon Law
  • description: The official compilation of canon law in the Roman Catholic Church (cf. Codex Iuris Canonici).

Corpus Iuris Civilis

  • Body of Civil Law
  • description: The body of Roman or civil law.

corpus vile

  • worthless body
  • description: A person or thing fit only to be the object of an experiment, as in the phrase ‘Fiat experimentum in corpore vili.’


  • things to be corrected

corruptio optimi pessima

  • the corruption of the best is the worst

corruptissima re publica plurimae leges

  • When the republic is at its most corrupt the laws are most numerous
  • description: Tacitus

corvus oculum corvi non eruit

  • a raven does not pick out an eye of another raven

cras amet qui nunquam amavit; quique amavit, cras amet

  • May he who has never loved before, love tomorrow; And may he who has loved, love tomorrow as well
  • description: The refrain from the ‘Pervigilium Veneris’, a poem which describes a three-day holiday in the cult of Venus, located somewhere in Sicily, involving the whole town in religious festivities joined with a deep sense of nature and Venus as the “procreatrix”, the life-giving force behind the natural world.

cras es noster

  • Tomorrow, be ours
  • description: As “The Future is Ours”, motto of San Jacinto College, Texas

creatio ex nihilo

  • creation out of nothing
  • description: A concept about creation, often used in a theological or philosophical context. Also known as the ‘First Cause’ argument in philosophy of religion. Contrasted with creatio ex materia.

Credo in Unum Deum

  • I Believe in One God
  • description: The first words of the Nicene Creed and the Apostles’ Creed.

credo quia absurdum est

  • I believe it because it is absurd
  • description: A very common misquote of Tertullian’s et mortuus est Dei Filius prorsus credibile quia ineptum est (and the Son of God is dead: in short, it is credible because it is unfitting), meaning that it is so absurd to say that God’s son has died that it would have to be a matter of belief, rather than reason. The misquoted phrase, however, is commonly used to mock the dogmatic beliefs of the religious (see fideism). This phrase is commonly shortened to credo quia absurdum, and is also sometimes rendered credo quia impossibile est (I believe it because it is impossible) or, as Darwin used it in his autobiography, credo quia incredibile.

credo ut intelligam

  • I believe so that I may understand
  • description: A motto of St Anselm, used as the motto of St. Anselm Hall, Manchester

crescit eundo

  • it grows as it goes
  • description: From Lucretius’ De rerum natura book VI, where it refers in context to the motion of a thunderbolt across the sky, which acquires power and momentum as it goes. This metaphor was adapted as the state motto of New Mexico (adopted in 1887 as the territory’s motto, and kept in 1912 when New Mexico received statehood) and is seen on the seal. Also the motto of Rocky Mount, Virginia.

cucullus non facit monachum

  • The hood does not make the monk
  • description: William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night, Scene I, Act V 48–50

cui bono

  • Good for whom?
  • description: “Who benefits?” An adage in criminal investigation which suggests that considering who would benefit from an unwelcome event is likely to reveal who is responsible for that event (cf. cui prodest). Also the motto of the Crime Syndicate of America, a fictional supervillain group. The opposite is cui malo (Bad for whom?).

cui prodest

  • for whom it advances
  • description: Short for cui prodest scelus is fecit (for whom the crime advances, he has done it) in Seneca’s Medea. Thus, the murderer is often the one who gains by the murder (cf. cui bono).

cuique suum

  • to each his own

cuius est solum, eius est usque ad coelum et ad inferos

  • Whose the land is, all the way to the sky and to the underworld is his.
  • description: First coined by Accursius of Bologna in the 13th century. A Roman legal principle of property law that is no longer observed in most situations today. Less literally, “For whosoever owns the soil, it is theirs up to the sky and down to the depths.”

cuius regio, eius religio

  • whose region, his religion
  • description: The privilege of a ruler to choose the religion of his subjects. A regional prince’s ability to choose his people’s religion was established at the Peace of Augsburg in 1555.

cuiusvis hominis est errare, nullius nisi insipientis in errore perseverare.

  • Anyone can err, but only the fool persists in his fault
  • description: Cicero, Philippica XII, 5.


  • fault
  • description: Also “blame” or “guilt”. In law, an act of neglect. In general, guilt, sin, or a fault. See also mea culpa.

cum gladiis et fustibus

  • with swords and clubs
  • description: From the Bible. Occurs in Matthew 26:47 and Luke 22:52.

cum grano salis

  • with a grain of salt
  • description: Not to be taken too seriously or as the literal truth.

cum hoc ergo propter hoc

  • with this, therefore on account of this
  • description: Fallacy of assuming that correlation implies causation.

cum laude

  • with praise
  • description: The standard formula for academic Latin honors in the United States. Greater honors include magna cum laude and summa cum laude.

cum mortuis in lingua mortua

  • with the dead in a dead language
  • description: Movement from Pictures at an Exhibition by Modest Mussorgsky

cum privilegio ad imprimendum solum

  • with the exclusive right to print
  • description: Copyright notice used in 16th-century England, used for comic effect in The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare

cupio dissolvi

  • desire to be dissolved
  • description: From the Bible, locution indicating a will to death (“I want to die”).

cur Deus Homo

  • Why the God-Man
  • description: The question attributed to Anselm in his work of by this name, wherein he reflects on why the Christ of Christianity must be both fully Divine and fully Human. Often translated “why did God become Man?”

cura te ipsum

  • take care of your own self
  • description: An exhortation to physicians, or experts in general, to deal with their own problems before addressing those of others.

curriculum vitae

  • course of life
  • description: An overview of a person’s life and qualifications, similar to a résumé.

custos morum

  • keeper of morals
  • description: A censor.

cygnus inter anates

  • swan among ducks


da Deus fortunae

  • O God, give fortune/happiness
  • description: A traditional greeting of Czech brewers.

da mihi factum, dabo tibi ius

  • Give me the fact, I will give you the law
  • description: Also da mihi facta, dabo tibi ius (plural “facta” (facts) for the singular “factum”). A legal principle of Roman law that parties to a suit should present the facts and the judge will rule on the law that governs them. Related to iura novit curia (the court knows the law).

damnant quod non intellegunt

  • They condemn what they do not understand
  • description: Paraphrase of Quintilianus, De Institutione Oratoria, Book 10, Chapter 1, 26:

damnatio ad bestias

  • condemnation to [the] beasts
  • description: Colloquially, “thrown to the lions”.

damnatio memoriae

  • damnation of memory
  • description: The ancient Roman custom by which it was pretended that disgraced Romans, especially former emperors), never existed, by eliminating all records and likenesses of them.

damnum absque injuria

  • damage without injury
  • description: Meaning a loss that results from no one’s wrongdoing. In Roman law, a person is not responsible for unintended, consequential injury to another that results from a lawful act. This protection does not necessarily apply to unintended damage caused by one’s negligence or folly.

deus dat incrementum

data venia

  • with due respect / given the excuse
  • description: Used before disagreeing with someone.

de bene esse

  • as well done
  • description: In law, a de bene esse deposition is used to preserve the testimony of a witness who is expected not to be available to appear at trial and be cross-examined.

de bonis asportatis

  • carrying goods away
  • description: In law, trespass de bonis asportatis was the traditional name for larceny, i.e., the unlawful theft of chattels (moveable goods).

de dato

  • of the date
  • description: Used, e.g., in “as we agreed in the meeting d.d. 26th May 2006”.

de facto

  • by deed
  • description: Said of something that is the actual state of affairs, in contrast to something’s legal or official standing, which is described as de jure. De facto refers to “the way things really are” rather than what is officially presented as the fact of the matter in question.

de fideli

  • with faithfulness
  • description: A clerk of a court makes this declaration when he is appointed, by which he promises to perform his duties faithfully as a servant of the court.

de fideli administratione

  • of faithful administration
  • description: Describes an oath taken to faithfully administer the duties of a job or office, like that taken by a court reporter.[1]

de futuro

  • regarding the future
  • description: Usually used in the context of “at a future time”.

de gustibus non est disputandum

  • Of tastes there is nothing to be disputed
  • description: Less literally, “there is no accounting for taste”, because they are judged subjectively and not objectively: everyone has his own and none deserve preeminence. The complete phrase is “de gustibus et coloribus non est disputandum” (“when we talk about tastes and colours there is nothing to be disputed”). Probably of Scholastic origin; see Wiktionary.

de integro

  • again, a second time

de jure

  • by law
  • description: “Official”, in contrast with de facto; analogous to “in principle”, whereas de facto is to “in practice”. In other contexts, it can mean “according to law”, “by right”, and “legally”.

de lege ferenda

  • of/from law to be passed

de lege lata

  • of/from law passed / of/from law in force

de minimis non curat lex

  • The law does not care about the smallest things.
  • description: A court does not care about small, trivial things. A case must have some importance in order for a court to hear it. See “de minimis non curat praetor”.

de minimis non curat praetor

  • The commander does not care about the smallest things.
  • description: Also, “the chief magistrate does not concern himself with trifles.” Trivial matters are no concern of a high official; cf. aquila non capit muscas (the eagle does not catch flies). Sometimes rex (king) or lex (law) is used in place of praetor. De minimis is a legal phrase referring to things unworthy of the law’s attention.

de mortuis aut bene aut nihil

  • about the dead, either well or nothing
  • description: Less literally, “speak well of the dead or not at all”; cf. de mortuis nil nisi bonum.

de mortuis nil nisi bonum

  • about the dead, nothing unless a good thing
  • description: From de mortuis nil nisi bonum dicendum est (“nothing must be said about the dead except the good”), attributed by Diogenes Laërtius to Chilon. In legal contexts, this quotation is used with the opposite meaning: defamation of a deceased person is not a crime. In other contexts, it refers to taboos against criticizing the recently deceased.

de nobis fabula narratur

  • About us is the story told
  • description: Thus: “their story is our story”. Originally it referred to the end of Rome’s dominance. Now often used when comparing any current situation to a past story or event.

de novo

  • from the new
  • description: “Anew” or “afresh”. In law, a trial de novo is a retrial. In biology, de novo means newly synthesized, and a de novo mutation is a mutation that neither parent possessed or transmitted. In economics, de novo refers to newly founded companies, and de novo banks are state banks that have been in operation for five years or less. (Cf. ex novo)

de omni re scibili et quibusdam aliis

  • about every knowable thing, and even certain other things
  • description: The Italian scholar Giovanni Pico della Mirandola of the 15th century wrote the De omni re scibili (“concerning every knowable thing”) part, and a wag added et quibusdam aliis (“and even certain other things”).

de omnibus dubitandum

  • Be suspicious of everything / doubt everything
  • description: Attributed to the French philosopher René Descartes. It was also Karl Marx’s favorite motto and a title of one of Søren Kierkegaard’s works, namely, De Omnibus Dubitandum Est.

de oppresso liber

  • free from having been oppressed
  • description: Loosely, “to liberate the oppressed”. Motto of the United States Army Special Forces.[2]

de profundis

  • from the depths
  • description: Meaning from out of the depths of misery or dejection. From the Latin translation of the Vulgate Bible of Psalm 130, of which it is a traditional title in Roman Catholic liturgy.

de re

  • about/regarding the matter
  • description: In logic, de dicto statements regarding the truth of a proposition are distinguished from de re statements regarding the properties of a thing itself.

decessit sine prole

  • died without issue
  • description: Used in genealogical records, often abbreviated as d.s.p., to indicate a person who died without having had any children.

decessit sine prole legitima

  • died without legitimate issue
  • description: Used in genealogical records, often abbreviated as d.s.p.l., to indicate a person who died without having had any children with a spouse.

decessit sine prole mascula legitima

  • died without legitimate male issue
  • description: Used in genealogical records in cases of nobility or other hereditary titles, often abbreviated as d.s.p.m.l. or d.s.p.m. legit, to indicate a person who died without having had any legitimate male children (indicating there were illegitimate male children)

decessit sine prole mascula superstite

  • died without surviving male issue
  • description: Used in genealogical records, often abbreviated as d.s.p.m., to indicate a person who died without having had any male children who survived, i.e., outlived, him.

decessit sine prole superstite

  • died without surviving issue
  • description: Used in genealogical records, often abbreviated as d.s.p.s., to indicate a person who died without having had any children who survived, i.e., outlived him.

decessit vita matris

  • died in the lifetime of the mother
  • description: Used in genealogical records, often abbreviated as d.v.m., to indicate a person who predeceased his mother.

decessit vita patris

  • died in the lifetime of the father
  • description: Used in genealogical records, often abbreviated as d.v.p., to indicate a person who predeceased his father.

decus et tutamen

  • an ornament and a safeguard
  • description: A phrase from the Aeneid of Virgil. Inscription on British one-pound coins. Originally inscribed on coins of the 17th century, it refers to the inscribed edge of the coin as a protection against the clipping of its precious metal.

defendit numerus

  • There is safety in numbers

Defensor Fortis

  • Defender of the Force
  • description: Official motto of the United States Air Force Security Forces (Security Police).

Dei gratia

  • By the grace of God
  • description: Part of the full style of a monarch historically considered to be ruling by divine right, notably in the style of the English and British monarch since 1521

Dei gratia regina

  • By the Grace of God, Queen
  • description: Also Dei gratia rex (“By the Grace of God, King”). Abbreviated as D G REG preceding Fidei Defensor (F D) on British pound coins, and as D G Regina on Canadian coins.

delectatio morosa

  • peevish delight
  • description: In Catholic theology, pleasure taken in a sinful thought or imagination, such as brooding on sexual images. As voluntary and complacent erotic fantasizing, without attempt to suppress such thoughts, it is distinct from actual sexual desire.

delegata potestas non potest delegari

  • Delegated powers can not be [further] delegated
  • description: A legal principle whereby one to whom certain powers were delegated may not ipso facto re-delegate them to another. A distinction may be had between delegated powers and the additional power to re-delegate them.

delirant isti Romani

  • They are mad, those Romans[!]
  • description: A Latin translation of René Goscinny’s phrase in French ils sont fous, ces romains! or Italian Sono pazzi questi Romani. Cf. SPQR, which Obelix frequently used in the Asterix comics.

Deo gratias

  • Thanks [be] to God
  • description: A frequent phrase in the Roman Catholic liturgy, used especially after the recitation of a lesson, the Last Gospel at Mass or as a response to Ite Missa Est / Benedicamus Domino.

Deo optimo maximo (DOM)

  • To the best and greatest God
  • description: Derived from the pagan Iupiter optimo maximo (“to the best and greatest Jupiter”). Printed on bottles of Bénédictine liqueur.

Deo volente

  • God willing
  • description: This was often used in conjunction with a signature at the end of letters. It was used in order to signify that “God willing” this letter will get to you safely, “God willing” the contents of this letter come true. As an abbreviation (simply “D.V.”) it is often found in personal letters (in English) of the early 1900s, employed to generally and piously qualify a given statement about a future planned action, that it will be carried out, so long as God wills (see James 4:13-15, which encourages this way of speaking). The motto of Southern Illinois University-Carbondale.

descensus in cuniculi cavum

  • The descent into the cave of the rabbit
  • description: Down the rabbit hole. See Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland#Famous lines and expressions.

desiderantes meliorem patriam

  • they desired a better land
  • description: From Hebrews 11: 16. Adopted as the motto of the Order of Canada.

Deus caritas est

  • God Is Love
  • description: Title and first words of the first encyclical of Pope Benedict XVI. For other meanings see Deus caritas est (disambiguation).

deus ex machina

  • a god from a machine
  • description: From the Greek ἀπὸ μηχανῆς θεός (apò mēchanēs theós). A contrived or artificial solution, usually to a literary plot. Refers to the practice in Greek drama of lowering by crane (the mechanê) an actor playing a god or goddess onto the stage to resolve an insuperable conflict in the plot. The device is most commonly associated with Euripides.

Deus lux mea est

  • God is my light
  • description: The motto of The Catholic University of America.

Deus meumque jus

  • God and my right
  • description: The principal motto of Scottish Rite Freemasonry. See also Dieu et mon droit.

Deus otiosus

  • God at leisure

Deus spes nostra

  • God is our hope
  • description: The motto of Sir Thomas de Boteler, founder of Boteler Grammar School in Warrington in 1526.

Deus vult

  • God wills it
  • description: The principal slogan of the Crusades. Motto of Bergen Catholic High School in New Jersey, United States.

dictatum erat (dict)

  • as previously stated
  • description: A recent academic substitution for the spacious and inconvenient phrase “as previously stated”. Literally, has been stated. Compare also “dicta prius”; literally, said previously.

dicto simpliciter

  • [from] a maxim, simply
  • description: I.e. “from a rule without exception.” Short for a dicto simpliciter, the a is often dropped because it is confused with the English indefinite article. A dicto simpliciter occurs when an acceptable exception is ignored or eliminated. For example, the appropriateness of using opiates is contingent on suffering extreme pain. To justify the recreational use of opiates by referring to a cancer patient or to justify arresting said patient by comparing him to the recreational user would be a dicto simpliciter.

diem perdidi

  • I have lost the day
  • description: From the Roman Emperor Titus. Recorded in the biography of him by Suetonius in Lives of the Twelve Caesars.

dies irae

  • Day of wrath
  • description: Reference to the Judgment Day in Christian eschatology. The title of a famous Medieval Latin hymn by Tommaso da Celano in the 13th century and used in the Requiem Mass.

dies non juridicum

  • Day without judiciary
  • description: Days under common law (traditionally Sunday), during which no legal process can be served and any legal judgment is invalid. The English Parliament first codified this precept in the reign of King Charles II.

Dies tenebrosa sicut nox

  • a day as dark as night
  • description: First entry in Annales Cambriae, for the year 447.[3]


  • I direct
  • description: In Classical Latin, “I arrange”. Motto of the State of Maine, United States; based on a comparison of the State to the star Polaris.

dis aliter visum

  • It seemed otherwise to the gods
  • description: In other words, the gods have ideas different to those of mortals, and so events do not always occur in the way persons wish them to. Confer Virgil, Aeneid, 2: 428. Also confer “Man proposes and God disposes” and “My Thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways”, Isaiah 55, 8-9.

dis manibus sacrum (D.M.S.)

  • Sacred to the ghost-gods
  • description: Refers to the Manes, i.e. Roman spirits of the dead. Loosely, “to the memory of”. A conventional pagan inscription preceding the name of the deceased on his tombstone; often shortened to dis manibus (D.M.), “for the ghost-gods”. Preceded in some earlier monuments by hic situs est (H. S. E.), “he lies here”.

disce ut semper victurus, vive ut cras moriturus

  • Learn as if always going to live; live as if tomorrow going to die.
  • description: Attributed to St. Edmund of Abingdon. First seen in Isidoro de Sevilla

discendo discimus

  • while learning we learn
  • description: See also docendo…(2).

disiecta membra

  • scattered limbs
  • description: I.e., “scattered remains”. Paraphrased from Horace, Satires, 1, 4, 62, where it is written “disiecti membra poetae” (limbs of a scattered poet).

divide et impera

  • divide and rule / “divide and conquer”
  • description: A Roman maxim adopted by Roman Dictator Julius Caesar, King Louis XI of France and the Italian political author Niccolò Machiavelli.


  • I have spoken
  • description: A popular, eloquent expression, usually used in the end of a speech. The implied meaning is that the speaker has said all that he had to say and thus his argument is completed.

[“…”, …] dixit

  • [“…”, …] said
  • description: Used to attribute a statement or opinion to its author, rather than the speaker.

do ut des

  • I give that you may give
  • description: Often said or written of sacrifices, in which one “gives” and expects a return from the gods.

docendo discitur

  • It is learned by teaching / one learns by teaching
  • description: Attributed to Seneca the Younger.

docendo disco, scribendo cogito

  • I learn by teaching, I think by writing

dolus specialis

  • special intent
  • description: “The … concept is particular to a few civil law systems and cannot sweepingly be equated with the notions of ‘special’ or ‘specific intent’ in common law systems. Of course, the same might equally be said of the concept of ‘specific intent’, a notion used in the common law almost exclusively within the context of the defense of voluntary intoxication.” (Genocide scholar William A. Schabas)[4]

Domine salvum fac regem

  • O Lord, save the king
  • description: Psalm 20, 10.

Domine salvam fac reginam

  • O Lord, save the queen
  • description: After Psalm 20, 10.

Dominica in albis [depositis]

  • Sunday in [Setting Aside the] White Garments
  • description: Latin name of the Octave of Easter in the Roman Catholic liturgy.

Dominus vobiscum

  • The Lord be with you.
  • description: A phrase used in the Roman Catholic liturgy, and sometimes in its sermons and homilies, and a general form of greeting among and towards members of Catholic organizations. See also Pax vobiscum.

dona nobis pacem

  • give us peace
  • description: Often set to music, either by itself or as the final phrase of the Agnus Dei prayer of the Holy Mass. Also an ending in the video game Haunting Ground.

donatio mortis causa

  • a donation in expectation of death
  • description: A legal concept in which a person in imminent mortal danger need not satisfy the otherwise requisite consideration to effect a testamentary donation, i.e., a donation by instituting or modifying a will.

dramatis personae

  • the parts/characters of the play
  • description: More literally, “the masks of the drama”; the cast of characters of a dramatic work.

duae tabulae rasae in quibus nihil scriptum est

  • two blank slates with nothing written upon them
  • description: Stan Laurel, inscription for the fan club logo of The Sons of the Desert.

ducunt volentem fata, nolentem trahunt

  • the fates lead the willing and drag the unwilling
  • description: Attributed to Lucius Annaeus Seneca (Sen. Ep. 107.11).

dulce bellum inexpertis

  • war is sweet to the inexperienced
  • description: Meaning: “war may seem pleasant to those who have never been involved in it, though the experienced know better”. Erasmus of Rotterdam.

dulce est desipere in loco

  • It is sweet on occasion to play the fool. / It is pleasant to relax once in a while.
  • description: Horace, Odes 4, 12, 28. Also used by George Knapton for the portrait of Sir Bourchier Wrey, 6th Baronet in 1744.

dulce et decorum est pro patria mori

  • It is sweet and honorable to die for the fatherland.
  • description: Horace, Odes 3, 2, 13. Also used by Wilfred Owen for the title of a poem regarding World War I, Dulce et Decorum Est.

dulce et utile

  • a sweet and useful thing / pleasant and profitable
  • description: Horace, Ars Poetica: poetry must be dulce et utile, i.e., both enjoyable and instructive.

dulce periculum

  • danger is sweet
  • description: Horace, Odes, 3 25, 16. Motto of the Scottish clan MacAulay.

dum Roma deliberat Saguntum perit

  • while Rome debates, Saguntum is in danger
  • description: Used when someone has been asked for urgent help, but responds with no immediate action. Similar to Hannibal ante portas, but referring to a less personal danger.

dum spiro spero

  • while I breathe, I hope
  • description: Cicero. Motto of the State of South Carolina. Motto of the Clan MacLennan.

dum vita est, spes est

  • while there is life, there is hope

dum vivimus, vivamus

  • while we live, let us live
  • description: An encouragement to embrace life. Motto inscribed on the sword of the main character of the novel Glory Road.

dura lex sed lex

  • [the] law [is] harsh, but [it is the] law
  • description: Ulpian, Digesta Iustiniani, Roman jurist of the 3rd century CE.

dura mater

  • tough mother
  • description: The outer covering of the brain.

durante bene placito

  • during good pleasure
  • description: Meaning: “serving at the pleasure of the authority or officer who appointed”. A Mediaeval legal Latin phrase.

durante munere

  • while in office
  • description: For example, the Governor General of Canada is durante munere the Chancellor and Principal Companion of the Order of Canada.

dux bellorum

  • war leader

initium sapientiae timor Domini

  • The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
  • description: A quotation of Psalm 111:10. Motto of the University of Aberdeen, Scotland.


e causa ignota

  • of unknown cause
  • description: Often used in medicine when the underlying disease causing a symptom is not known. See also idiopathic.

E pluribus unum

  • out of many, one
  • description: Literally, out of more (than one), one. The former national motto of the United States, which “In God We Trust” later replaced; therefore, it is still inscribed on many US coins and on the United States Capitol. Also the motto of S.L. Benfica. Less commonly written as ex pluribus unum.

ecce ancilla domini

  • behold the handmaiden of the Lord
  • description: From Luke 1:38 in the Vulgate Bible. Name of an oil painting by Dante Gabriel Rossetti and motto of Bishopslea Preparatory School.

ecce homo

  • behold the man
  • description: From the Gospel of John in the Vulgate 19:5 (Douay-Rheims), where Pontius Pilate speaks these words as he presents Christ, crowned with thorns, to the crowd. It is also the title of Nietzsche’s autobiography and of the theme music by Howard Goodall for the ITV comedy Mr. Bean, in which the full sung lyric is Ecce homo qui est faba (“Behold the man who is a bean”).

ecce panis angelorum

  • behold the bread of angels
  • description: From the Catholic hymn Lauda Sion; occasionally inscribed near the altar of Catholic churches; it refers to the Eucharist, the Bread of Heaven; the Body of Christ. See also: Panis angelicus.

editio princeps

  • first edition
  • description: The first published edition of a work.

ejusdem generis

  • of the same kinds, class, or nature
  • description: From the canons of statutory interpretation in law. When more general descriptors follow a list of many specific descriptors, the otherwise wide meaning of the general descriptors is interpreted as restricted to the same class, if any, of the preceding specific descriptors.

ego te absolvo

  • I absolve you
  • description: Part of the formula of Catholic sacramental absolution, i. e., spoken by a priest as part of the Sacrament of Penance (see also absolvo).

ego te provoco

  • I challenge you
  • description: Used as a challenge; “I dare you”. Can also be written as te provoco.

eheu fugaces labuntur anni

  • Alas, the fleeting years slip by
  • description: From Horace’s Odes, 2, 14.

eluceat omnibus lux

  • let the light shine out from all
  • description: The motto of Sidwell Friends School.


  • veteran
  • description: Retired from office. Often used to denote an office held at the time of one’s retirement, as an honorary title, e. g. professor emeritus and provost emeritus. Inclusion in one’s title does not necessarily denote that the honorand is inactive in the pertinent office.

emollit mores nec sinit esse feros

  • a faithful study of the liberal arts humanizes character and permits it not to be cruel
  • description: From Ovid, Epistulae ex Ponto (II, 9, 48). Motto of University of South Carolina.

ens causa sui

  • existing because of oneself
  • description: Or “being one’s own cause”. Traditionally, a being that owes its existence to no other being, hence God or a Supreme Being (see also Primum Mobile).

entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem

  • entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity
  • description: Occam’s Razor or Law of Parsimony; arguments which do not introduce extraneous variables are to be preferred in logical argumentation.

entitas ipsa involvit aptitudinem ad extorquendum certum assensum

  • reality involves a power to compel certain assent
  • description: A phrase used in modern Western philosophy on the nature of truth.

eo ipso

  • by that very (act)
  • description: Technical term in philosophy and law. Similar to ipso facto. Example: “The fact that I am does not eo ipso mean that I think.” From the Latin ablative form of id ipsum (“that thing itself”).

eo nomine

  • by that name

equo ne credite

  • do not trust the horse
  • description: From Virgil, Aeneid, II. 48–49; a reference to the Trojan Horse.

erga omnes

  • in relation to everyone
  • description: Used in law, especially international law, to denote a kind of universal obligation.


  • therefore
  • description: Denotes a logical conclusion (see also cogito ergo sum).

errare humanum est

  • to err is human
  • description: Sometimes attributed to Seneca the Younger, but not attested: Errare humanum est, perseverare autem diabolicum, et tertia non datur (To err is human; to persist [in committing such errors] is of the devil, and the third possibility is not given.) Several authors contemplated the idea before Seneca: Livy, Venia dignus error is humanus (Storie, VIII, 35) and Cicero: is Cuiusvis errare: insipientis nullius nisi, in errore perseverare (Anyone can err, but only the fool persists in his fault) (Philippicae, XII, 2, 5). Cicero, being well-versed in ancient Greek, may well have been alluding to Euripides’ play Hippolytus some four centuries earlier.[1] 300 years later Saint Augustine of Hippo recycled the idea in his Sermones, 164, 14: Humanum fuit errare, diabolicum est per animositatem in errore manere.[2] The phrase gained currency in the English language after Alexander Pope’s An Essay on Criticism of 1711: “To err is human, to forgive divine” (line 325).


  • error
  • description: I. e., mistake. Lists of errors in a previous edition of a work are often marked with the plural errata (“errors”).

errantis voluntas nulla est

  • the will of a mistaken party is void
  • description: Roman legal principle formulated by Pomponius in the Digest of the Corpus Juris Civilis, stating that legal actions undertaken by man under the influence of error are invalid.

esse quam videri

  • to be, rather than to seem
  • description: Truly being a thing, rather than merely seeming to be a thing. The motto of many institutions. From Cicero, De amicitia (On Friendship), Chapter 26. Prior to Cicero, Sallust used the phrase in Bellum Catilinae, 54, 6, writing that Cato esse quam videri bonus malebat (“preferred to be good, rather than to seem so”). Earlier still, Aeschylus used a similar phrase in Seven Against Thebes, line 592: ou gar dokein aristos, all’ enai thelei (“he wishes not to seem the best, but to be the best”).

est modus in rebus

  • there is measure in things
  • description: there is a middle or mean in things, there is a middle way or position; from Horace, Satires 1.1.106; see also: Golden mean (philosophy). According to Potempski and Galmarini (Atmos. Chem. Phys., 9, 9471-9489, 2009) the sentence should be translated as: “There is an optimal condition in all things”, which in the original text is followed by sunt certi denique fines quos ultra citraque nequit consistere rectum (“There are therefore precise boundaries beyond which one cannot find the right thing”).

esto perpetua

  • may it be perpetual
  • description: Said of Venice, Italy, by the Venetian historian Fra Paolo Sarpi shortly before his death. Motto of the US state of Idaho, adopted in 1867; of S. Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia, Sri Lanka; of Sigma Phi Society.

et adhuc sub iudice lis est

  • it is still before the court
  • description: From Horace, Ars Poetica (The Art of Poetry) 1.78.

et alibi (et al.)

  • and elsewhere
  • description: A less common variant on et cetera (“and the rest”) used at the end of a list of locations to denote unenumerated/omitted ones.

et alii (et al.)

  • and others
  • description: Used similarly to et cetera (“and the rest”) to denote names that, usually for the sake of space, are unenumerated/omitted. Alii is masculine, and therefore it can be used to refer to men, or groups of men and women; the feminine et aliae is proper when the “others” are all female, but as with many loanwords, interlingual use, such as in reference lists, is often invariable. Et alia is neuter plural and thus in Latin text is properly used only for inanimate, genderless objects, but some use it as a gender-neutral alternative.[3] APA style uses et al. (normal font)[4] if the work cited was written by more than six authors; MLA style uses et al. for more than three authors; AMA style lists all authors if ≤6, and 3 + et al if >6. AMA style forgoes the period (because it forgoes the period on abbreviations generally) and it forgoes the italic (as it does with other loanwords naturalized into scientific English); many journals that follow AMA style do likewise.

et cetera (etc. (US English); etc (UK English)) or (&c. (US); &c (UK))

  • and the rest
  • description: In modern usage, used to mean “and so on” or “and more”.

et cum spiritu tuo

  • and with your spirit
  • description: A response in the Sursum corda element of the Catholic Mass.

Et facere et pati fortia Romanum est

  • Acting and suffering bravely is the attribute of a Roman
  • description: The words of Gaius Mucius Scaevola when Lars Porsena captured him.

et facta est lux

  • And light came to be or was made
  • description: From Genesis, 1:3: “and there was light”. Motto of Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, United States. See also Fiat lux.

et hoc genus omne

  • and all that sort of thing
  • description: Abbreviated as e.h.g.o. or ehgo

et in Arcadia ego

  • and in Arcadia [am] I
  • description: In other words, “I too am in Arcadia”. See also memento mori.

et lux in tenebris lucet

  • and light shines in the darkness
  • description: See also Lux in Tenebris. Motto of the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú.

et nunc reges intelligite erudimini qui judicatis terram

  • “And now, O ye kings, understand: receive instruction, you that judge the earth.”
  • description: From the Book of Psalms, II.x. (Vulgate), 2.10 (Douay-Rheims).

et sequentes (et seq.)

  • and the following (masculine/feminine plural)
  • description: Also et sequentia (“and the following things”: neut.), abbreviations: et seqq., et seq., or sqq. Commonly used in legal citations to refer to statutes that comprise several sequential sections of a code of statutes (e. g. National Labor Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. § 159 et seq.; New Jersey Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:25-17 et seq.).

et suppositio nil ponit in esse

  • and a supposition puts nothing in being
  • description: More usually translated as “Sayin’ it don’t make it so”.

Et tu, Brute?

  • And you, Brutus?
  • description: Or “Even you, Brutus?” or “You too, Brutus?” Indicates betrayal by an intimate associate. From William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, based on the traditional dying words of Julius Caesar. However, these were almost certainly not Caesar’s true last words: Plutarch quotes Caesar as saying in Greek, the language of the Roman elite at the time, καὶ σὺ τέκνον (Kaì sù téknon?), translated as “You too, (my) child?”, quoting from Menander.

et uxor (et ux.)

  • and wife
  • description: A legal term.

et vir

  • and husband
  • description: A legal term.

Etiam si omnes, ego non

  • Even if all others, I will never
  • description: Saint Peter to Jesus Christ, from the Vulgate, Gospel of Matthew 26:33; New King James Version: Matthew 26:33).

etsi deus non daretur

  • even if God were not a given
  • description: This sentence synthesizes a famous concept of Hugo Grotius (1625).

ex abundanti cautela

  • out of an abundance of caution
  • description: In law, describes someone taking precautions against a very remote contingency. “One might wear a belt in addition to braces ex abundanti cautela”.[5] In banking, a loan in which the collateral is more than the loan itself. Also the basis for the term “an abundance of caution” employed by United States President Barack Obama to explain why the Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court John Roberts had to re-administer the presidential oath of office, and again in reference to terrorist threats.

ex abundantia enim cordis os loquitur

  • for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.
  • description: From the Gospel of Matthew, XII.xxxiv (Vulgate), 12.34 (Douay-Rheims) and the Gospel of Luke, VI.xlv (Vulgate), 6.45 (Douay-Rheims). Sometimes rendered without enim (“for”).

ex aequo

  • from the equal
  • description: Denoting “on equal footing”, i. e., in a tie. Used for those two (seldom more) participants of a competition who demonstrated identical performance.

ex Africa semper aliquid novi

  • “(There is) always something new (coming) out of Africa”
  • description: Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 8, 42 (unde etiam vulgare Graeciae dictum semper aliquid novi Africam adferre[6]), a translation of the Greek «Ἀεὶ Λιβύη φέρει τι καινόν».

ex amicitia pax

  • peace from friendship
  • description: Often used on internal diplomatic event invitations. A motto sometimes inscribed on flags and mission plaques of diplomatic corps.

ex animo

  • from the soul
  • description: Sincerely.

ex ante

  • from before
  • description: Denoting “beforehand”, “before the event”, or “based on prior assumptions”; denoting a prediction.

Ex Astris Scientia

  • From the Stars, Knowledge
  • description: The motto of the fictional Starfleet Academy of Star Trek. Adapted from ex luna scientia, which in turn derived from ex scientia tridens.

ex cathedra

  • from the chair
  • description: A phrase applied to the declarations or promulgations of the Catholic Supreme Pontiff (Pope) when, preserved from the possibility of error by the Holy Spirit (see Papal infallibility), he solemnly declares or promulgates (“from the chair” that was the ancient symbol of the teacher and governor, in this case of the Church) a dogmatic doctrine on faith or morals as being contained in divine revelation, or at least being intimately connected to divine revelation. Used, by extension, of anyone who is perceived as speaking as though with supreme authority.

ex cultu robur

  • from culture [comes] strength
  • description: The motto of Cranleigh School, Surrey.

ex Deo

  • from God

ex dolo malo

  • from fraud
  • description: “From harmful deceit”; dolus malus is the Latin legal term denoting “fraud”. The full legal phrase is ex dolo malo non oritur actio (“an action does not arise from fraud”). When an action has its origin in fraud or deceit, it cannot be supported; thus, a court of law will not assist a man who bases his course of action on an immoral or illegal act.

ex facie

  • from the face
  • description: Idiomatically rendered “on the face of it”. A legal term typically used to state that a document’s explicit terms are defective absent further investigation.

ex gratia

  • from kindness
  • description: More literally “from grace”. Refers to someone voluntarily performing an act purely from kindness, as opposed to for personal gain or from being compelled to do it. In law, an ex gratia payment is one made without recognizing any liability or obligation.

ex hypothesi

  • from the hypothesis
  • description: Denoting “by hypothesis”.

ex infra (e.i.)

  • “from below”
  • description: Recent academic notation denoting “from below in this writing”. See also ex supra.

ex juvantibus

  • from that which helps
  • description: The medical pitfall in which response to a therapeutic regimen substitutes proper diagnosis.

ex lege

  • from the law

ex libris

  • from the books
  • description: Precedes a person’s name, denoting “from the library of” the nominate; also a synonym for “bookplate”.

ex luna scientia

  • from the moon, knowledge
  • description: The motto of the Apollo 13 lunar mission, derived from ex scientia tridens, the motto of Jim Lovell’s alma mater, the United States Naval Academy.

ex malo bonum

  • good out of evil
  • description: From Saint Augustine of Hippo, “Sermon LXI”, in which he contradicts the dictum of Seneca the Younger in Epistulae morales ad Lucilium, 87:22: bonum ex malo non fit (“good does not come from evil”). Also the alias of the song “Miserabile Visu” by Anberlin in the album New Surrender.

ex mea sententia

  • in my opinion

ex mero motu

  • out of mere impulse, or of one’s own accord

ex nihilo nihil fit

  • nothing comes from nothing
  • description: From Lucretius, and said earlier by Empedocles. Its original meaning is “work is required to succeed”, but its modern meaning is a more general “everything has its origins in something” (see also causality). It is commonly applied to the conservation laws in philosophy and modern science. Ex nihilo is often used in conjunction with “creation”, as in creatio ex nihilo, denoting “creation out of nothing”. It is often used in philosophy and theology in connection with the proposition that God created the universe from nothing. It is also mentioned in the final ad-lib of the Monty Python song Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.

ex novo

  • anew
  • description: Denotes something that has been newly made or made from scratch (see also de novo).

Ex Oblivione

  • from oblivion
  • description: The title of a short story by H. P. Lovecraft.

ex officio

  • from the office
  • description: By virtue or right of office. Often used when someone holds one office by virtue of holding another: for example, the President of France is an ex officio Co-Prince of Andorra. A common misconception is that all ex officio members of a committee or congress may not vote; but in some cases they do. In law ex officio can also refer to an administrative or judicial office taking action of its own accord, in the case of the latter the more common term is ex proprio motu or ex meru motu, for example to invalidate a patent or prosecute infringers of copyright.[7]

ex opere operantis

  • from the work of the one working
  • description: A theological phrase contrasted with ex opere operato, referring to the notion that the validity or promised benefit of a sacrament depends on the person administering it.

ex opere operato

  • from the work worked
  • description: A theological phrase meaning that the act of receiving a sacrament actually confers the promised benefit, such as a baptism actually and literally cleansing one’s sins. The Catholic Church affirms that the source of grace is God, not just the actions or disposition of the minister or the recipient of the sacrament.

ex oriente lux

  • light from the east
  • description: Originally refers to the sun rising in the east, but alludes to culture coming from the Eastern world. Motto of several institutions.

ex oriente pax

  • peace comes from the east (i.e. from the Soviet Union)
  • description: Shown on the logo as used by East Germany’s CDU, a blue flag with two yellow stripes, a dove, and the CDU symbol in the center with the words ex oriente pax.

ex parte

  • from a part
  • description: A legal term that means “by one party” or “for one party”. Thus, on behalf of one side or party only.

ex pede Herculem

  • from his foot, so Hercules
  • description: From the measure of Hercules’ foot you shall know his size; from a part, the whole.

ex post

  • from after
  • description: “Afterward”, “after the event”. Based on knowledge of the past. Measure of past performance.

ex post facto

  • from a thing done afterward
  • description: Said of a law with retroactive effect.

ex professo

  • from one declaring [an art or science]
  • description: Or ‘with due competence’. Said of the person who perfectly knows his art or science. Also used to mean “expressly”.[8]

ex rel. or ex relatio

  • [arising] out of the relation/narration [of the relator]
  • description: The term is a legal phrase; the legal citation guide called the Bluebook describes ex rel. as a “procedural phrase” and requires using it to abbreviate “on the relation of,” “for the use of,” “on behalf of,” and similar expressions. An example of use is in court case titles such as Universal Health Services, Inc. v. United States ex rel. Escobar

ex scientia tridens

  • from knowledge, sea power.
  • description: The United States Naval Academy motto. Refers to knowledge bringing men power over the sea comparable to that of the trident-bearing Greek god Poseidon.

ex scientia vera

  • from knowledge, truth
  • description: The motto of the College of Graduate Studies at Middle Tennessee State University.

ex silentio

  • from silence
  • description: In general, the claim that the absence of something demonstrates the proof of a proposition. An argumentum ex silentio (“argument from silence”) is an argument based on the assumption that someone’s silence on a matter suggests (“proves” when a logical fallacy) that person’s ignorance of the matter or their inability to counterargue validly.

ex situ

  • out of position
  • description: opposite of “in situ”

ex solo ad solem

  • from the Earth to the Sun
  • description: The motto of the University of Central Lancashire, Preston

ex supra (e.s.)

  • “from above”
  • description: Recent academic notation for “from above in this writing”. See also ex infra.

ex tempore

  • from [this moment of] time
  • description: “This instant”, “right away” or “immediately”. Also written extempore.

Ex turpi causa non oritur actio

  • From a dishonorable cause an action does not arise
  • description: A legal doctrine which states that a claimant will be unable to pursue a cause of action, if it arises in connection with his own illegal act. Particularly relevant in the law of contract, tort and trusts.

ex undis

  • from the waves [of the sea]
  • description: motto in the coat of arms of Eemsmond

Ex Unitate Vires

  • union is strength, or unity is strength
  • description: Former motto of South Africa.

ex vi termini

  • from the force of the term
  • description: Thus, “by definition”.

ex vita discedo, tanquam ex hospitio, non tanquam ex domo

  • I depart from life as from an inn, not as from home
  • description: Cicero, Cato Maior de Senectute (On Old Age) 23

ex vivo

  • out of or from life
  • description: Used in reference to the study or assay of living tissue in an artificial environment outside the living organism.

ex voto

  • from the vow
  • description: Thus, in accordance with a promise. An ex voto is also an offering made in fulfillment of a vow.

ex vulgus scientia

  • from crowd, knowledge
  • description: used to describe social computing, in The Wisdom of Crowds and discourse referring to it.


  • higher
  • description: “Ever upward!” The state motto of New York. Also a catchphrase used by Marvel Comics head Stan Lee.

exceptio firmat (or probat) regulam in casibus non exceptis

  • The exception confirms the rule in cases which are not excepted
  • description: A juridical principle which means that the statement of a rule’s exception (e.g., “no parking on Sundays”) implicitly confirms the rule (i.e., that parking is allowed Monday through Saturday). Often mistranslated as “the exception that proves the rule”.

excusatio non petita accusatio manifesta

  • an excuse that has not been sought [is] an obvious accusation
  • description: More loosely, “he who excuses himself, accuses himself”—an unprovoked excuse is a sign of guilt. In French, qui s’excuse, s’accuse.


  • s/he may go out
  • description: A formal leave of absence.

exegi monumentum aere perennius

  • I have reared a monument more enduring than bronze
  • description: Horace, Carmina III:XXX:I

exempli gratia (e.g.)

  • for the sake of example, for example
  • description: Exempli gratiā, ‘for example’, is usually abbreviated “e.g.” (less commonly, ex. gr.). The abbreviation “e.g.” often is interpreted anglicised as ‘example given’. It is not usually followed by a comma in British English, but it is in American usage. E.g. is often confused with i.e. (id est, meaning ‘that is’ or ‘in other words’).[9] Some writing styles give such abbreviations without punctuation, as ie and eg.[a]

exercitus sine duce corpus est sine spiritu

  • an army without a leader is a body without a spirit
  • description: On a plaque at the former military staff building of the Swedish Armed Forces.


  • they leave
  • description: Third-person plural present active indicative of the Latin verb exire; also seen in exeunt omnes, “all leave”; singular: exit.

experientia docet

  • experience teaches
  • description: This term has been used in dermatopathology to express that there is no substitute for experience in dealing with all the numerous variations that may occur with skin conditions.[26] The term has also been used in gastroenterology.[27] It is also the motto of San Francisco State University.

experimentum crucis

  • experiment of the cross
  • description: Or “crucial experiment”. A decisive test of a scientific theory.

experto crede

  • trust the expert
  • description: Literally “believe one who has had experience”. An author’s aside to the reader.

expressio unius est exclusio alterius

  • the expression of the one is the exclusion of the other
  • description: “Mentioning one thing may exclude another thing”. A principle of legal statutory interpretation: the explicit presence of a thing implies intention to exclude others; e.g., a reference in the Poor Relief Act 1601 to “lands, houses, tithes and coal mines” was held to exclude mines other than coal mines. Sometimes expressed as expressum facit cessare tacitum (broadly, “the expression of one thing excludes the implication of something else”).

extra domum

  • [placed] outside of the house
  • description: Refers to a possible result of Catholic ecclesiastical legal proceedings when the culprit is removed from being part of a group like a monastery.

extra Ecclesiam nulla salus

  • outside the Church [there is] no salvation
  • description: This expression comes from the Epistle to Jubaianus, paragraph 21, written by Saint Cyprian of Carthage, a bishop of the third century. It is often used to summarise the doctrine that the Catholic Church is absolutely necessary for salvation.

extra omnes

  • outside, all [of you]
  • description: It is issued by the Master of the Papal Liturgical Celebrations before a session of the Papal conclave which will elect a new Pope. When spoken, all those who are not Cardinals, or those otherwise mandated to be present at the Conclave, must leave the Sistine Chapel.

extra territorium jus dicenti impune non paretur

  • he who administers justice outside of his territory is disobeyed with impunity
  • description: Refers to extraterritorial jurisdiction. Often cited in law of the sea cases on the high seas.

extrema ratio

  • “extreme solution”, “last possibility”, “last possible course of action”


faber est suae quisque fortunae

  • every man is the artisan of his own fortune
  • description: Appius Claudius Caecus; motto of Fort Street High School in Petersham, Sydney, Australia

fac simile

  • make a similar thing
  • description: origin of the word facsimile, and, through it, of fax

faciam eos in gentem unum

  • I will make them into one nation
  • description: appeared on British coinage following the Union of the Crowns

faciam quodlibet quod necesse est

  • I’ll do whatever it takes

faciam ut mei memineris

  • I’ll make you remember me
  • description: from Plautus, Persa IV.3–24; used by Russian hooligans as tattoo inscription

facile princeps

  • easily the first
  • description: said of the acknowledged leader in some field, especially in the arts and humanities

facilius est multa facere quam diu

  • It is easier to do many things, than one thing consecutively
  • description: Quintilian, Institutio Oratoria 1/12:7

facta, non verba

  • deeds, not words
  • description: Frequently used as motto

factum fieri infectum non potest

  • It is impossible for a deed to be undone
  • description: Terence, Phormio 5/8:45

falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus

  • false in one, false in all
  • description: A Roman legal principle indicating that a witness who willfully falsifies one matter is not credible on any matter. The underlying motive for attorneys to impeach opposing witnesses in court: the principle discredits the rest of their testimony if it is without corroboration.

familia supra omnia

  • family over everything
  • description: frequently used as a family motto

fas est et ab hoste doceri

  • It is lawful to be taught even by an enemy
  • description: Ovid, Metamorphoses 4:428

feci quod potui, faciant meliora potentes

  • I have done what I could; let those who can do better.
  • description: Slight variant (“quod potui feci”) found in James Boswell’s An Account of Corsica, there described as “a simple beautiful inscription on the front of Palazzo Tolomei at Siena”.[1] Later, found in Henry Baerlein’s introduction to his translation of The Diwan of Abul ʿAla by Abul ʿAla Al-Maʿarri (973–1057);[2] also in Anton Chekhov’s Three Sisters, act 1. Also in Alfonso Moreno Espinosa, Compendio de Historia Universal, 5. ed. (Cádiz 1888).

NN fecit

  • NN made (this)
  • description: a formula used traditionally in the author’s signature by painters, sculptors, artisans, scribes etc.; compare pinxit

fecisti patriam diversis de gentibus unam

  • “From differing peoples you have made one native land”
  • description: Verse 63 from the poem De reditu suo by Rutilius Claudius Namatianus praising emperor Augustus.[3]

felicior Augusto, melior Traiano

  • “be more fortunate than Augustus and better than Trajan”
  • description: ritual acclamation delivered to late Roman emperors

Felicitas, Integritas Et Sapientia

  • Happiness, Integrity and Knowledge
  • description: The motto of Oakland Colegio Campestre school through which Colombia participates of NASA Educational Programs

felix culpa

  • fortunate fault
  • description: from the “Exsultet” of the Catholic liturgy for the Easter Vigil

felix qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas

  • happy is he who can ascertain the causes of things
  • description: Virgil. “Rerum cognoscere causas” is the motto of the London School of Economics, University of Sheffield, and University of Guelph.

felo de se

  • felon from himself
  • description: archaic legal term for one who commits suicide, referring to early English common law punishments, such as land seizure, inflicted on those who killed themselves

fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt

  • men generally believe what they want to
  • description: People’s beliefs are shaped largely by their desires. Julius Caesar, The Gallic War 3.18

festina lente

  • hurry slowly
  • description: An oxymoronic motto of Augustus. It encourages proceeding quickly, but calmly and cautiously. Equivalent to “more haste, less speed”. Motto of the Madeira School, McLean, Virginia and Berkhamsted School, Berkhamsted, England, United Kingdom

festinare nocet, nocet et cunctatio saepe; tempore quaeque suo qui facit, ille sapit.

  • it is bad to hurry, and delay is often as bad; the wise person is the one who does everything in its proper time.
  • description: Ovid[4]

fiat justitia ruat caelum

  • let justice be done, should the sky fall
  • description: attributed to Lucius Calpurnius Piso Caesoninus

fiat lux

  • let there be light
  • description: from the Genesis, “dixitque Deus fiat lux et facta est lux” (“and God said: ‘Let there be light’, and there was light.”); frequently used as the motto of schools.

fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum

  • be it done to me according to thy word
  • description: Virgin Mary’s response to the Annunciation

ficta voluptatis causa sint proxima veris

  • fictions meant to please should approximate the truth
  • description: Horace, Ars Poetica (338); advice presumably discounted by the magical realists

Fidei Defensor (Fid Def) or (fd)

  • Defender of the Faith
  • description: A title given to King Henry VIII of England by Pope Leo X on 17 October 1521, before Henry broke from the Roman Church and founded the Church of England. British monarchs continue to use the title, which is still inscribed on all British coins, and usually abbreviated.

fidem scit

  • he knows the faith
  • description: sometimes mistranslated to “keep the faith” when used in contemporary English writings of all kinds to convey a light-hearted wish for the reader’s well-being

fides qua creditur

  • the faith by which it is believed
  • description: Roman Catholic theological term for the personal faith that apprehends what is believed, contrasted with fides quae creditur, which is what is believed; see next phrase below

fides quae creditur

  • the faith which is believed
  • description: Roman Catholic theological term for the content and truths of the Faith or “the deposit of the Faith”, contrasted with fides qua creditur, which is the personal faith by which the Faith is believed; see previous phrase

fidus Achates

  • faithful Achates
  • description: refers to a faithful friend; from the name of Aeneas’s faithful companion in Virgil’s Aeneid

finis coronat opus

  • the end crowns the work
  • description: A major part of a work is properly finishing it. Motto of St. Mary’s Catholic High School in Dubai, United Arab Emirates; on the Coat of Arms of Seychelles; and of the Amin Investment Bank

finis vitae sed non amoris

  • the end of life, but not of love
  • description: unknown

flagellum dei

  • the scourge of God
  • description: title for Attila the Hun, the ruthless invader of the Western Roman Empire

flatus vocis

  • [a or the] breath of voice
  • description: a mere name, word, or sound without a corresponding objective reality; expression used by the nominalists of universals and traditionally attributed to the medieval philosopher Roscelin of Compiègne

flectere si nequeo superos, Acheronta movebo

  • if I can not reach Heaven I will raise Hell
  • description: Virgil, Aeneid, Book VII.312

floreat nostra schola

  • may our school flourish
  • description: a common scholastic motto

floruit (fl.)

  • one flourished
  • description: indicates the period when a historic person was most active or was accomplishing that for which he is famous; may be used as a substitute when the dates of his birth and/or death are unknown.

fons et origo

  • the spring and source
  • description: also: “the fountainhead and beginning”

formosam resonare doces Amaryllida silvas

  • teach the woods to re-echo “fair Amaryllis”
  • description: Virgil, Eclogues, 1:5

forsan et haec olim meminisse iuvabit

  • perhaps even these things will be good to remember one day
  • description: Virgil, Aeneid, Book 1, Line 203

fortes fortuna adiuvat

  • Fortune favours the bold
  • description: The motto of the United States Marine Corps 3rd Marine Regiment

fortes fortuna juvat

  • Fortune favours the bold
  • description: The motto of the Jutland Dragoon Regiment of Denmark

fortes in fide

  • strong in faith
  • description: a common motto

fortis cadere, cedere non potest

  • the brave may fall, but can not yield
  • description: motto on the Coat of Arms of the Fahnestock Family and of the Palmetto Guard of Charleston, South Carolina

fortis est veritas

  • truth is strong
  • description: motto on the Coat of Arms of Oxford, England, United Kingdom

fortiter et fideliter

  • bravely and faithfully
  • description: a common motto

fortiter in re, suaviter in modo

  • resolute in execution, gentle in manner
  • description: a common motto

fraus omnia vitiat

  • a legal principle: the occurrence or taint of fraud in a (legal) transaction entirely invalidates it

fui quod es, eris quod sum

  • I once was what you are, you will be what I am
  • description: An epitaph that reminds the reader of the inevitability of death, as if to state: “Once I was alive like you are, and you will be dead as I am now.” It was carved on the gravestones of some Roman military officers.

fumus boni iuris

  • presumption of sufficient legal basis
  • description: a legal principle

fundamenta inconcussa

  • unshakable foundation


gaudia certaminis

  • the joys of battle
  • description: according to Cassiodorus, an expression used by Attila in addressing his troops prior to the 451 Battle of Châlons

gaudeamus hodie

  • let us rejoice today

gaudeamus igitur

  • therefore let us rejoice
  • description: First words of an academic anthem used, among other places, in The Student Prince.

generalia specialibus non derogant

  • general provisions enacted in later legislation do not detract from specific provisions enacted in earlier legislation
  • description: A principle of statutory interpretation: If a matter falls under a specific provision in a statute enacted before a general provision enacted in a later statute, it is to be presumed that the legislature did not intend that the earlier specific provision be repealed, and the matter is governed by the earlier specific provision, not the more recent general one.

genius loci

  • spirit of place
  • description: The unique, distinctive aspects or atmosphere of a place, such as those celebrated in art, stories, folk tales, and festivals. Originally, the genius loci was literally the protective spirit of a place, a creature usually depicted as a snake.

Gloria in excelsis Deo

  • Glory to God in the Highest
  • description: Often translated “Glory to God on High”. The title and beginning of an ancient Roman Catholic doxology, the Greater Doxology. See also ad maiorem Dei gloriam.

Gloria invidiam vicisti

  • By your fame you have conquered envy
  • description: Sallust, Bellum Jugurthum (“Jugurthine War”) 10:2.

Gloria Patri

  • Glory to the Father
  • description: The beginning of the Lesser Doxology.

Graecia capta ferum victorem cepit

  • Conquered Greece in turn defeated its savage conqueror
  • description: Horace Epistles 2.1

Graecum est; non legitur

  • It is Greek (and therefore) it cannot be read.
  • description: Most commonly from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar where Casca couldn’t explain to Cassius what Cicero was saying because he was speaking Greek. The more common colloquialism would be: It’s all Greek to me.

graviora manent

  • heavier things remain
  • description: Virgil Aeneid 6:84; more severe things await, the worst is yet to come

Gravis Dulcis Immutabilis

  • serious sweet immutable
  • description: Title of a poem by James Elroy Flecker [1]

gutta cavat lapidem [non vi sed saepe cadendo]

  • a water drop hollows a stone [not by force, but by falling often]
  • description: main phrase is from Ovid, Epistulae ex Ponto IV, 10, 5.;[2] expanded in the Middle Ages


habeas corpus

  • You should have the body
  • description: A legal term from the 14th century or earlier. Refers to a number of legal writs to bring a person before a court or judge, most commonly habeas corpus ad subiciendum (you may have the body to bring up). Commonly used as the general term for a prisoner’s legal right to challenge the legality of their detention. (Corpus here is used in a similar sense to corpus delicti, referring to the substance of the reason for detention rather than a physical human body.)

habemus papam

  • we have a pope
  • description: Used after a Catholic Church papal election to announce publicly a successful ballot to elect a new pope.

Habent sua fata libelli

  • Books have their destiny [according to the capabilities of the reader]
  • description: Terentianus Maurus, De Litteris, De Syllabis, De Metris, 1:1286.

hac lege

  • with this law

haec olim meminisse iuvabit

  • one day, this will be pleasing to remember
  • description: Commonly rendered in English as “One day, we’ll look back on this and smile”. From Virgil’s Aeneid 1.203. Also, motto of Handsworth Grammar School, and the Jefferson Society.

haec ornamenta mea [sunt]

  • “These are my ornaments” or
  • description: Attributed to Cornelia Africana (talking about her children) by Valerius Maximus in Factorum ac dictorum memorabilium libri IX, IV, 4, incipit.[1][2]
  • “These are my jewels”

Hannibal ad portas

  • Hannibal at the gates
  • description: Found in Cicero’s first Philippic and in Livy’s Ab urbe condita
  • description: Hannibal was a fierce enemy of Rome who almost brought them to defeat.
  • description: Sometimes rendered “Hannibal ante portas”, with verisimilar meaning: “Hannibal before the gates”

haud ignota loquor

  • I speak not of unknown things
  • description: Thus, “I say no things that are unknown”. From Virgil’s Aeneid, 2.91.

Hei mihi! quod nullis amor est medicabilis herbis.

  • Oh me! love can not be cured by herbs
  • description: From Ovid’s Metamorphoses (“Transformations”), I, 523.

hic abundant leones

  • here lions abound
  • description: Written on uncharted territories of old maps; see also: here be dragons.

hic et nunc

  • here and now
  • description: The imperative motto for the satisfaction of desire. “I need it, Here and Now”

hic jacet (HJ)

  • here lies
  • description: Also rendered hic iacet. Written on gravestones or tombs, preceding the name of the deceased. Equivalent to hic sepultus (here is buried), and sometimes combined into hic jacet sepultus (HJS), “here lies buried”.

hic locus est ubi mors gaudet succurrere vitae

  • This is the place where death delights in helping life
  • description: A motto of many morgues or wards of anatomical pathology.

hic manebimus optime

  • here we’ll stay excellently
  • description: According to Titus Livius the phrase was pronounced by Marcus Furius Camillus, addressing the senators who intended to abandon the city, invaded by Gauls, circa 390 BC. It is used today to express the intent to keep one’s position, even if the circumstances appear adverse.

hic Rhodus, hic salta

  • From the Latin version of “The Boastful Athlete” in Aesop’s Fables[3] as formulated by Erasmus in his Adagia
  • description: “Here is Rhodes, here is where you jump.” – Prove what you can do, here and now. Cited by Hegel and Marx.

hic sunt dracones

  • here there are dragons
  • description: Written on a globe engraved on two conjoined halves of ostrich eggs, dated to 1504.

hic sunt leones

  • here there are lions
  • description: Written on uncharted territories of old maps.

hinc et inde

  • from both sides

hinc illae lacrimae

  • hence those tears
  • description: From Terence, Andria, line 125. Originally literal, referring to the tears shed by Pamphilus at the funeral of Chrysis, it came to be used proverbially in the works of later authors, such as Horace (Epistula XIX, 41).

hinc itur ad astra

  • from here the way leads to the stars
  • description: Written on the wall of the old astronomical observatory of Vilnius University, Lithuania, and the university’s motto.

historia vitae magistra

  • history, the teacher of life
  • description: From Cicero’s De Oratore, II, 9. Also “history is the mistress of life”.

hoc est bellum

  • This is war

hoc est Christum cognoscere, beneficia eius cognoscere

  • To know Christ is to know his benefits
  • description: Famous dictum by the Reformer Melanchthon in his Loci Communes of 1521

hoc est enim corpus meum

  • For this is my Body
  • description: The words of Jesus reiterated in Latin during the Roman Catholic Eucharist. Sometimes simply written as “Hoc est corpus meum” or “This is my body”.

hoc genus omne

  • All that crowd/people
  • description: From Horace’s Satires, 1/2:2. Refers to the crowd at Tigellio’s funeral (c. 40–39 BC). Not to be confused with et hoc genus omne (English: and all that sort of thing).

hodie mihi, cras tibi

  • Today it’s me, tomorrow it will be you
  • description: Inscription that can be seen on tombstones dating from the Middle Ages, meant to outline the ephemerality of life.

hominem pagina nostra sapit

  • It is of man that my page smells
  • description: From Martial’s Epigrams, Book 10, No. 4, Line 10; stating his purpose in writing.

homo bulla

  • man is a bubble
  • description: Varro (116 BCE – 27 BC), in the opening line of the first book of Rerum Rusticarum Libri Tres, wrote “quod, ut dicitur, si est homo bulla, eo magis senex” (for if, as they say, man is a bubble, all the more so is an old man)[4] later reintroduced by Erasmus in his Adagia, a collection of sayings published in 1572.

homo homini lupus

  • man [is a] wolf to man
  • description: First attested in Plautus’ Asinaria (lupus est homo homini). The sentence was drawn on by Hobbes in Leviathan as a concise expression of his views on human nature.

homo praesumitur bonus donec probetur malus

  • One is innocent until proven guilty
  • description: See also: presumption of innocence.

homo sum humani a me nihil alienum puto

  • I am a human being; nothing human is strange to me
  • description: From Terence’s Heauton Timorumenos (The Self-Tormentor) (163 BC). Originally “strange” or “foreign” (alienum) was used in the sense of “irrelevant”, as this line was a response to the speaker being told to mind his own business, but it is now commonly used to advocate respecting different cultures and being humane in general. Puto (I consider) is not translated because it is meaningless outside of the line’s context within the play.

homo unius libri

  • a man of a single book
  • description: Attributed to Thomas Aquinas: «Hominem unius libri timeo» “I fear a man of a single book.”

honoris causa

  • for the sake of honor
  • description: Said of an honorary title, such as “Doctor of Science honoris causa”

hora fugit

  • the hour flees
  • description: See tempus fugit

hora somni (h.s.)

  • at the hour of sleep
  • description: Medical shorthand for “at bedtime”

horas non numero nisi serenas

  • I do not count the hours unless they are sunny
  • description: A common inscription on sundials.

horresco referens

  • I shudder as I tell
  • description: From Virgil’s Aeneid, 2.204, on the appearance of the sea-serpents who kill the Trojan priest Laocoön and his sons

horribile dictu

  • horrible to say
  • description: cf. mirabile dictu

hortus siccus

  • A dry garden
  • description: A collection of dry, preserved plants

hostis humani generis

  • enemy of the human race
  • description: Cicero defined pirates in Roman law as being enemies of humanity in general.

humilitas occidit superbiam

  • humility conquers pride

hypotheses non fingo

  • I do not fabricate hypotheses
  • description: From Newton, Principia. Less literally, “I do not assert that any hypotheses are true”.

I, Vitelli, dei Romani sono belli

  • Go, oh Vitellius, at the war sound of the Roman god
  • description: Perfectly correct Latin sentence usually reported as funny by modern Italians because the same exact words, in Italian, mean “Romans’ calves are beautiful”, which has a ridiculously different meaning.

ibidem (ibid.)

  • in the same place
  • description: Usually used in bibliographic citations to refer to the last source previously referenced.

id est (i.e.)

  • that is (literally “it is”)
  • description: “That is (to say)” in the sense of “that means” and “which means”, or “in other words”, “namely”, or sometimes “in this case”, depending on the context.

id quod plerumque accidit

  • that which generally happens
  • description: A phrase used in legal language to indicate the most probable outcome from an act, fact, event or cause.

idem (id.)

  • the same
  • description: Used to refer to something that has already been cited; ditto. See also ibidem.

idem quod (i.q.)

  • the same as
  • description: Not to be confused with an intelligence quotient.

Idus Martiae

  • the Ides of March
  • description: In the Roman calendar, the Ides of March refers to the 15th day of March. In modern times, the term is best known as the date on which Julius Caesar was assassinated in 44 BC; the term has come to be used as a metaphor for impending doom.

Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum (INRI)

  • Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews
  • description: From Vulgate; John 19:19. John 19:20 states that this inscription was written in three languages—Aramaic, Latin and Greek—at the top of the cross during the crucifixion of Jesus.

igitur qui desiderat pacem, praeparet bellum

  • Therefore whoever desires peace, let him prepare for war
  • description: Publius Flavius Vegetius Renatus, De Re Militari; similar to si vis pacem, para bellum and in pace ut sapiens aptarit idonea bello.

igne natura renovatur integra

  • through fire, nature is reborn whole
  • description: An alchemical aphorism invented as an alternate meaning for the acronym INRI.

igni ferroque

  • with fire and iron
  • description: A phrase describing scorched earth tactics. Also rendered as igne atque ferro, ferro ignique, and other variations.

ignis aurum probat

  • fire tests gold
  • description: A phrase referring to the refining of character through difficult circumstances, it is also the motto of the Prometheus Society.

ignis fatuus

  • foolish fire
  • description: Will-o’-the-wisp.

ignorantia juris non excusat

  • (or ignorantia legis non excusat or ignorantia legis neminem excusat) ignorance of the law is no excuse
  • description: A legal principle whereby ignorance of a law does not allow one to escape liability.

ignoratio elenchi

  • ignorance of the issue
  • description: The logical fallacy of irrelevant conclusion: making an argument that, while possibly valid, doesn’t prove or support the proposition it claims to. An ignoratio elenchi that is an intentional attempt to mislead or confuse the opposing party is known as a red herring. Elenchi is from the Greek elenchos.

ignotum per ignotius

  • unknown by means of the more unknown
  • description: An explanation that is less clear than the thing to be explained. Synonymous with obscurum per obscurius.

ignotus (ign.)

  • unknown

illum oportet crescere me autem minui

  • He must become greater; I must become less
  • description: In the Gospel of John 3:30, a phrase said by John the Baptist after baptizing Jesus. Motto of Saint John the Baptist Catholic School, San Juan, Metro Manila.

imago Dei

  • image of God
  • description: From the religious concept that man was created in “God’s image”.

imitatio dei

  • imitation of a god
  • description: A principle, held by several religions, that believers should strive to resemble their god(s).

imperium in imperio

  • an order within an order
  • description: 1. A group of people who owe utmost fealty to their leader(s), subordinating the interests of the larger group to the authority of the internal group’s leader(s).
  • description: 2. A “fifth column” organization operating against the organization within which they seemingly reside.
  • description: 3. “State within a state”

imperium sine fine

  • an empire without an end
  • description: In Virgil’s Aeneid, Jupiter ordered Aeneas to found a city (Rome) from which would come an everlasting, never-ending empire, the endless (sine fine) empire.

impossibilium nulla obligatio est

  • there is no obligation to do the impossible
  • description: Publius Juventius Celsus, Digesta L 17, 185.


  • let it be printed
  • description: An authorization to publish, granted by some censoring authority (originally a Catholic Bishop).

in absentia

  • in the absence
  • description: Used in a number of situations, such as in a trial carried out in the absence of the accused.

in absentia lucis, tenebrae vincunt

  • in the absence of light, darkness prevails

in actu

  • in act
  • description: In the very act; in reality.

[Dominica] in albis [depositis]

  • [Sunday in Setting Aside the] White Garments
  • description: Latin name of the Octave of Easter.

in articulo mortis

  • at the point of death

in bono veritas

  • truth is in the good

in camera

  • in the chamber
  • description: In secret. See also camera obscura.

in casu (i.c.)

  • in the event
  • description: In this case.

in cauda venenum

  • the poison is in the tail
  • description: Using the metaphor of a scorpion, this can be said of an account that proceeds gently, but turns vicious towards the end—or more generally waits till the end to reveal an intention or statement that is undesirable in the listener’s ears.

in com. Ebor.

  • In the county of Yorkshire
  • description: Eboracum was the Roman name for York and this phrase is used in some Georgian and Victorian books on the genealogy of prominent Yorkshire families.

in dubio pro reo

  • in doubt, on behalf of the [alleged] culprit
  • description: Expresses the judicial principle that in case of doubt the decision must be in favor of the accused (in that anyone is innocent until there is proof to the contrary).

in duplo

  • in double
  • description: In duplicate

in effigie

  • in the likeness
  • description: In (the form of) an image; in effigy (as opposed to “in the flesh” or “in person”).

in esse

  • in existence
  • description: In actual existence; as opposed to in posse.

in extenso

  • in the extended
  • description: In full; at full length; complete or unabridged

in extremis

  • in the furthest reaches
  • description: At the very end. In extremity; in dire straits; also “at the point of death” (cf. in articulo mortis).

in fidem

  • into faith
  • description: To the verification of faith.

in fieri

  • in becoming
  • description: In progress; pending.

in fine (i.f.)

  • in the end
  • description: At the end. The footnote says “p. 157 in fine”: “the end of page 157”.

in flagrante delicto

  • in a blazing wrong, while the crime is blazing
  • description: Caught in the act (esp. a crime or in a “compromising position”); equivalent to “caught red-handed” in English idiom.

in flore

  • in blossom
  • description: Blooming.

in foro

  • in forum
  • description: In court (legal term).

in girum imus nocte et consumimur igni

  • We enter the circle at night and are consumed by fire
  • description: A palindrome said to describe the behavior of moths. Also the title of a film by Guy Debord.

in hoc sensu or in sensu hoc (s.h.)

  • in this sense
  • description: Recent academic abbreviation for “in this sense”.

in hoc signo vinces

  • by this sign you will conquer
  • description: Words Constantine the Great claimed to have seen in a vision before the Battle of the Milvian Bridge.

in hunc effectum

  • for this purpose
  • description: Describes a meeting called for a particular stated purpose only.

in ictu oculi

  • in the blink of an eye

in illo ordine (i.o.)

  • in that order
  • description: Recent academic substitution for the spacious and inconvenient “…, respectively.”

in illo tempore

  • in that time
  • description: At that time, found often in Gospel lectures during Masses, used to mark an undetermined time in the past.

in inceptum finis est

  • lit.: in the beginning is the end
  • description: or: the beginning foreshadows the end

in limine

  • at the outset/threshold
  • description: Preliminary, in law, a motion in limine is a motion that is made to the judge before or during trial, often about the admissibility of evidence believed prejudicial.

in loco

  • in the place, on the spot
  • description: That is, ‘on site’. “The nearby labs were closed for the weekend, so the water samples were analyzed in loco.”

in loco parentis

  • in the place of a parent
  • description: Assuming parental or custodial responsibility and authority (e.g., schoolteachers over students); a legal term.

in manus tuas commendo spiritum meum

  • into your hands I entrust my spirit
  • description: According to Luke 23:46, the last words of Jesus on the cross.

in medias res

  • into the middle of things
  • description: From Horace. Refers to the literary technique of beginning a narrative in the middle of, or at a late point in, the story, after much action has already taken place. Examples include the Iliad, the Odyssey, Os Lusíadas, Othello, and Paradise Lost. Compare ab initio.

in memoriam

  • into the memory
  • description: Equivalent to “in the memory of”. Refers to remembering or honoring a deceased person.

in natura

  • in nature

in necessariis unitas, in dubiis libertas, in omnibus caritas

  • in necessary things unity, in doubtful things liberty, in all things charity
  • description: “Charity” (caritas) is being used in the classical sense of “compassion” (cf. agape). Motto of the Cartellverband der katholischen deutschen Studentenverbindungen. Often misattributed to Augustine of Hippo.[citation needed]

in nocte consilium

  • advice comes over night. Literally: the night brings advice, source of the English expression “Sleep over it”
  • description: I.e., “Tomorrow is a new day.” Motto of Birkbeck College, University of London.

in nomine diaboli

  • in the name of the devil

in nomine patris, et filii, et spiritus sancti

  • in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit
  • description: invocation of the Holy Trinity

in nuce

  • in a nut
  • description: in a nutshell; briefly stated; potential; in the embryonic phase

in odium fidei

  • in hatred of the faith
  • description: Used in reference to the deaths of Christian martyrs

in omnibus amare et servire Domino

  • In everything, love and serve the Lord.
  • description: The motto of Ateneo de Iloilo, a school in the Philippines

in omnibus requiem quaesivi, et nusquam inveni nisi in angulo cum libro

  • Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book
  • description: Quote by Thomas à Kempis

in ovo

  • in the egg or in the embryo
  • description: An experiment or process performed in an egg or embryo (e.g. in ovo electroporation of chicken embryo).

in pace ut sapiens aptarit idonea bello

  • in peace, like the wise man, make preparations for war
  • description: Horace, Satires 2/2:111; similar to si vis pacem, para bellum and igitur qui desiderat pacem, praeparet bellum.

in pace requiescat

  • in peace may he rest
  • description: Alternate form of requiescat in pace (“let him rest in peace”). Found in this form at the end of The Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allan Poe.

in pari materia

  • upon the same matter or subject
  • description: In statutory interpretation, when a statute is ambiguous, its meaning may be determined in light of other statutes on the same subject matter.

in partibus infidelium

  • in the parts of the infidels
  • description: “In the land of the infidels”; used to refer to bishoprics that remains as titular sees even after the corresponding territory was conquered by Muslim empires.

in pectore

  • in the heart
  • description: A cardinal named in secret by the pope. See also ab imo pectore.

in personam

  • into a person
  • description: Directed towards a particular person

in posse

  • in potential
  • description: In the state of being possible; as opposed to in esse.

in propria persona

  • in one’s own person
  • description: For one’s self, for the sake of one’s “Personhood”; acting on one’s own behalf, especially a person representing themselves in a legal proceeding; see also litigant in person, pro se legal representation in the United States (abbreviated pro per).

in principio erat Verbum

  • in the beginning was the Word (Logos)
  • description: Beginning of the Gospel of John

in re

  • in the matter [of]
  • description: A legal term used to indicate that a judicial proceeding may not have formally designated adverse parties or is otherwise uncontested. The term is commonly used in case citations of probate proceedings, for example, In re Smith’s Estate; it is also used in juvenile courts, as, for instance, In re Gault.

in rebus

  • in the thing [itself]
  • description: Primarily of philosophical use to discuss properties and property exemplification. In philosophy of mathematics, it is typically contrasted with “ante rem” and, more recently, “post res” structuralism. Sometimes in re is used in place of in rebus.

in regione caecorum rex est luscus

  • In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.
  • description: A quote of Desiderius Erasmus from Adagia (first published 1500, with numerous expanded editions through 1536), III, IV, 96.

in rem

  • to the thing
  • description: Legal term indicating a court’s jurisdiction over a piece of property rather than a legal person; contrast with personal (ad personam) jurisdiction. See In rem jurisdiction; Quasi in rem jurisdiction

in rerum natura

  • in the nature of things
  • description: See also Lucretius’ De rerum natura (On the Nature of Things).

in retentis

  • among things held back
  • description: Used to describe documents kept separately from the regular records of a court for special reasons.

in saecula (saeculorum), in saeculum saeculi

  • roughly: down to the times of the times
  • description: forever (and ever), liturgical

in saeculo

  • in the times
  • description: In the secular world, esp. outside a monastery, or before death.

in salvo

  • in safety

in se magna ruunt

  • great things collapse of their own weight
  • description: Lucan, Pharsalia 1:81.

in situ

  • in the place
  • description: In the original place, appropriate position, or natural arrangement.

in somnis veritas

  • In dreams there is truth

in spe

  • in hope
  • description: “future” (“my mother-in-law in spe”, i.e. “my future mother-in-law”), or “in embryonic form”, as in “Locke’s theory of government resembles, in spe, Montesquieu’s theory of the separation of powers.”

in specialibus generalia quaerimus

  • To seek the general in the specifics
  • description: That is, to understand the most general rules through the most detailed analysis.

in statu nascendi

  • in the state of being born
  • description: Just as something is about to begin

in toto

  • in all
  • description: Totally; entirely; completely.

in triplo

  • in triple
  • description: In triplicate.

in umbra, igitur, pugnabimus

  • Then we will fight in the shade

in utero

  • in the womb

in utrumque paratus

  • prepared for either (event)

in vacuo

  • in a void
  • description: In a vacuum; isolated from other things.

in varietate concordia

  • united in diversity
  • description: The motto of the European Union and the Council of Europe

invidiae prudentia victrix

  • prudence conquers jealousy

in vino veritas

  • in wine [there is] truth
  • description: That is, wine loosens the tongue (referring to alcohol’s disinhibitory effects).

in vitro

  • in glass
  • description: An experimental or process methodology performed in a “non-natural” setting (e.g. in a laboratory using a glass test tube or Petri dish), and thus outside of a living organism or cell. Alternative experimental or process methodologies include in vitro, ex vivo and in vivo.

in vivo

  • in life/in a living thing
  • description: An experiment or process performed on a living specimen.

in vivo veritas

  • in a living thing [there is] truth
  • description: An expression used by biologists to express the fact that laboratory findings from testing an organism in vitro are not always reflected when applied to an organism in vivo. A pun on in vino veritas.

incepto ne desistam

  • May I not shrink from my purpose!
  • description: Westville Boys’ High School and Westville Girls’ High School’s motto is taken directly from Virgil. These words, found in Aeneid, Book 1, are used by Juno, queen of heaven who hated the Trojans led by Aeneas. When she saw the fleet of Aeneas on its way to Italy, after the sack of Troy by the Greeks, she planned to scatter it by means of strong winds. In her determination to accomplish her task she cried out “Incepto Ne Desistam!”

incertae sedis

  • of uncertain position (seat)
  • description: A term used to classify a taxonomic group when its broader relationships are unknown or undefined.

incredibile dictu

  • incredible to say
  • description: A variant on mirabile dictu.

intus et in cute

  • Inwardly, under the skin [intimately, without reservation]
  • description: Persius, Satire 3:30.

Index Librorum Prohibitorum

  • Index of Prohibited (or, Forbidden) Books
  • description: A list of books considered heretical by the Roman Catholic Church.

indigens Deo

  • being-in-need-of-God, beggar before God
  • description: From Augustine, De Civitate Dei XII, 1.3: beatitudinem consequatur nec expleat indigentiam suam, “since it is not satisfied unless it be perfectly blessed.”

indignor quandoque bonus dormitat Homerus

  • I too am annoyed whenever good Homer nods off
  • description: Horace, Ars Poetica 358

Infinitus est numerus stultorum.

  • Infinite is the number of fools.

infirma mundi elegit Deus

  • God chooses the weak of the world
  • description: The motto of Venerable Vital-Justin Grandin, the bishop of the St. Albert Diocese, which is now the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Edmonton

infra dignitatem (infra dig)

  • beneath one’s dignity

ingenio stat sine morte decus

  • The honors of genius are eternal
  • description: Propertius, Elegies Book III, 2

iniuriae qui addideris contumeliam

  • You who have added insult to injury
  • description: Phaedrus, Fables 5/3:5.

inopiae desunt multa, avaritiae omnia

  • To poverty many things are lacking; to avarice, everything
  • description: Publilius Syrus.

insita hominibus libidine alendi de industria rumores

  • Men have an innate desire to propagate rumors or reports
  • description: Titus Livius, (XXVII, XXIV); Michel de Montaigne, (Essays).

instante mense (inst.)

  • in the present month
  • description: Used in formal correspondence to refer to the current month, sometimes abbreviated as inst; e.g.: “Thank you for your letter of the 17th inst.”—ult. mense = last month, prox. mense = next month.

Instrumentum regni

  • instrument of government
  • description: Used to express the exploitation of religion by State or ecclesiastical polity as a means of controlling the masses, or in particular to achieve political and mundane ends.

Instrumentum vocale

  • instrument with voice
  • description: So Varro in his De re rustica (On Agriculture) defines the slave: an instrument (as a simple plow, or etc.) with voice.

intaminatis fulget honoribus

  • Untarnished, she shines with honor
  • description: From Horace’s Odes (III.2.18). Motto of Wofford College.

integer vitae scelerisque purus

  • unimpaired by life and clean of wickedness
  • description: From Horace. Used as a funeral hymn.

intelligenti pauca

  • Few words suffice for he who understands

inter alia (i.a.)

  • among other things
  • description: A term used in formal extract minutes to indicate that the minute quoted has been taken from a fuller record of other matters, or when alluding to the parent group after quoting a particular example.

inter alios

  • among others
  • description: Often used to compress lists of parties to legal documents

inter arma enim silent leges

  • in a time of war, the law falls silent
  • description: Said by Cicero in Pro Milone as a protest against unchecked political mobs that had virtually seized control of Rome in the 60s and 50s BC. Famously quoted in the essay Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau as “The clatter of arms drowns out the voice of the law”. This phrase has also been jokingly translated as “In a time of arms, the legs are silent.”

inter caetera

  • among others
  • description: Title of a papal bull

inter mutanda constantia

  • Steadfast in the midst of change
  • description: Motto for Rockwell College in Ireland and Francis Libermann Catholic High School in Ontario, Canada

inter spem et metum

  • between hope and fear

inter faeces et urinam nascimur

  • we are born between feces and urine
  • description: Attributed to Saint Augustine

inter vivos

  • between the living
  • description: Refers to property transfers between living persons, as opposed to a testamentary transfer upon death such as an inheritance; often relevant to tax laws.

intra muros

  • within the walls
  • description: Not public; source of the word intramural. See also Intramuros, Manila.

intra vires

  • within the powers
  • description: Within one’s authority

invenias etiam disiecti membra poetae

  • You would still recognize the scattered fragments of a poet
  • description: Horace, Satires, I, 4, 62, in reference to the earlier Roman poet Ennius

inveniet quod quisque velit

  • Each shall find what he desires
  • description: Attributed to Petronius[1] or Prudentius. Motto of Nature in Cambridgeshire:[2]
  • description: Inveniet quod quisque velit; non omnibus unum est, quod placet; hic spinas colligit, ille rosas.
  • description: (“Each shall find what he desires; no one thing pleases all; one gathers thorns, another roses.”)

ipsa scientia potestas est

  • knowledge itself is power
  • description: Famous phrase written by Sir Francis Bacon in 1597

ipse dixit

  • he himself said it
  • description: Commonly said in Medieval debates and referring to Aristotle. Used in general to emphasize that some assertion comes from some authority, i.e., as an argument from authority, and the term ipse-dixitism has come to mean any unsupported rhetorical assertion that lacks a logical argument. A literal translation by Cicero (in his De Natura Deorum 1.10) of the Greek «αὐτὸς ἔφα», an invocation by Pythagoreans when appealing to the pronouncements of the master.

ipsissima verba

  • the very words themselves
  • description: “Strictly word for word” (cf. verbatim). Often used in Biblical Studies to describe the record of Jesus’ teaching found in the New Testament (specifically, the four Gospels).

ipsissima voce

  • in the very ‘voice’ itself
  • description: To approximate the main thrust or message without using the exact words

ipso facto

  • by the fact itself
  • description: By that very fact

ira deorum

  • wrath of the gods
  • description: Like the vast majority of inhabitants of the ancient world, the ancient Romans practiced pagan rituals, believing it important to achieve a state of pax deorum (peace of the gods) instead of ira deorum (wrath of the gods): earthquakes, floods, famine, etc.

ira furor brevis est

  • Wrath (anger) is but a brief madness

ita vero

  • thus indeed
  • description: A useful phrase, as the Romans had no word for “yes”, preferring to respond to questions with the affirmative or negative of the question (e.g., “Are you hungry?” was answered by “I am hungry” or “I am not hungry”, not “Yes” or “No).

ite, missa est

  • Go, it is the dismissal
  • description: Loosely: “You have been dismissed”, literally “Go. Mass is over”. Concluding words addressed to the people in the Mass of the Roman Rite.[3]

iter legis

  • The path of the law
  • description: The path a law takes from its conception to its implementation

iucunda memoria est praeteritorum malorum

  • Pleasant is the memory of past troubles
  • description: Cicero, De finibus bonorum et malorum 2, 32, 105

iugulare mortuos

  • to cut the throat of corpses
  • description: From Gerhard Gerhards’ (1466–1536) [better known as Erasmus] collection of annotated Adagia (1508). It can mean attacking the work or personality of deceased person. Alternatively, it can be used to describe criticism of an individual already heavily criticised by others.

iuncta iuvant

  • together they strive
  • description: also spelled juncta juvant; from the legal principle quae non valeant singula, iuncta iuvant (“What is without value on its own, helps when joined”)

iura novit curia

  • the court knows the law
  • description: A legal principle in civil law countries of the Roman-German tradition that says that lawyers need not to argue the law, as that is the office of the court. Sometimes miswritten as iura novat curia (the court renews the laws).

iure matris

  • in right of his mother
  • description: Indicates a right exercised by a son on behalf of his mother

iure uxoris

  • in right of his wife
  • description: Indicates a right exercised by a husband on behalf of his wife

iuris ignorantia est cum ius nostrum ignoramus

  • it is ignorance of the law when we do not know our own rights

ius accrescendi

  • right of accrual
  • description: Commonly referred to as “right of survivorship”: a rule in property law that surviving joint tenants have rights in equal shares to a decedent’s property

ius ad bellum

  • law towards war
  • description: Refers to the laws that regulate the reasons for going to war. Typically, this would address issues of self-defense or preemptive strikes.

ius cogens

  • compelling law
  • description: Refers to a fundamental principle of international law considered to have acceptance among the international community of states as a whole. Typically, this would address issues not listed or defined by any authoritative body, but arise out of case law and changing social and political attitudes. Generally included are prohibitions on waging aggressive war, crimes against humanity, war crimes, piracy, genocide, slavery, and torture.

ius in bello

  • law in war
  • description: Refers to the “laws” that regulate the conduct of combatants during a conflict. Typically, this would address issues of who or what is a valid target, how to treat prisoners, and what sorts of weapons can be used. The word jus is also commonly spelled ius.

ius primae noctis

  • law of the first night
  • description: The droit de seigneur

iustitia omnibus

  • justice for all
  • description: The motto of Washington, D.C.


labor omnia vincit

  • Hard work conquers all.
  • description: Popular as a motto; derived from a phrase in Virgil’s Eclogue (X.69: omnia vincit Amor – “Love conquers all”); a similar phrase also occurs in his Georgics I.145.

labore et honore

  • By labour and honour

lacrimae rerum

  • The poignancy of things.
  • description: Virgil, Aeneid 1:462


  • lapse, slip, error; involuntary mistake made while writing or speaking

lapsus calami

  • inadvertent typographical error, slip of the pen

lapsus linguae

  • inadvertent speech error, slip of the tongue

lapsus memoriae

  • slip of memory
  • description: source of the term memory lapse

latius est impunitum relinqui facinus nocentis (quam innocentem damnari)

  • It is better to let the crime of the guilty go unpunished (than to condemn the innocent)
  • description: Ulpian, Digest 5:6.

laudator temporis acti

  • praiser of time past
  • description: One who is discontent with the present and instead prefers things of the past (“the good old days”). In Horace’s Ars Poetica, line 173. The motto of HMS Veteran

laudetur Jesus Christus

  • Praise (Be) Jesus Christ
  • description: Often used as a salutation, but also used after prayers or the reading of the gospel

laus Deo

  • praise be to God
  • description: Inscription on the east side at the peak of the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C.; motto of the Viscount of Arbuthnott and Sydney Grammar School

lectio brevior potior

  • The shorter reading is the better
  • description: A maxim in text criticism. Codified, but simultaneously refuted, by Marxist educators.[citation needed]

lectio difficilior potior

  • The more difficult reading is the stronger

lectori salutem (L. S.,)

  • greetings to the reader
  • description: Often abbreviated to L.S., used as opening words for a letter

lege artis

  • according to the law of the art
  • description: Denotes that a certain intervention is performed in a correct way. Used especially in a medical context. The ‘art’ referred to in the phrase is medicine.

legem terrae

  • the law of the land

leges humanae nascuntur, vivunt, et moriuntur

  • laws of man are born, live and die

leges sine moribus vanae

  • laws without morals [are] vain
  • description: From Horace’s Odes; motto of the University of Pennsylvania

legi, intellexi, et condemnavi

  • I read, understood, and condemned.


  • lawfully
  • description: In Roman and civil law, a forced share in an estate; the portion of the decedent’s estate from which the immediate family cannot be disinherited. From the French héritier legitime (rightful heir).

lex artis

  • law of the skill
  • description: The rules that regulate a professional duty.

lex ferenda

  • the law that should be borne
  • description: The law as it ought to be.

lex hac edictali

  • the law here proclaims
  • description: The rule whereby a spouse cannot by deed inter vivos or bequeath by testament to his or her second spouse more than the amount of the smallest portion given or bequeathed to any child.

lex in casu

  • law in the event
  • description: A law that only concerns one particular case. See law of the case.

lex lata

  • the law that has been borne
  • description: The law as it is.

lex loci

  • law of the place

lex non scripta

  • law that has not been written
  • description: Unwritten law, or common law

lex orandi, lex credendi

  • the law of prayer is the law of faith

lex parsimoniae

  • law of succinctness
  • description: also known as Occam’s Razor

lex rex

  • the law [is] king
  • description: A principle of government advocating a rule by law rather than by men. The phrase originated as a double entendre in the title of Samuel Rutherford’s controversial book Lex, Rex (1644), which espoused a theory of limited government and constitutionalism.

lex scripta

  • written law
  • description: Statutory law; contrasted with lex non scripta

lex talionis

  • the law of retaliation
  • description: Retributive justice (i.e., eye for an eye)

Libertas quae sera tamen

  • freedom which [is] however late
  • description: Liberty even when it comes late; motto of Minas Gerais, Brazil

libra (lb)

  • balance; scales
  • description: Its abbreviation lb is used as a unit of weight, the pound.

lignum crucis arbor scientiae

  • The wood of the cross is the tree of knowledge
  • description: School motto of Denstone College

littera scripta manet

  • The written word endures
  • description: Attributed to Horace

loco citato (lc)

  • in the place cited
  • description: More fully written in loco citato; see also opere citato

locum tenens

  • place holder
  • description: A worker who temporarily takes the place of another with similar qualifications, for example as a doctor or a member of the clergy; usually shortened to locum.

locus classicus

  • a classic place
  • description: The most typical or classic case of something; quotation which most typifies its use.

locus minoris resistentiae

  • place of less resistance
  • description: A medical term to describe a location on or in a body that offers little resistance to infection, damage, or injury. For example, a weakened place that tends to be reinjured.

locus poenitentiae

  • a place of repentance
  • description: A legal term, it is the opportunity of withdrawing from a projected contract, before the parties are finally bound; or of abandoning the intention of committing a crime, before it has been completed.

locus standi

  • A right to stand
  • description: Standing in law (the right to have one’s case in court)

longissimus dies cito conditur

lorem ipsum

  • sorrow itself; pain for its own sake
  • description: A mangled fragment from Cicero’s De Finibus Bonorum et Malorum (On the Limits of Good and Evil, 45 BC), used as typographer’s filler to show fonts (a.k.a. greeking). (The first syllable of lorem is cut off; the original was dolorem ipsum’).

luce veritatis

  • By the light of truth
  • description: School motto of Queen Margaret College

luceat lux vestra

  • Let your light shine
  • description: From Matthew Ch. 5 V. 16; popular as a school motto

lucida sidera

  • The shining stars
  • description: Horace, Carmina 1/3:2

lucus a non lucendo

  • [it is] a grove by not being light
  • description: From late 4th-century grammarian Honoratus Maurus, who sought to mock implausible word origins such as those proposed by Priscian. A pun based on the word lucus (dark grove) having a similar appearance to the verb lucere (to shine), arguing that the former word is derived from the latter word because of a lack of light in wooded groves. Often used as an example of absurd etymology, it derives from parum luceat (it does not shine [being darkened by shade]) by Quintilian in Institutio Oratoria.

lupus est homo homini

  • A man to a man is a wolf
  • description: Plautus’ adaptation of an old Roman proverb: homo homini lupus est (“man is a wolf to [his fellow] man”). In Asinaria, act II, scene IV, verse 89 [495 overall]. Lupus est homo homini, non homo, quom qualis sit non novit (“a man to a man is a wolf, not a man, when the other doesn’t know of what character he is.”)[2]

lupus in fabula

  • the wolf in the story
  • description: With the meaning “speak of the wolf, and he will come”; from Terence’s play Adelphoe.

lupus non mordet lupum

  • a wolf does not bite a wolf

lupus non timet canem latrantem

  • a wolf is not afraid of a barking dog

lux aeterna

  • eternal light
  • description: epitaph

lux et veritas

  • light and truth
  • description: A translation of the Hebrew Urim and Thummim. Motto of several institutions, including Yale University.

lux sit

  • let there be light
  • description: A more literal Latinization of the phrase; the most common translation is fiat lux, from Latin Vulgate Bible phrase chosen for the Genesis line “וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹהִים, יְהִי אוֹר; וַיְהִי-אוֹר” (And God said: ‘Let there be light.’ And there was light). Motto of the University of Washington.

lux tua nos ducat

  • Your light guides us


macte virtute sic itur ad astra

  • those who excel, thus reach the stars
  • description: or “excellence is the way to the stars”; frequent motto; from Virgil’s Aeneid IX.641 (English, Dryden)

magister dixit

  • the teacher has said it
  • description: Canonical medieval reference to Aristotle, precluding further discussion

magister meus Christus

  • Christ is my teacher
  • description: common Catholic edict and motto of a Catholic private school, Andrean High School in Merrillville, Indiana

Magna Carta

  • Great Charter
  • description: Set of documents from 1215 between Pope Innocent III, King John of England, and English barons.

magna cum laude

  • with great praise
  • description: Common Latin honor, above cum laude and below summa cum laude

magna di curant, parva neglegunt

  • The gods care about great matters, but they neglect small ones
  • description: Cicero, De Natura Deorum 2:167

magna est vis consuetudinis

  • great is the power of habit

Magna Europa est patria nostra

  • Greater Europe is Our Fatherland
  • description: Political motto of pan-Europeanists

magno cum gaudio

  • with great joy

magnum opus

  • great work
  • description: Said of someone’s masterpiece

magnum vectigal est parsimonia

  • Economy is a great revenue
  • description: Cicero, Paradoxa 6/3:49. Sometimes translated into English as “thrift (or frugality) is a great revenue (or income)”, edited from its original subordinate clause: “O di immortales! non intellegunt homines, quam magnum vectigal sit parsimonia.” (English: O immortal gods! Men do not understand what a great revenue is thrift.)

maior e longinquo reverentia

  • greater reverence from afar
  • description: When viewed from a distance, everything is beautiful. Tacitus, Annales 1.47

maiora premunt

  • greater things are pressing
  • description: Used to indicate that it is the moment to address more important, urgent, issues.

mala fide

  • in bad faith
  • description: Said of an act done with knowledge of its illegality, or with intention to defraud or mislead someone. Opposite of bona fide.

mala tempora currunt

  • bad times are upon us
  • description: Also used ironically, e.g.: New teachers know all tricks used by pupils to copy from classmates? Oh, mala tempora currunt!.

male captus bene detentus

  • wrongly captured, properly detained
  • description: An illegal arrest will not prejudice the subsequent detention/trial.

Malo periculosam libertatem quam quietam servitutem

  • I prefer liberty with danger to peace with slavery
  • description: Attributed to the Count Palatine of Posen before the Polish Diet, cited in The Social Contract by Jean-Jacques Rousseau

malum discordiae

  • apple of discord
  • description: Alludes to the apple of Eris in the Judgement of Paris, the mythological cause of the Trojan War. It is also a pun based on the near-homonymous word malum (evil). The word for “apple” has a long ā vowel in Latin and the word for “evil” a short a vowel, but they are normally written the same.

malum in se

  • wrong in itself
  • description: A legal term meaning that something is inherently wrong (cf. malum prohibitum).

malum prohibitum

  • wrong due to being prohibited
  • description: A legal term meaning that something is only wrong because it is against the law.

malum quo communius eo peius

  • the more common an evil is, the worse it is

manibus date lilia plenis

  • give lilies with full hands
  • description: A phrase from Virgil’s Aeneid, VI.883, mourning the death of Marcellus, Augustus’ nephew. Quoted by Dante as he leaves Virgil in Purgatory, XXX.21, echoed by Walt Whitman in Leaves of Grass III, 6.

manu militari

  • with a military hand
  • description: Using armed forces in order to achieve a goal

manu propria (m.p.)

  • with one’s own hand
  • description: With the implication of “signed by one’s hand”. Its abbreviated form is sometimes used at the end of typewritten or printed documents or official notices, directly following the name of the person(s) who “signed” the document exactly in those cases where there isn’t an actual handwritten signature.

manus manum lavat

  • one hand washes the other
  • description: famous quote from The Pumpkinification of Claudius, ascribed to Seneca the Younger.[1] It implies that one situation helps the other.

manus nigra

  • black hand

marcet sine adversario virtus

  • valor becomes feeble without an opponent
  • description: Seneca the Younger, De Providentia 2:4. Also, translated into English as “[their] strength and courage droop without an antagonist” (“Of Providence” (1900) by Seneca, translated by Aubrey Stewart),[2] “without an adversary, prowess shrivels” (Moral Essays (1928) by Seneca, translated by John W, Basore)[3] and “prowess withers without opposition”.

mare clausum

  • closed sea
  • description: In law, a sea under the jurisdiction of one nation and closed to all others.

mare liberum

  • free sea
  • description: In law, a sea open to international shipping navigation.

mare nostrum

  • our sea
  • description: A nickname given to the Mediterranean during the height of the Roman Empire, as it encompassed the entire coastal basin.

Mater Dei

  • Mother of God
  • description: A name given to describe Mary, who gave birth to Jesus, who is also called the Son of God.

mater familias

  • the mother of the family
  • description: The female head of a family. See pater familias.

mater lectionis

  • mother reading

Mater semper certa est

  • the mother is always certain
  • description: a Roman-law principle which has the power of praesumptio iuris et de iure, meaning that no counter-evidence can be made against this principle (literally: Presumed there is no counter evidence and by the law). Its meaning is that the mother of the child is always known.

materia medica

  • medical matter
  • description: Branch of medical science concerned with the study of drugs used in the treatment of disease. Also, the drugs themselves.

maxima debetur puero reverentia

  • greatest deference is owed to the child
  • description: from Juvenal’s Satires XIV:47

me vexat pede

  • it annoys me at the foot
  • description: Less literally, “my foot itches”. Refers to a trivial situation or person that is being a bother, possibly in the sense of wishing to kick that thing away or, such as the commonly used expressions, a “pebble in one’s shoe” or “nipping at one’s heels”.

mea culpa

  • through my fault
  • description: Used in Christian prayers and confession to denote the inherently flawed nature of mankind; can also be extended to mea maxima culpa (through my greatest fault).

mea navis aëricumbens anguillis abundat

  • My hovercraft is full of eels
  • description: A relatively common recent Latinization inspired by the Dirty Hungarian Phrasebook sketch by Monty Python.

media vita in morte sumus

  • In the midst of our lives we die
  • description: A well-known sequence, falsely attributed to Notker during the Middle Ages. It was translated by Cranmer and became a part of the burial service in the funeral rites of the Anglican Book of Common Prayer.

Mediolanum captum est

  • Milan has been captured
  • description: Used erroneously as Mediolanum Capta Est by the black metal band Mayhem as an album title. Mediolanum was an ancient city in present-day Milan, Italy.

Melius abundare quam deficere

  • Better too much than not enough.
  • description: Also used in elliptical form as melius abundare.


  • better things
  • description: Carrying the connotation of “always better”. The motto of the University of Rochester.

Meliorare legem meliorare vitam est

  • To improve the law is to improve life.
  • description: The motto of the Salem/Roanoke County, Virginia Bar Association.

Meliorem lapsa locavit

  • He has planted one better than the one fallen.
  • description: The motto of the Belmont County, Ohio, and the motto in the seal of the Northwest Territory

Melita, domi adsum

  • Honey, I’m home!
  • description: A relatively common recent Latinization from the joke phrasebook Latin for All Occasions. Grammatically correct, but the phrase would be anachronistic in ancient Rome.

memento mori

  • remember that [you will] die
  • description: remember your mortality

memento vivere

  • remember to live

meminerunt omnia amantes

  • lovers remember all

memores acti prudentes futuri

  • mindful of things done, aware of things to come
  • description: Thus, both remembering the past and foreseeing the future. From the North Hertfordshire District Council coat of arms.

Memoriae Sacrum (M.S.)

  • Sacred to the
  • description: A common first line on 17th century English church monuments. The Latinized name of the deceased follows, in the genitive case. Alternatively it may be used as a heading, the inscription following being in English, for example: “Memoriae Sacrum. Here lies the body of …”
  • Memory (of …)

mens agitat molem

  • the mind moves the mass
  • description: From Virgil; motto of several educational institutions

mens rea

  • guilty mind
  • description: Also “culprit mind”. A term used in discussing the mindset of an accused criminal.

mens sana in corpore sano

  • a sound mind in a sound body
  • description: Or “a sensible mind in a healthy body”. Satire X of the Roman poet Juvenal (10.356)

metri causa

  • for the sake of the metre
  • description: Excusing flaws in poetry “for the sake of the metre”

Miles Gloriosus

  • Glorious Soldier
  • description: Or “Boastful Soldier”. Miles Gloriosus is the title of a play of Plautus. A stock character in comedy, the braggart soldier. (It is said that at Salamanca, there is a wall, on which graduates inscribe their names, where Francisco Franco had a plaque installed reading “Franciscus Francus Miles Gloriosus”.)

miles praesidii libertatis

  • Soldier of the Bastion of Freedom
  • description: A phrase on the plaque in commemoration of Prof. Benjamin Marius Telders [nl], Academiegebouw Leiden [nl] (Netherlands).

mictus cruentus

  • bloody urine
  • description: see hematuria

minatur innocentibus qui parcit nocentibus

  • he threatens the innocent who spares the guilty

mirabile dictu

  • wonderful to tell
  • description: Virgil

mirabile visu

  • wonderful to see
  • description: A Roman phrase used to describe a wonderful event/happening.

mirum videtur quod sit factum iam diu

  • Does it seem wonderful [merely] because it was done a long time/so long ago?
  • description: Livius Andronicus, Aiax Mastigophorus.

miscerique probat populos et foedera jungi

  • He approves of the mingling of the peoples and their bonds of union
  • description: Latin Aeneid of Virgil, Book IV, line 112, “he” referring to the great Roman god, who approved of the settlement of Romans in Africa. Old Motto of Trinidad and Tobago, and used in the novel A Bend in the River by V. S. Naipaul.

misera est servitus ubi jus est aut incognitum aut vagum

  • miserable is that state of slavery in which the law is unknown or uncertain
  • description: Quoted by Samuel Johnson in his paper for James Boswell on Vicious intromission.

miserabile visu

  • terrible to see
  • description: A terrible happening or event.

miserere nobis

  • have mercy upon us
  • description: A phrase within the Gloria in Excelsis Deo and the Agnus Dei, to be used at certain points in Christian religious ceremonies.

Missio Dei

  • the Mission of God
  • description: A theological phrase in the Christian religion.

missit me Dominus

  • the Lord has sent me
  • description: A phrase used by Jesus.


  • we send
  • description: A warrant of commitment to prison, or an instruction for a jailer to hold someone in prison.

mobilis in mobili

  • “moving in a moving thing” or, poetically, “changing through the changing medium”
  • description: The motto of the Nautilus from the Jules Verne novel Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.

modus operandi (M.O.)

  • method of operating
  • description: Usually used to describe a criminal’s methods.

modus ponens

  • method of placing
  • description: Loosely “method of affirming”, a logical rule of inference stating that from propositions if P then Q and P, then one can conclude Q.

modus tollens

  • method of removing
  • description: Loosely “method of denying”, a logical rule of inference stating that from propositions if P then Q and not Q, then one can conclude not P.

modus vivendi

  • method of living
  • description: An accommodation between disagreeing parties to allow life to go on. A practical compromise.

Monasterium sine libris est sicut civitas sine opibus

  • A monastery without books is like a city without wealth
  • description: Used in the Umberto Eco novel The Name of the Rose. Part of a much larger phrase: Monasterium sine libris, est sicut civitas sine opibus, castrum sine numeris, coquina sine suppellectili, mensa sine cibis, hortus sine herbis, pratum sine floribus, arbor sine foliis. Translation: A monastery without books is like a city without wealth, a fortress without soldiers, a kitchen without utensils, a table without food, a garden without plants, a meadow without flowers, a tree without leaves.

montani semper liberi

  • mountaineers [are] always free
  • description: State motto of West Virginia, adopted in 1872.

Montis Insignia Calpe

  • Badge of the Rock of Gibraltar

more ferarum

  • like beasts
  • description: used to describe any sexual act in the manner of beasts

more suo

  • in his/her/its/their usual way

morior invictus

  • I die unvanquished[4]
  • description: sometimes also translated as “death before defeat”[4]

morituri nolumus mori

  • we who are about to die don’t want to
  • description: From Terry Pratchett’s The Last Hero

morituri te salutant

  • those who are about to die salute you
  • description: Used once in Suetonius’ De Vita Caesarum 5, (Divus Claudius), chapter 21,[5] by the condemned prisoners manning galleys about to take part in a mock naval battle on Lake Fucinus in 52 CE. Popular misconception ascribes it as a gladiator’s salute. See also: Ave Imperator, morituri te salutant and Naumachia.

mors certa, hora incerta

  • death is certain, its hour is uncertain

mors mihi lucrum

  • death to me is reward
  • description: A common epitaph, from St Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians, 1:21 (Mihi enim vivere Christus est et mori lucrum, translated in the King James Bible as: “For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain”)

mors omnibus

  • death to all
  • description: Signifies anger and depression.

mors tua, vita mea

  • your death, my life
  • description: From medieval Latin, it indicates that battle for survival, where your defeat is necessary for my victory, survival.

mors vincit omnia

  • “death conquers all” or “death always wins”
  • description: An axiom often found on headstones.

morte magis metuenda senectus

  • old age should rather be feared than death
  • description: from Juvenal in his Satires

mortui vivos docent

  • The dead teach the living
  • description: Used to justify dissections of human cadavers in order to understand the cause of death.

mortuum flagellas

  • you are flogging a dead
  • description: From Gerhard Gerhards’ (1466–1536) [better known as Erasmus] collection of annotated Adagia (1508). Criticising one who will not be affected in any way by the criticism.

mos maiorum

  • the custom of our ancestors
  • description: an unwritten code of laws and conduct, of the Romans. It institutionalized cultural traditions, societal mores, and general policies, as distinct from written laws.

motu proprio

  • on his own initiative
  • description: Or “by his own accord.” Identifies a class of papal documents, administrative papal bulls.

mulgere hircum

  • to milk a male goat
  • description: From Gerhard Gerhards’ (1466–1536) [better known as Erasmus] collection of annotated Adagia (1508). Attempting the impossible.

mulier est hominis confusio

  • woman is man’s ruin
  • description: “Part of a comic definition of woman” from the Altercatio Hadriani Augusti et Secundi.[6] Famously quoted by Chauntecleer in Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.

multa paucis

  • Say much in few words

multitudo sapientium sanitas orbis

  • a multitude of the wise is the health of the world
  • description: From the Vulgate, Wisdom of Solomon 6:24. Motto of the University of Victoria.

multum in parvo

  • much in little
  • description: Conciseness. The term “mipmap” is formed using the phrase’s abbreviation “MIP”; motto of Rutland, a county in central England.
  • description: Latin phrases are often multum in parvo, conveying much in few words.

mundus senescit

  • the world grows old

mundus vult decipi

  • the world wants to be deceived
  • description: Ascribed to Roman satirist Petronius. Also in Augustine of Hippo’s De Civitate Dei contra Paganos (5th century CE), Sebastian Franck’s Paradoxa Ducenta Octoginta (1542), and in James Branch Cabell’s 1921 novel Figures of Earth.[7][8][9][10]

mundus vult decipi, ergo decipiatur

  • the world wants to be deceived, so let it be deceived
  • description: Ascribed to Roman satirist Petronius. Also in Augustine of Hippo’s De Civitate Dei contra Paganos (5th century CE) as “si mundus vult decipi, decipiatur” (“if the world will be gulled, let it be gulled”), and only the first part, “mundus vult decipi” (“the world wants to be deceived”), in Sebastian Franck’s Paradoxa Ducenta Octoginta (1542) and in James Branch Cabell’s Figures of Earth (1921).

mutatis mutandis

  • after changing what needed to be changed
  • description: “with the appropriate changes”

mutato nomine de te fabula narratur

  • change but the name, and the story is told of yourself
  • description: Horace, Satires, I. 1. 69. Preceded by Quid rides? (“Why do you laugh?”; see Quid rides).


nanos gigantum humeris insidentes

  • Dwarfs standing on the shoulders of giants
  • description: First recorded by John of Salisbury in the twelfth century and attributed to Bernard of Chartres. Also commonly known by the letters of Isaac Newton: “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants”.

nascentes morimur finisque ab origine pendet

  • When we are born we die, our end is but the pendant of our beginning

nasciturus pro iam nato habetur, quotiens de commodis eius agitur

  • The unborn is deemed to have been born to the extent that his own inheritance is concerned
  • description: Refers to a situation where an unborn child is deemed to be entitled to certain inheritance rights.

natura abhorret a vacuo

  • nature abhors vacuum
  • description: Pseudo-explanation for why a liquid will climb up a tube to fill a vacuum, often given before the discovery of atmospheric pressure.

natura artis magistra

  • Nature is the teacher of art
  • description: The name of the zoo in the centre of Amsterdam; short: “Artis”.

natura nihil frustra facit

  • nature does nothing in vain
  • description: Cf. Aristotle: “οὐθὲν γάρ, ὡς φαμέν, μάτην ἡ φύσις ποιεῖ” (Politics I 2, 1253a9) and Leucippus: “Everything that happens does so for a reason and of necessity.”

natura non contristatur

  • nature is not saddened
  • description: That is, the natural world is not sentimental or compassionate. Derived by Arthur Schopenhauer from an earlier source.

natura non facit saltum ita nec lex

  • nature does not make a leap, thus neither does the law
  • description: Shortened form of “sicut natura nil facit per saltum ita nec lex” (just as nature does nothing by a leap, so neither does the law), referring to both nature and the legal system moving gradually.

natura non facit saltus

  • nature makes no leaps
  • description: A famous aphorism of Carl Linnaeus stating that all organisms bear relationships on all sides, their forms changing gradually from one species to the next. From Philosophia Botanica (1751).

natura valde simplex est et sibi consona

  • Nature is exceedingly simple and harmonious with itself
  • description: Sir Isaac Newton’s famous quote, defining foundation of all modern sciences. Can be found in his Unpublished Scientific Papers of Isaac Newton: A selection from the Portsmouth Collection in the University Library, Cambridge, 1978 edition[1]

naturalia non sunt turpia

  • What is natural is not dirty
  • description: Based on Servius’ commentary on Virgil’s Georgics (3:96): “turpis non est quia per naturam venit.”

naturam expellas furca, tamen usque recurret.

  • You may drive out Nature with a pitchfork, yet she still will hurry back
  • description: You must take the basic nature of something into account.
  • description: – Horace, Epistles, Book I, epistle X, line 24.

navigare necesse est, vivere non est necesse

  • to sail is necessary; to live is not necessary
  • description: Attributed by Plutarch to Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus, who, during a severe storm, commanded sailors to bring food from Africa to Rome. Translated from Plutarch’s Greek “πλεῖν ἀνάγκη, ζῆν οὐκ ἀνάγκη”.

ne plus ultra

  • nothing more beyond
  • description: Also nec plus ultra or non plus ultra. A descriptive phrase meaning the best or most extreme example of something. The Pillars of Hercules, for example, were literally the nec plus ultra of the ancient Mediterranean world. Holy Roman Emperor Charles V’s heraldic emblem reversed this idea, using a depiction of this phrase inscribed on the Pillars – as plus ultra, without the negation. The Boston Musical Instrument Company engraved ne plus ultra on its instruments from 1869 to 1928 to signify that none were better. Non plus ultra is the motto of the Spanish exclave Melilla.

ne puero gladium

  • do not give a sword to a boy
  • description: Never give dangerous tools to someone who is untrained to use them or too immature to understand the damage they can do.

ne supra crepidam sutor iudicaret

  • a shoemaker should not judge beyond the shoe
  • description: see Sutor, ne ultra crepidam

ne te quaesiveris extra

  • do not seek outside yourself
  • description: line from the Roman satirist Persius inscribed on the boulder to the right of Sir John Suckling in the painting of the aforementioned subject by Sir Anthony Van Dyck (ca. 1638) and invoked by Ralph Waldo Emerson at the opening of his essay Self-Reliance (1841)

Nec aspera terrent

  • They are not terrified of the rough things
  • description: They are not afraid of difficulties. Less literally “Difficulties be damned.” Motto for 27th Infantry Regiment (United States) and the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment. Nec = not; aspera = rough ones/things; terrent = they terrify / do terrify / are terrifying.

Nec deus intersit, nisi dignus vindice nodus (inciderit)

  • That a god not intervene, unless a knot show up that be worthy of such an untangler
  • description: “When the miraculous power of God is necessary, let it be resorted to: when it is not necessary, let the ordinary means be used.” From Horace’s Ars Poetica as a caution against deus ex machina.

nec dextrorsum, nec sinistrorsum

  • Neither to the right nor to the left
  • description: Do not get distracted. Motto for Bishop Cotton Boys’ School and the Bishop Cotton Girls’ School, both located in Bangalore, India.

nec spe, nec metu

  • without hope, without fear

nec tamen consumebatur

  • and yet it was not consumed
  • description: Refers to the Burning Bush of Exodus 3:2. Motto of many Presbyterian churches throughout the world.

nec vi, nec clam, nec precario

  • Without permission, without secrecy, without interruption
  • description: The law of adverse possession

neca eos omnes, Deus suos agnoscet

  • kill them all, God will know his own
  • description: alternate rendition of Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius. by Arnaud Amalric

necesse est aut imiteris aut oderis

  • you must either imitate or loathe the world
  • description: Seneca the Younger, Epistulae morales ad Lucilium, 7:7

necessitas etiam timidos fortes facit

nemine contradicente (nem. con., N.C.D.)

  • with no one speaking against
  • description: Less literally, “without dissent”. Used especially in committees, where a matter may be passed nem. con., or unanimously, or with unanimous consent.

nemo contra Deum nisi Deus ipse

  • No one against God except God himself
  • description: From Goethe’s autobiography From my Life: Poetry and Truth, p. 598

nemo dat quod non habet

  • no one gives what he does not have
  • description: Thus, “none can pass better title than they have”

nemo est supra legem

  • nobody is above the law; or nemo est supra leges, nobody is above the laws

Nemo igitur vir magnus sine aliquo adflatu divino umquam fuit

  • No great man ever existed who did not enjoy some portion of divine inspiration
  • description: From Cicero’s De Natura Deorum, Book 2, chapter LXVI, 167[2]

nemo iudex in causa sua

  • no man shall be a judge in his own cause
  • description: Legal principle that no individual can preside over a hearing in which he holds a specific interest or bias

nemo malus felix

  • peace visits not the guilty mind
  • description: Also translated to “no rest for the wicked.” Refers to the inherent psychological issues that plague bad/guilty people.

nemo mortalium omnibus horis sapit

  • No mortal is wise at all times
  • description: The wisest may make mistakes.

nemo nisi per amicitiam cognoscitur

  • No one learns except by friendship
  • description: Used to imply that one must like a subject in order to study it.

nemo propheta in patria (sua)

  • no man is a prophet in his own land
  • description: Concept present in all four Gospels (Matthew 13:57; Mark 6:4; Luke 4:24; John 4:44).

nemo saltat sobrius

  • Nobody dances sober
  • description: The short and more common form of Nemo enim fere saltat sobrius, nisi forte insanit, “Nobody dances sober, unless he happens to be insane,” a quote from Cicero (from the speech Pro Murena).

nemo tenetur se ipsum accusare

  • no one is bound to accuse himself (the right to silence)
  • description: A maxim banning mandatory self-incrimination. Near-synonymous with accusare nemo se debet nisi coram Deo. Similar phrases include: nemo tenetur armare adversarium contra se (no one is bound to arm an opponent against himself), meaning that a defendant is not obligated to in any way assist the prosecutor to his own detriment; nemo tenetur edere instrumenta contra se (no one is bound to produce documents against himself, meaning that a defendant is not obligated to provide materials to be used against himself (this is true in Roman law and has survived in modern criminal law, but no longer applies in modern civil law); and nemo tenere prodere se ipsum (no one is bound to betray himself), meaning that a defendant is not obligated to testify against himself.

neque semper arcum tendit Apollo

  • nor does Apollo always keep his bow drawn
  • description: Horace, Carmina 2/10:19-20. The same image appears in a fable of Phaedrus.

Ne quid nimis

  • Nothing in excess

nervos belli, pecuniam infinitam

  • Endless money forms the sinews of war
  • description: In war, it is essential to be able to purchase supplies and to pay troops (as Napoleon put it, “An army marches on its stomach”).

nihil ad rem

  • nothing to do with the point
  • description: That is, in law, irrelevant and/or inconsequential.

nihil dicit

  • he says nothing
  • description: In law, a declination by a defendant to answer charges or put in a plea.

nihil enim lacrima citius arescit

  • nothing dries sooner than a tear
  • description: Pseudo-Cicero, Ad Herrenium, 2/31:50

nihil humanum mihi alienum

  • nothing human is alien to me
  • description: Adapted from Terence’s Heauton Timorumenos (The Self-Tormentor), homo sum humani a me nihil alienum puto (“I am a human being; nothing human is strange to me”). Sometimes ending in est.

nihil in intellectu nisi prius in sensu

  • nothing in the intellect unless first in sense
  • description: The guiding principle of empiricism, and accepted in some form by Aristotle, Aquinas, Locke, Berkeley, and Hume. Leibniz, however, added nisi intellectus ipse (except the intellect itself).

nihil nimis

  • nothing too
  • description: Or nothing to excess. Latin translation of the inscription of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi.

nihil novi

  • nothing of the new
  • description: Or just “nothing new”. The phrase exists in two versions: as nihil novi sub sole (nothing new under the sun), from the Vulgate, and as nihil novi nisi commune consensu (nothing new unless by the common consensus), a 1505 law of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth and one of the cornerstones of its Golden Liberty.

nihil obstat

  • nothing prevents
  • description: A notation, usually on a title page, indicating that a Roman Catholic censor has reviewed the book and found nothing objectionable to faith or morals in its content. See also imprimatur.

nil admirari

  • be surprised at nothing
  • description: Or “nihil admirari”. Cicero, Tusculanae Disputationes (3,30), Horace, Epistulae (1,6,1), and Seneca, Epistulae morales ad Lucilium, (8,5). Motto of the Fitzgibbon family. See John FitzGibbon, 1st Earl of Clare

nil desperandum

  • nothing must be despaired at
  • description: That is, “never despair”.

nil igitur fieri de nilo posse fatendumst

  • nothing, therefore, we must confess, can be made from nothing
  • description: From Lucretius’ De rerum natura (On the Nature of Things), I.205

Nil igitur mors est ad nos

  • Death, therefore, is nothing to us
  • description: From Lucretius’ De rerum natura (On the Nature of Things), III.831

nil mortalibus ardui est

  • nothing is impossible for humankind
  • description: From Horace’s Odes. Motto of Rathkeale College, New Zealand and Brunts School, England.

nil nisi bonum

  • (about the dead say) nothing unless (it is) good
  • description: Short for nil nisi bonum de mortuis dicere. That is, “Don’t speak ill of anyone who has died”. Also “Nil magnum nisi bonum” (nothing is great unless good), motto of St Catherine’s School, Toorak, Pennant Hills High School and Petit Seminaire Higher Secondary School.

nil per os, rarely non per os (n.p.o.)

  • nothing through the mouth
  • description: Medical shorthand indicating that oral foods and fluids should be withheld from the patient.

nil sine numine

  • nothing without the divine will
  • description: Or “nothing without providence”. State motto of Colorado, adopted in 1861. Probably derived from Virgil’s Aeneid Book II, line 777, “non haec sine numine divum eveniunt” (these things do not come to pass without the will of Heaven). See also numen.

nil volentibus arduum

  • Nothing [is] arduous for the willing
  • description: Nothing is impossible for the willing

nisi Dominus frustra

  • if not the Lord, [it is] in vain
  • description: That is, “everything is in vain without God”. Summarized from Psalm 127 (126 Vulgate), nisi Dominus aedificaverit domum in vanum laboraverunt qui aedificant eam nisi Dominus custodierit civitatem frustra vigilavit qui custodit (unless the Lord builds the house, they work on a useless thing who build it; unless the Lord guards the community, he keeps watch in vain who guards it); widely used motto.

nisi paria non pugnant

  • it takes two to make a fight
  • description: Irascetur aliquis: tu contra beneficiis prouoca; cadit statim simultas ab altera parte deserta; nisi paria non pugnant. (If any one is angry with you, meet his anger by returning benefits for it: a quarrel which is only taken up on one side falls to the ground: it takes two men to fight.) Seneca the Younger, De Ira (On Anger): Book 2, cap. 34, line 5.

nisi prius

  • unless previously
  • description: In England, a direction that a case be brought up to Westminster for trial before a single judge and jury. In the United States, a court where civil actions are tried by a single judge sitting with a jury, as distinguished from an appellate court.

nitimur in vetitum

  • We strive for the forbidden
  • description: From Ovid’s Amores, III.4:17. It means that when we are denied of something, we will eagerly pursue the denied thing. Used by Friedrich Nietzsche in his Ecce Homo to indicate that his philosophy pursues what is forbidden to other philosophers.

nobis bene, nemini male

  • Good for us, Bad for no one
  • description: Inscription on the old Nobistor [de] gatepost that divided Altona and St. Pauli

nolens volens

  • unwilling, willing
  • description: That is, “whether unwillingly or willingly”. Sometimes rendered volens nolens, aut nolens aut volens or nolentis volentis. Similar to willy-nilly, though that word is derived from Old English will-he nil-he ([whether] he will or [whether] he will not).

noli me tangere

  • do not touch me
  • description: Commonly translated “touch me not”. According to the Gospel of John, this was said by Jesus to Mary Magdalene after his resurrection.

noli turbare circulos meos

  • Do not disturb my circles!
  • description: That is, “Don’t upset my calculations!” Said by Archimedes to a Roman soldier who, despite having been given orders not to, killed Archimedes at the conquest of Syracuse, Sicily.

nolite te bastardes carborundorum

  • Don’t let the bastards grind you down
  • description: From The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood – the protagonist (Offred) finds the phrase inscribed on the inside of her wardrobe. One of many variants of Illegitimi non carborundum.

(Dog Latin)

nolle prosequi

  • to be unwilling to prosecute
  • description: A legal motion by a prosecutor or other plaintiff to drop legal charges, usually in exchange for a diversion program or out-of-court settlement.

nolo contendere

  • I do not wish to contend
  • description: That is, “no contest”. A plea that can be entered on behalf of a defendant in a court that states that the accused doesn’t admit guilt, but will accept punishment for a crime. Nolo contendere pleas cannot be used as evidence in another trial.

nomen amicitiae sic, quatenus expedit, haeret

  • the name of friendship lasts just so long as it is profitable
  • description: Petronius, Satyricon, 80.

nomen dubium

  • doubtful name
  • description: A scientific name of unknown or doubtful application.

nomen est omen

  • the name is a sign
  • description: Thus, “true to its name”.

nomen nescio (N.N.)

  • I do not know the name
  • description: Thus, the name or person in question is unknown.

nomen nudum

  • naked name
  • description: A purported scientific name that does not fulfill the proper formal criteria and therefore cannot be used unless it is subsequently proposed correctly.

non auro, sed ferro, recuperanda est patria

  • Not gold, but iron redeems the native land
  • description: According to some roman this sentence was said by Marcus Furius Camillus to Brennus, the chief of the Gauls, after he demanded more gold from the citizens of the recently sacked Rome in 390 BC.

non bis in idem

  • not twice in the same thing
  • description: A legal principle forbidding double jeopardy.

non canimus surdis, respondent omnia silvae

  • we sing not to the deaf; the trees echo every word
  • description: Virgil, Eclogues 10:8

non causa pro causa

  • not the cause for the cause
  • description: Also known as the “questionable cause” or “false cause”. Refers to any logical fallacy where a cause is incorrectly identified.

non compos mentis

  • not in control of the mind
  • description: See compos mentis. Also rendered non compos sui (not in control of himself). Samuel Johnson, author of the first English dictionary, theorized that the word nincompoop may derive from this phrase.

non constat

  • it is not certain
  • description: Used to explain scientific phenomena and religious advocations, for example in medieval history, for rulers to issue a ‘Non Constat’ decree, banning the worship of a holy figure. In legal context, occasionally a backing for nulling information that was presented by an attorney. Without any tangible proof, Non constat information is difficult to argue for.

non est factum

  • it is not [my] deed
  • description: a doctrine in contract law that allows a signing party to escape performance of the agreement. A claim of “non est factum” means that the signature on the contract was signed by mistake, without knowledge of its meaning, but was not done so negligently. A successful plea would make the contract void ab initio.

non est princeps super leges, sed leges supra principem

  • the prince is not above the laws, but the law is above the prince.
  • description: Pliny the Younger, Panegyricus 65:1.

non facias malum ut inde fiat bonum

  • you should not make evil in order that good may be made from it
  • description: More simply, “don’t do wrong to do right”. The direct opposite of the phrase “the ends justify the means”.

non hos quaesitum munus in usus

  • A gift sought for no such purpose
  • description: Virgil, Aeneid, 4:647, of the sword with which Dido will commit suicide. “Not for so dire an enterprise design’d.” (Dryden trans.; 1697)[3] “A gift asked for no use like this.” (Mackail trans.; 1885).[4] “Ne’er given for an end so dire.” (Taylor trans.; 1907)[5] “A gift not asked for use like this!” (Williams trans.; 1910).[6] Quoted by Francis Bacon of the civil law, “not made for the countries it governeth”.

non in legendo sed in intelligendo leges consistunt

  • the laws depend not on being read, but on being understood

non liquet

  • it is not proven
  • description: Also “it is not clear” or “it is not evident”. A sometimes controversial decision handed down by a judge when they feel that the law is not complete.

Non nobis Domine

  • Not to us (oh) Lord
  • description: Christian hymn based on Psalm 115.

non nobis solum

  • not for ourselves alone
  • description: Appears in Cicero’s De Officiis Book 1:22 in the form non nobis solum nati sumus (we are not born for ourselves alone). Motto of Lower Canada College, Montreal and University College, Durham University, and Willamette University.

non numerantur, sed ponderantur

  • they are not counted, but weighed
  • description: Old saying. Paul Erdős (1913–1996), in The Man Who Loved Only Numbers by Paul Hoffman [7]

non obstante veredicto

  • not standing in the way of a verdict
  • description: A judgment notwithstanding verdict, a legal motion asking the court to reverse the jury’s verdict on the grounds that the jury could not have reached such a verdict reasonably.

non olet

non omnia possumus omnest

  • not everyone can do everything
  • description: Virgil, Eclogues 8:63 (and others).

non omnis moriar

  • I shall not all die
  • description: Horace, Carmina 3/30:6. “Not all of me will die”, a phrase expressing the belief that a part of the speaker will survive beyond death.

non plus ultra

  • nothing further beyond
  • description: the ultimate. See also ‘ne plus ultra’

non possumus

  • not possible

non possunt primi esse omnes omni in tempore

  • not everyone can occupy the first rank forever
  • description: (It is impossible always to excel) Decimus Laberius.

non progredi est regredi

  • to not go forward is to go backward

non prosequitur

  • he does not proceed
  • description: A judgment in favor of a defendant when the plaintiff failed to take the necessary steps in an action within the time allowed.

non scholae sed vitae

  • [We learn] not for school but for life
  • description: An inversion of non vitae sed scholae now used as a school motto

non qui parum habet, set qui plus cupit, pauper est

  • It is not he who has little, but he who wants more, who is the pauper.
  • description: Seneca the Younger, Epistulae morales ad Lucilium, 2:6.

non quis sed quid

  • not who but what
  • description: Used in the sense “what matters is not who says it but what he says” – a warning against ad hominem arguments; frequently used as motto, including that of Southwestern University.

non sequitur

  • it does not follow
  • description: In general, a comment which is absurd due to not making sense in its context (rather than due to being inherently nonsensical or internally inconsistent), often used in humor. As a logical fallacy, a conclusion that does not follow from a premise.

non serviam

  • I will not serve
  • description: Possibly derived from a Vulgate mistranslation of the Book of Jeremiah. Commonly used in literature as Satan’s statement of disobedience to God, though in the original context the quote is attributed to Israel, not Satan.

non sibi

  • Not for self
  • description: A slogan used by many schools and universities.

non sibi, sed patriae

  • Not for self, but for country
  • description: Engraved on the doors of the United States Naval Academy chapel; motto of the USS Halyburton (FFG-40).

non sibi, sed suis

  • Not for one’s self but for one’s own
  • description: A slogan used by many schools and universities.

non sibi, sed omnibus

  • Not for one’s self but for all
  • description: A slogan used by many schools and universities.

non sic dormit, sed vigilat

  • Sleeps not but is awake
  • description: Martin Luther on mortality of the soul.

non silba, sed anthar; Deo vindice

  • Not for self, but for others; God will vindicate
  • description: A slogan used by the Ku Klux Klan

non sum qualis eram

  • I am not such as I was
  • description: Or “I am not the kind of person I once was”. Expresses a change in the speaker. Horace, Odes 4/1:3.

non teneas aurum totum quod splendet ut aurum

  • Do not hold as gold all that shines as gold
  • description: Also, “All that glitters is not gold.” Shakespeare in The Merchant of Venice.

non timebo mala

  • I will fear no evil
  • description: It is possibly a reference to Psalm 23. Printed on the Colt in Supernatural.

non vitae sed scholae

  • [We learn] not for life but for schooltime
  • description: From a passage of occupatio in Seneca the Younger’s moral letters to Lucilius,[8] wherein Lucilius is given the argument that too much literature fails to prepare students for life

non vi, sed verbo

  • Not by force, but by the word [of God]
  • description: From Martin Luther’s “Invocavit Sermons” preached in March, 1522, against the Zwickau prophets unrest in Wittenberg;[9] later echoed in the Augsburg Confession as …sine vi humana, sed Verbo: bishops should act “without human force, but through the Word”.[10]

nosce te ipsum

  • know thyself
  • description: From Cicero, based on the Greek γνῶθι σεαυτόν (gnothi seauton), inscribed on the pronaos of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, according to the Greek periegetic writer Pausanias (10.24.1). A non-traditional Latin rendering, temet nosce (thine own self know), is translated in The Matrix as “know thyself”.

noscitur a sociis

  • a word is known by the company it keeps
  • description: In statutory interpretation, when a word is ambiguous, its meaning may be determined by reference to the rest of the statute.

noster nostri

  • Literally “Our ours”
  • description: Approximately “Our hearts beat as one.”

Nota bene

  • mark well
  • description: That is, “please note” or “note it well”.

novus ordo seclorum

  • new order of the ages
  • description: From Virgil. Motto on the Great Seal of the United States. Similar to Novus Ordo Mundi (New World Order).

nulla dies sine linea

  • Not a day without a line drawn
  • description: Pliny the Elder attributes this maxim to Apelles, an ancient Greek artist.

nulla dies umquam memori vos eximet aevo

  • No day shall erase you from the memory of time
  • description: From Virgil’s Aeneid, Book IX, line 447, on the episode of Nisus and Euryalus.

nulla poena sine lege

  • no penalty without a law
  • description: Refers to the legal principle that one cannot be punished for doing something that is not prohibited by law, and is related to Nullum crimen, nulla poena sine praevia lege poenali.

nulla quaestio

  • there is no question, there is no issue

nullam rem natam

  • no thing born
  • description: That is, “nothing”. It has been theorized that this expression is the origin of Italian nulla, French rien, and Spanish and Portuguese nada, all with the same meaning.

nullum crimen, nulla poena sine praevia lege poenali

  • no crime, no punishment without a previous penal law
  • description: Legal principle meaning that one cannot be penalised for doing something that is not prohibited by law; penal law cannot be enacted retroactively.

nullum magnum ingenium sine mixtura dementiae fuit

  • There has been no great wisdom without an element of madness

numen lumen

  • God our light
  • description: The motto of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The motto of Elon University.

numerus clausus

  • closed number
  • description: A method to limit the number of students who may study at a university.

nunc dimittis

  • now you send
  • description: beginning of the Song of Simeon, from the Gospel of Luke.

nunc est bibendum

  • now is the time to drink
  • description: Carpe-Diem-type phrase from the Odes of Horace, Nunc est bibendum, nunc pede libero pulsanda tellus (Now is the time to drink, now the time to dance footloose upon the earth).

nunc pro tunc

  • now for then
  • description: Something that has retroactive effect, is effective from an earlier date.

nunc scio quid sit amor

  • now I know what love is
  • description: From Virgil, Eclogues VIII.

nunquam minus solus quam cum solus

  • never less alone than when alone

nunquam non paratus

  • never unprepared, ever ready, always ready
  • description: frequently used as motto

nunquam obliviscar

  • never forget


O Deus ego amo te

  • O God I Love You
  • description: attributed to Saint Francis Xavier

O fortunatos nimium sua si bona norint, agricolas

  • The farmers would count themselves lucky, if only they knew how good they had it
  • description: from Virgil in Georgics, 458

o homines ad servitutem paratos

  • Men ready to be slaves!
  • description: attributed (in Tacitus, Annales, III, 65) to the Roman Emperor Tiberius, in disgust at the servile attitude of Roman senators; said of those who should be leaders but instead slavishly follow the lead of others

O tempora, o mores!

  • Oh, the times! Oh, the morals!
  • description: also translated “What times! What customs!”; from Cicero, Catilina I, 2

O Tite tute Tati tibi tanta tyranne tulisti

  • O tyrant Titus Tatius, what terrible calamities you brought onto yourself!
  • description: from Quintus Ennius, Annales (104), considered an example of a Latin tongue-twister

obiit (ob.)

  • one died
  • description: “He/she died”, inscription on gravestones; ob. also sometimes stands for obiter (in passing or incidentally)

obit anus, abit onus

  • The old woman dies, the burden is lifted
  • description: Arthur Schopenhauer

obiter dictum

  • a thing said in passing
  • description: in law, an observation by a judge on some point of law not directly relevant to the case before him, and thus neither requiring his decision nor serving as a precedent, but nevertheless of persuasive authority. In general, any comment, remark or observation made in passing

obliti privatorum, publica curate

  • Forget private affairs, take care of public ones
  • description: Roman political saying which reminds that common good should be given priority over private matters for any person having a responsibility in the State

obscuris vera involvens

  • the truth being enveloped by obscure things
  • description: from Virgil

obscurum per obscurius

  • the obscure by means of the more obscure
  • description: An explanation that is less clear than what it tries to explain; synonymous with ignotum per ignotius

obtorto collo

  • with a twisted neck
  • description: unwillingly

oculus dexter (O.D.)

  • right eye
  • description: Ophthalmologist shorthand

oculus sinister (O.S.)

  • left eye

oderint dum metuant

  • let them hate, so long as they fear
  • description: favorite saying of Caligula, attributed originally to Lucius Accius, Roman tragic poet (170 BC)

odi et amo

  • I hate and I love
  • description: opening of Catullus 85; the entire poem reads, “odi et amo quare id faciam fortasse requiris / nescio sed fieri sentio et excrucior” (I hate and I love. Why do I do this, you perhaps ask. / I do not know, but I feel it happening to me and I am burning up.)

odi profanum vulgus et arceo

  • I hate the unholy rabble and keep them away
  • description: Horace, Carmina III, 1

odium theologicum

  • theological hatred
  • description: name for the special hatred generated in theological disputes

oleum camino

  • (pour) oil on the fire
  • description: from Erasmus’ (1466–1536) collection of annotated Adagia

omne ignotum pro magnifico

  • every unknown thing [is taken] for great
  • description: or “everything unknown appears magnificent” The source is Tacitus: Agricola, Book 1, 30 where the sentence ends with ‘est’. The quotation is found in Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes short story “The Red-Headed League” (1891) where the ‘est’ is missing.

omne initium difficile est

  • every beginning is difficult

omne vivum ex ovo

  • every living thing is from an egg
  • description: foundational concept of modern biology, opposing the theory of spontaneous generation

Omnes homines sunt asini vel homines et asini sunt asini

  • All men are donkeys or men and donkeys are donkeys
  • description: a sophisma proposed and solved by Albert of Saxony (philosopher)

omnes vulnerant, postuma necat or omnes feriunt, ultima necat

  • all [the hours] wound, last one kills
  • description: usual in clocks, reminding the reader of death

omnia cum deo

  • all with God
  • description: motto for Mount Lilydale Mercy College, Lilydale, Victoria, Australia

omnia dicta fortiora si dicta Latina

  • everything said [is] stronger if said in Latin
  • description: or “everything sounds more impressive when said in Latin”; a more common phrase with the same meaning is quidquid Latine dictum sit altum videtur (whatever said in Latin, seems profound)

omnia in mensura et numero et pondere disposuisti

  • Thou hast ordered all things in measure, and number, and weight.
  • description: Book of Wisdom, 11:21

Omnia mea mecum porto

  • All that is mine I carry with me
  • description: is a quote that Cicero ascribes to Bias of Priene

omnia mutantur, nihil interit

  • everything changes, nothing perishes
  • description: Ovid (43 BCE – 17 CE), Metamorphoses, book XV, line 165

omnia omnibus

  • all things to all men
  • description: 1 Corinthians 9:22

si omnia ficta

  • if all (the words of poets) is fiction
  • description: Ovid, Metamorphoses, book XIII, lines 733–4: “si non omnia vates ficta”

omnia vincit amor

  • love conquers all
  • description: Virgil (70 BCE – 19 BC), Eclogue X, line 69

omnia munda mundis

  • everything [is] pure to the pure [men]
  • description: from The New Testament

omnia praesumuntur legitime facta donec probetur in contrarium

  • all things are presumed to be lawfully done, until it is shown [to be] in the reverse
  • description: in other words, “innocent until proven guilty”

omnis vir enim sui

  • Every man for himself!

omnibus locis fit caedes

  • There is slaughter everywhere (in every place)
  • description: Julius Caesar’s The Gallic War, 7.67

omnis traductor traditor

  • every translator is a traitor
  • description: every translation is a corruption of the original; the reader should take heed of unavoidable imperfections

omnium gatherum

  • gathering of all
  • description: miscellaneous collection or assortment; “gatherum” is English, and the term is used often used facetiously

onus probandi

  • burden of proof

onus procedendi

  • burden of procedure
  • description: burden of a party to adduce evidence that a case is an exception to the rule

opera omnia

  • all works
  • description: collected works of an author

opera posthuma

  • posthumous works
  • description: works published after the author’s death

operari sequitur esse

  • act of doing something follows the act of being
  • description: scholastic phrase, used to explain that there is no possible act if there is not being: being is absolutely necessary for any other act

opere citato (op. cit.)

  • in the work that was cited
  • description: used in academic works when referring again to the last source mentioned or used

opere et veritate

  • in action and truth
  • description: doing what you believe is morally right through everyday actions

opere laudato (op. laud.)

  • description: See opere citato

operibus anteire

  • leading the way with deeds
  • description: to speak with actions instead of words

ophidia in herba

  • a snake in the grass
  • description: any hidden danger or unknown risk

opinio juris sive necessitatis

  • an opinion of law or necessity
  • description: a belief that an action was undertaken because it was a legal necessity; source of customary law

opus anglicanum

  • English work
  • description: fine embroidery, especially used to describe church vestments

Opus Dei

  • The Work of God
  • description: Catholic organisation

ora et labora

  • pray and work
  • description: This principle of the Benedictine monasteries reads in full: “Ora et labora (et lege), Deus adest sine mora.” “Pray and work (and read), God is there without delay” (or to keep the rhyme: “Work and pray, and God is there without delay”)

ora pro nobis

  • pray for us
  • description: “Sancta Maria, mater Dei, ora pro nobis pecatoribus”; Brazilian name for Pereskia aculeata

oratio recta

  • direct speech
  • description: expressions from Latin grammar

oratio obliqua

  • indirect speech

orbis non sufficit

  • the world does not suffice or the world is not enough
  • description: from Satires of Juvenal (Book IV/10), referring to Alexander the Great; James Bond’s adopted family motto in the novel On Her Majesty’s Secret Service; it made a brief appearance in the film adaptation of the same name and was later used as the title of the nineteenth James Bond film, The World Is Not Enough.

orbis unum

  • one world
  • description: seen in The Legend of Zorro

ordo ab chao

  • out of chaos, comes order
  • description: one of the oldest mottos of Craft Freemasonry.[1]

(oremus) pro invicem

  • (Let us pray), one for the other; let us pray for each other
  • description: Popular salutation for Roman Catholic clergy at the beginning or ending of a letter or note. Usually abbreviated OPI. (“Oremus” used alone is just “let us pray”).



  • Ablative form of peace
  • description: “With all due respect to”, “with due deference to”, “by leave of”, “no offence to”, or “despite (with respect)”. Used to politely acknowledge someone with whom the speaker or writer disagrees or finds irrelevant to the main argument.

pace tua

  • with your peace
  • description: Thus, “with your permission”.

Pacem in terris

  • Peace on Earth

pacta sunt servanda

  • agreements must be kept
  • description: Also “contracts must be honoured”. Indicates the binding power of treaties.

palma non sine pulvere

  • no reward without effort
  • description: Also “dare to try”; motto of numerous schools.

palmam qui meruit ferat

  • He who has earned the palm, let him bear it.
  • description: Loosely, “achievement should be rewarded” (or, “let the symbol of victory go to him who has deserved it”); frequently used motto

panem et circenses

  • bread and circuses
  • description: From Juvenal, Satire X, line 81. Originally described all that was needed for emperors to placate the Roman mob. Today used to describe any entertainment used to distract public attention from more important matters.

parvus pendetur fur, magnus abire videtur

  • The petty thief is hanged, the big thief gets away.

para bellum

  • prepare for war
  • description: From “Si vis pacem para bellum”: if you want peace, prepare for war—if a country is ready for war, its enemies are less likely to attack. Usually used to support a policy of peace through strength (deterrence). In antiquity, however, the Romans viewed peace as the aftermath of successful conquest through war, so in this sense the proverb identifies war as the means through which peace will be achieved.

parce sepulto

  • forgive the interred
  • description: it is ungenerous to hold resentment toward the dead. Quote from the Aeneid, III 13-68.

parens patriae

  • parent of the nation
  • description: A public policy requiring courts to protect the best interests of any child involved in a lawsuit. See also Pater Patriae.

pari passu

  • with equal step
  • description: Thus, “moving together”, “simultaneously”, etc.

parturiunt montes, nascetur ridiculus mus

  • The mountains are in labour, a ridiculous mouse will be born.
  • description: said of works that promise much at the outset but yield little in the end (Horace, Ars poetica 137) – see also The Mountain in Labour

parum luceat

  • It does not shine [being darkened by shade].
  • description: Quintilian, Institutio Oratoria, 1/6:34 – see also lucus a nonlucendo

parva sub ingenti

  • the small under the huge
  • description: Implies that the weak are under the protection of the strong, rather than that they are inferior. Motto of Prince Edward Island.


  • here and there, everywhere
  • description: Less literally, “throughout” or “frequently”. Said of a word, fact or notion that occurs several times in a cited text. Also used in proofreading, where it refers to a change that is to be repeated everywhere needed.

pater familias

  • father of the family
  • description: Or “master of the house”. The eldest male in a family, who held patria potestas (“paternal power”). In Roman law, a father had enormous power over his children, wife, and slaves, though these rights dwindled over time. Derived from the phrase pater familias, an Old Latin expression preserving the archaic -as ending for the genitive case.

Pater Omnipotens

  • Father Almighty
  • description: A more direct translation would be “omnipotent father”.

Pater Patriae

  • father of the nation
  • description: Also rendered with the gender-neutral parens patriae (“parent of the nation”).

pater peccavi

  • Father, I have sinned
  • description: The traditional beginning of a Roman Catholic confession.

pauca sed bona

  • few, but good
  • description: Similar to “quality over quantity”; though there may be few of something, at least they are of good quality.

pauca sed matura

  • few, but ripe
  • description: Said to be one of Carl Gauss’s favorite quotations. Used in The King and I by Rodgers and Hammerstein.

paulatim ergo certe

  • slowly therefore surely
  • description: Former motto of Latymer Upper School in London (the text latim er is concealed in the words)

pax aeterna

  • eternal peace
  • description: A common epitaph

Pax Americana

  • American Peace
  • description: A euphemism for the United States of America and its sphere of influence. Adapted from Pax Romana.

Pax Britannica

  • British Peace
  • description: A euphemism for the British Empire. Adapted from Pax Romana

Pax Christi

  • Peace of Christ
  • description: Used as a wish before the Holy Communion in the Catholic Mass, also the name of the peace movement Pax Christi

pax Dei

  • peace of God
  • description: Used in the Peace and Truce of God movement in 10th-century France

Pax Deorum

  • Peace of the gods
  • description: Like the vast majority of inhabitants of the ancient world, the Romans practiced pagan rituals, believing it important to achieve a state of Pax Deorum (The Peace of the gods) instead of Ira Deorum (The Wrath of the gods).

Pax, Domine

  • peace, lord
  • description: lord or master; used as a form of address when speaking to clergy or educated professionals

Pax Europaea

  • European Peace
  • description: euphemism for Europe after World War II

Pax Hispanica

  • Spanish Peace
  • description: Euphemism for the Spanish Empire; specifically can mean the twenty-three years of supreme Spanish dominance in Europe (approximately 1598–1621). Adapted from Pax Romana.

pax in terra

  • peace on earth
  • description: Used to exemplify the desired state of peace on earth

Pax intrantibus, salus exeuntibus

  • Peace to those who enter, health to those who depart.
  • description: Used as an inscription over the entrance of buildings (especially homes, monasteries, inns). Often benedicto habitantibus (Blessings on those who abide here) is added.

pax matrum, ergo pax familiarum

  • peace of mothers, therefore peace of families
  • description: If the mother is peaceful, then the family is peaceful. The inverse of the Southern United States saying, “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.”

Pax Mongolica

  • Mongolian Peace
  • description: period of peace and prosperity in Asia during the Mongol Empire

pax optima rerum

  • peace is the greatest good
  • description: Silius Italicus, Punica (11,595); motto of the university of Kiel

Pax Romana

  • Roman Peace
  • description: period of relative prosperity and lack of conflict in the early Roman Empire

Pax Sinica

  • Chinese Peace
  • description: period of peace in East Asia during times of strong Chinese hegemony

pax tecum

  • peace be with you (singular)

Pax tibi, Marce, Evangelista meus. Hic requiescet corpus tuum.

  • Peace to you, Mark, my Evangelist. Here will rest your body.
  • description: Legend states that when the evangelist went to the lagoon where Venice would later be founded, an angel came and said this.[1] The first part is depicted as the note in the book shown opened by the lion of St Mark’s Basilica, Venice; registered trademark of the Assicurazioni Generali, Trieste.[2]

pax vobiscum

  • peace [be] with you
  • description: A common farewell. The “you” is plural (“you all”), so the phrase must be used when speaking to more than one person; pax tecum is the form used when speaking to only one person.


  • I have sinned
  • description: Telegraph message and pun from Charles Napier, British general, upon completely subjugating the Indian province of Sindh in 1842 (‘I have Sindh’). This is, arguably, the most terse military despatch ever sent. The story is apocryphal.

pecunia non olet

  • money doesn’t smell
  • description: According to Suetonius’ De vita Caesarum, when Emperor Vespasian was challenged by his son Titus for taxing the public lavatories, the emperor held up a coin before his son and asked whether it smelled or simply said non olet (“it doesn’t smell”). From this, the phrase was expanded to pecunia non olet, or rarely aes non olet (“copper doesn’t smell”).

pecunia, si uti scis, ancilla est; si nescis, domina

  • if you know how to use money, money is your slave; if you don’t, money is your master
  • description: Written on an old Latin tablet in downtown Verona (Italy).

pede poena claudo

  • punishment comes limping
  • description: That is, retribution comes slowly but surely. From Horace, Odes, 3, 2, 32.

pendent opera interrupta

  • the work hangs interrupted
  • description: From the Aeneid of Virgil, Book IV


  • By, through, by means of
  • description: See specific phrases below

per angusta ad augusta

  • through difficulties to greatness
  • description: Joining sentence of the conspirators in the drama Hernani by Victor Hugo (1830). The motto of numerous educational establishments.

per annum (pa.)

  • each year
  • description: Thus, “yearly”—occurring every year

per ardua ad alta

  • through difficulty to heights
  • description: Through hardship, great heights are reached; frequently used motto

per aspera ad astra

  • through hardships to the stars
  • description: From Seneca the Younger; frequently used motto, sometimes as ad astra per aspera (“to the stars through hardships”)

per capita

  • by heads
  • description: “Per head”, i.e., “per person”, a ratio by the number of persons. The singular is per caput.

per capsulam

  • through the small box
  • description: That is, “by letter”

per contra

  • through the contrary
  • description: Or “on the contrary” (cf. a contrario)

per curiam

  • through the senate
  • description: Legal term meaning “by the court”, as in a per curiam decision

per definitionem

  • through the definition
  • description: Thus, “by definition”

per diem (pd.)

  • by day
  • description: Thus, “per day”. A specific amount of money an organization allows an individual to spend per day, typically for travel expenses.

per fas et nefas

  • through right or wrong
  • description: By fair means or foul

per fidem intrepidus

  • fearless through faith

per literas regias

  • by royal letters
  • description: by letters patent;

per lit. reg.

  • description: of academic degrees: awarded by letters patent from the King/Queen, rather than by a University[3][4]

per regias literas

per reg. lit.


per mensem (pm.)

  • by month
  • description: Thus, “per month”, or “monthly”

per multum cras, cras, crebro dilabitur aetas

  • what can be done today should not be delayed

per os (p.o.)

  • through the mouth
  • description: Medical shorthand for “by mouth”

per pedes

  • by feet
  • description: Used of a certain place that can be traversed or reached by foot, or to indicate that one is travelling by foot as opposed to by a vehicle

per procura (p.p.) or (per pro)

  • through the agency
  • description: Also rendered per procurationem. Used to indicate that a person is signing a document on behalf of another person. Correctly placed before the name of the person signing, but often placed before the name of the person on whose behalf the document is signed, sometimes through incorrect translation of the alternative abbreviation per pro. as “for and on behalf of”.

per quod

  • by reason of which
  • description: In a UK legal context: “by reason of which” (as opposed to per se which requires no reasoning). In American jurisprudence often refers to a spouse’s claim for loss of consortium.

per rectum (pr)

  • through the rectum
  • description: Medical shorthand; see also per os

per rectum ad astra

  • via rectum to the stars
  • description: a modern parody of per aspera ad astra, originating and most commonly used in Russia, meaning that the path to success took you through most undesirable and objectionable places or environments; or that a found solution to a complex problem is extremely convoluted.

per risum multum poteris cognoscere stultum

  • by excessive laughter one can recognise the fool

per se

  • through itself
  • description: Also “by itself” or “in itself”. Without referring to anything else, intrinsically, taken without qualifications etc. A common example is negligence per se. See also malum in se.

per stirpes

  • through the roots
  • description: Used in wills to indicate that each “branch” of the testator’s family should inherit equally. Contrasted with per capita.

per volar sunata[sic]

  • born to soar
  • description: Frequently used motto; not from Latin but from Dante’s Purgatorio, Canto XII, 95, the Italian phrase “per volar sù nata”.

Perfer et obdura; dolor hic tibi proderit olim

  • Be patient and tough; some day this pain will be useful to you.
  • description: From Ovid, Amores, Book III, Elegy XI

periculum in mora

  • danger in delay

perinde ac [si] cadaver [essent]

  • [well-disciplined] like a corpse
  • description: Phrase written by St. Ignatius of Loyola in his Constitutiones Societatis Iesu (1954)

perge sequar

  • advance, I follow
  • description: from Virgil’s Aeneid IV 114; in Vergil’s context: “proceed with your plan, I will do my part.”

perpetuum mobile

  • thing in perpetual motion
  • description: A musical term; also used to refer to hypothetical perpetual motion machines

persona non grata

  • person not pleasing
  • description: An unwelcome, unwanted or undesirable person. In diplomatic contexts, a person rejected by the host government. The reverse, persona grata (“pleasing person”), is less common, and refers to a diplomat acceptable to the government of the country to which he is sent.

petitio principii

  • request of the beginning
  • description: Begging the question, a logical fallacy in which a proposition to be proved is implicitly or explicitly assumed in one of the premises

pia desideria

  • pious longings
  • description: Or “dutiful desires”

pia fraus

  • pious fraud
  • description: Or “dutiful deceit”. Expression from Ovid; used to describe deception which serves Church purposes

pia mater

  • pious mother
  • description: Or “tender mother”. Translated into Latin from Arabic. The delicate innermost of the three membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord.


  • one painted
  • description: Thus, “he painted this” or “she painted this”. Formerly used on works of art, next to the artist’s name.

piscem natare doces

  • [you] teach a fish to swim
  • description: Latin proverb, attributed by Erasmus in his Adagia to Greek origin (Diogenianus, Ἰχθὺν νήχεσθαι διδάσκεις); corollary Chinese idiom (班門弄斧)


  • it pleases
  • description: expression of assent

plene scriptum

  • fully written

plenus venter non studet libenter

  • A full belly does not like studying
  • description: I.e., it is difficult to concentrate on mental tasks after a heavy meal. The following variant is also attested: plenus si venter renuit studere libenter (the belly, when full, refuses to study willingly).

plenus venter facile de ieiuniis disputat

  • A full belly readily discusses fasting.
  • description: Hieronymus, Epistulæ 58,2

pluralis majestatis

  • plural of majesty
  • description: The first-person plural pronoun when used by an important personage to refer to himself or herself; also known as the “royal we”

pluralis modestiae

  • plural of modesty

plus minusve (p.m.v.)

  • more or less
  • description: Frequently found on Roman funerary inscriptions to denote that the age of a decedent is approximate

plus ultra

  • further beyond
  • description: National motto of Spain and a number of other institutions

pollice compresso favor iudicabatur

  • goodwill decided by compressed thumb
  • description: Life was spared with a thumb tucked inside a closed fist, simulating a sheathed weapon. Conversely, a thumb up meant to unsheath your sword.

pollice verso

  • with a turned thumb
  • description: Used by Roman crowds to pass judgment on a defeated gladiator. The type of gesture used is uncertain. Also the name of a famous painting depicting gladiators by Jean-Léon Gérôme.

Polonia Restituta

  • Rebirth of Poland

pons asinorum

  • bridge of asses
  • description: Any obstacle that stupid people find hard to cross. Originally used of Euclid’s Fifth Proposition in geometry.

Pontifex Maximus

  • Greatest High Priest
  • description: Or “Supreme Pontiff”. Originally an office in the Roman Republic, later a title held by Roman Emperors, and later a traditional epithet of the pope. The pontifices were the most important priestly college of the religion in ancient Rome; their name is usually thought to derive from pons facere (“to make a bridge”), which in turn is usually linked to their religious authority over the bridges of Rome, especially the Pons Sublicius.

posse comitatus

  • force of the county[5]
  • description: Thus, to be able to be made into part of a retinue or force. In common law, a sheriff’s right to compel people to assist law enforcement in unusual situations.

possunt quia posse videntur

  • They can because they think they can
  • description: Inscription on the back of Putney medals, awarded to boat race winning Oxford blues. From Virgil’s Aeneid Book V line 231.

post aut propter

  • after it or by means of it
  • description: Causality between two phenomena is not established (cf. post hoc, ergo propter hoc)

post cibum (p.c.)

  • after food
  • description: Medical shorthand for “after meals” (cf. ante cibum)

post coitum

  • After sex
  • description: After sexual intercourse

post coitum omne animal triste est sive gallus et mulier

  • After sexual intercourse every animal is sad, except the cock (rooster) and the woman
  • description: Or: triste est omne animal post coitum, praeter mulierem gallumque. Attributed to Galen of Pergamum.[6]

post eventum

  • after the event
  • description: Refers to an action or occurrence that takes place after the event that is being discussed (similar in meaning to post factum). More specifically, it may refer to a person who is recounting an event long after it took place, implying that details of the story may have changed over time. (Some sources attribute this expression to George Eliot.)

post factum

  • after the fact
  • description: Not to be confused with ex post facto.

post festum

  • after the feast
  • description: Too late, or after the fact

post hoc ergo propter hoc

  • after this, therefore because of this
  • description: A logical fallacy where one assumes that one thing happening after another thing means that the first thing caused the second.

post meridiem (p.m.)

  • after midday
  • description: The period from noon to midnight (cf. ante meridiem)

post mortem (pm)

  • after death
  • description: Usually rendered postmortem. Not to be confused with post meridiem

Post mortem auctoris (p.m.a.)

  • after the author’s death
  • description: The phrase is used in legal terminology in the context of intellectual property rights, especially copyright, which commonly lasts until a certain number of years after the author’s death.

post prandial

  • after “late breakfast”
  • description: Refers to the time after any meal. Usually rendered postprandial.

post scriptum (p.s.)

  • after what has been written
  • description: A postscript. Used to mark additions to a letter, after the signature. Can be extended to post post scriptum (p.p.s.), etc.

post tenebras lux, or post tenebras spero lucem

  • after darkness, [I hope for] light
  • description: from Vulgata, Job 17:12; frequently used motto

potest solum unum

  • There can be only one
  • description: Highlander

praemia virtutis honores

  • honours are the rewards of virtue

praemonitus praemunitus

  • forewarned is forearmed
  • description: Common catch phrase of the fictional character “Captain Blood” from the novel Captain Blood (novel)

praeter legem

  • after the law
  • description: Legal terminology, international law

Praga totius Bohemiae domina

  • Prague, the mistress of the whole of Bohemia
  • description: Former motto of Prague

prima facie

  • at first sight
  • description: Used to designate evidence in a trial which is suggestive, but not conclusive, of something (e.g., a person’s guilt)

prima luce

  • at dawn
  • description: Literally “at first light”

primas sum: primatum nil a me alienum puto

  • I am a primate; nothing about primates is outside of my bailiwick
  • description: A sentence by the American anthropologist Earnest Hooton and the slogan of primatologists and lovers of the primates.

primum mobile

  • first moving thing
  • description: Or “first thing able to be moved”; see primum movens

primum movens

  • prime mover
  • description: Or “first moving one”. A common theological term, such as in the cosmological argument, based on the assumption that God was the first entity to “move” or “cause” anything. Aristotle was one of the first philosophers to discuss the “uncaused cause”, a hypothetical originator—and violator—of causality.

primum non nocere

  • first, to not harm
  • description: A medical precept. Often falsely attributed to the Hippocratic Oath, though its true source is probably a paraphrase from Hippocrates’ Epidemics, where he wrote, “Declare the past, diagnose the present, foretell the future; practice these acts. As to diseases, make a habit of two things: to help, or at least to do no harm.”

primus inter pares

  • first among equals
  • description: Position of the Ecumenical Patriarch in the Eastern Orthodox Church, position of the President of the Swiss Confederation among the members of the Federal Council, and a title of the Roman Emperors (cf. princeps).

principia probant non probantur

  • principles prove; they are not proved
  • description: Fundamental principles require no proof; they are assumed a priori.

principiis obsta (et respice finem)

  • resist the beginnings (and consider the end)
  • description: Ovid, Remedia Amoris, 91

principium individuationis

  • Individuation
  • description: psychological term: the self-formation of the personality into a coherent whole

prior tempore potior iure

  • earlier in time, stronger in law
  • description: A legal principle that older laws take precedence over newer ones. The inverse principle is known as lex posterior.

pro aris et focis

  • For altars and hearths
  • description: The motto of the Royal Queensland Regiment, and many other regiments.

pro bono publico

  • for the public good
  • description: Often abbreviated pro bono. Work undertaken voluntarily at no expense, such as public services. Often used of a lawyer’s work that is not charged for.

pro Deo et Patria

  • For God and Country
  • description: Frequently used motto

pro domo (sua)

  • for (one’s own) home or house
  • description: serving the interests of a given perspective or for the benefit of a given group.

pro forma

  • for form
  • description: Or “as a matter of form”. Prescribing a set form or procedure, or performed in a set manner.

pro hac vice

  • for this occasion
  • description: Request of a state court to allow an out-of-state lawyer to represent a client.

pro multis

  • for many
  • description: It is part of the Rite of Consecration of the wine in Western Christianity tradition, as part of the Mass.

pro parte

  • in part
  • description: Frequently used in taxonomy to refer to part of a group.

pro patria

  • for country
  • description: Pro Patria Medal: for operational service (minimum 55 days) in defence of the Republic South Africa or in the prevention or suppression of terrorism; issued for the Border War (counter-insurgency operations in South West Africa 1966–89) and for campaigns in Angola (1975–76 and 1987–88). Motto of The Royal Canadian Regiment, Royal South Australia Regiment, Hurlstone Agricultural High School.

pro per

  • for self
  • description: to defend oneself in court without counsel; abbreviation of propria persona. See also: pro se.

pro rata

  • for the rate
  • description: i.e., proportionately.

pro re nata (PRN, prn)

  • for a thing that has been born
  • description: Medical shorthand for “as the occasion arises” or “as needed”. Also “concerning a matter having come into being”. Used to describe a meeting of a special Presbytery or Assembly called to discuss something new, and which was previously unforeseen (literally: “concerning a matter having been born”).

pro rege et lege

  • for king and the law
  • description: Found on the Leeds coat of arms.

pro rege, lege et grege

  • for king, the law and the people
  • description: Found on the coat of arms of Perth, Scotland.

pro se

  • for oneself
  • description: to defend oneself in court without counsel. Some jurisdictions prefer, “pro per”.

pro studio et labore

  • for study and work

pro tanto

  • for so much
  • description: Denotes something that has only been partially fulfilled. A philosophical term indicating the acceptance of a theory or idea without fully accepting the explanation.

pro tanto quid retribuemus

  • what shall we give in return for so much
  • description: The motto of the city of Belfast; taken from the Vulgate translation of Psalm 116.

pro tempore

  • for the time (being)
  • description: Denotes a temporary current situation; abbreviated pro tem.

probatio pennae

  • testing of the pen
  • description: Medieval Latin term for breaking in a new pen

probis pateo

  • I am open for honest people
  • description: Traditionally inscribed above a city gate or above the front entrance of a dwelling or place of learning.

propria manu (p.m.)

  • “by one’s own hand”

propter vitam vivendi perdere causas

  • to destroy the reasons for living for the sake of life
  • description: That is, to squander life’s purpose just in order to stay alive, and live a meaningless life. From Juvenal, Satyricon VIII, verses 83–84.

protectio trahit subjectionem, et subjectio protectionem

  • Protection draws allegiance, and allegiance draws protection
  • description: Legal maxim, indicating that reciprocity of fealty with protection

proxime accessit

  • he came next
  • description: the runner-up

proximo mense (prox.)

  • in the following month
  • description: Used in formal correspondence to refer to the next month. Used with ult. (“last month”) and inst. (“this month”).

pulchrum est paucorum hominum

  • Beauty is for the few
  • description: from Friedrich Nietzsche’s 1889 book Twilight of the Idols

pulvis et umbra sumus

  • we are dust and shadow
  • description: From Horace, Carmina book IV, 7, 16.

punctum saliens

  • leaping point
  • description: Thus, the essential or most notable point. The salient point.

purificatus non consumptus

  • purified, not consumed


qua definitione

  • by virtue of definition
  • description: Thus: “by definition”; variant of per definitionem; sometimes used in German-speaking countries. Occasionally misrendered as “qua definitionem”.

quae non posuisti, ne tollas

  • do not take away what you did not put in place
  • description: Plato, Laws

quae non prosunt singula multa iuvant

  • what alone is not useful helps when accumulated
  • description: Ovid, Remedia amoris

quaecumque sunt vera

  • whatsoever is true
  • description: frequently used as motto; taken from Philippians 4:8 of the Bible


  • to seek
  • description: Or “you might ask…” Used to suggest doubt or to ask one to consider whether something is correct. Often introduces rhetorical or tangential questions.

quaerite primum regnum Dei

  • seek ye first the kingdom of God
  • description: Also quaerite primo regnum dei; frequently used as motto

qualis artifex pereo

  • As what kind of artist do I perish?
  • description: Or “What a craftsman dies in me!” Attributed to Nero in Suetonius’ De vita Caesarum

quam bene vivas referre (or refert), non quam diu

  • it is how well you live that matters, not how long
  • description: Seneca, Epistulae morales ad Lucilium CI (101)

quamdiu (se) bene gesserit

  • as long as he shall have behaved well (legal Latin)
  • description: I.e., “[while on] good behavior.” So for example the Act of Settlement 1701 stipulated that judges’ commissions are valid quamdiu se bene gesserint (during good behaviour). (Notice the different singular, “gesserit”, and plural, “gesserint”, forms.) It was from this phrase that Frank Herbert extracted the name for the Bene Gesserit sisterhood in the Dune novels.

quantocius quantotius

  • the sooner, the better
  • description: or, as quickly as possible

quantum libet (q.l.)

  • as much as pleases
  • description: medical shorthand for “as much as you wish”

quantum sufficit (qs)

  • as much as is enough
  • description: medical shorthand for “as much as needed” or “as much as will suffice”

quaque hora (qh)

  • every hour
  • description: medical shorthand; also quaque die (qd), “every day”, quaque mane (qm), “every morning”, and quaque nocte (qn), “every night”

quare clausum fregit

  • wherefore he broke the close
  • description: An action of trespass; thus called, by reason the writ demands the person summoned to answer to wherefore he broke the close (quare clausum fregit), i.e. why he committed such a trespass.

quater in die (qid)

  • four times a day
  • description: medical shorthand

quem deus vult perdere, dementat prius

  • Whom the gods would destroy, they first make insane

quem di diligunt adulescens moritur

  • he whom the gods love dies young
  • description: Other translations of diligunt include “prize especially” or “esteem”. From Plautus, Bacchides, IV, 7, 18. In this comic play, a sarcastic servant says this to his aging master. The rest of the sentence reads: dum valet sentit sapit (“while he is healthy, perceptive and wise”).

questio quid iuris

  • I ask what law?
  • description: from the Summoner’s section of Chaucer’s General Prologue to The Canterbury Tales, line 648

qui audet adipiscitur

  • Who Dares Wins
  • description: The motto of the SAS, of the British Army

qui bene cantat bis orat

  • he who sings well praises twice
  • description: from St. Augustine of Hippo’s commentary on Psalm 73, verse 1: Qui enim cantat laudem, non solum laudat, sed etiam hilariter laudat (“He who sings praises, not only praises, but praises joyfully”)

qui bono

  • who with good
  • description: common misspelling of the Latin phrase cui bono (“who benefits?”)

qui habet aures audiendi audiat

  • he who has ears to hear shall hear
  • description: “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear”; Mark Mark 4:9

qui me tangit, vocem meam audit

  • who touches me, hears my voice
  • description: common inscription on bells

qui tacet consentire videtur

  • he who is silent is taken to agree
  • description: Thus, silence gives consent. Sometimes accompanied by the proviso “ubi loqui debuit ac potuit”, that is, “when he ought to have spoken and was able to”.

qui prior est tempore potior est jure

  • Who is first in point of time is stronger in right
  • description: As set forth in the “Property Law” casebook written by Jesse Dukeminier, which is generally used to teach first year law students.

qui tam pro domino rege quam pro se ipso in hac parte sequitur

  • he who brings an action for the king as well as for himself
  • description: Generally known as ‘qui tam,’ it is the technical legal term for the unique mechanism in the federal False Claims Act that allows persons and entities with evidence of fraud against federal programs or contracts to sue the wrongdoer on behalf of the Government.

qui totum vult totum perdit

  • he who wants everything loses everything
  • description: Attributed to Publilius Syrus

qui transtulit sustinet

  • he who transplanted still sustains
  • description: Or “he who brought us across still supports us”, meaning God. State motto of Connecticut. Originally written as sustinet qui transtulit in 1639.

quia suam uxorem etiam suspicione vacare vellet

  • because he should wish even his wife to be free from suspicion
  • description: Attributed to Julius Caesar by Plutarch, Caesar 10. Translated loosely as “because even the wife of Caesar may not be suspected”. At the feast of Bona Dea, a sacred festival for females only, which was being held at the Domus Publica, the home of the Pontifex Maximus, Caesar, and hosted by his second wife, Pompeia, the notorious politician Clodius arrived in disguise. Caught by the outraged noblewomen, Clodius fled before they could kill him on the spot for sacrilege. In the ensuing trial, allegations arose that Pompeia and Clodius were having an affair, and while Caesar asserted that this was not the case and no substantial evidence arose suggesting otherwise, he nevertheless divorced, with this quotation as explanation.

quid agis

  • What are you doing?
  • description: What’s happening? What’s going on? What’s the news? What’s up?

quid est veritas

  • What is truth?
  • description: In the Vulgate translation of John 18:38, Pilate’s question to Jesus (Greek: Τί ἐστιν ἀλήθεια;). A possible answer is an anagram of the phrase: est vir qui adest, “it is the man who is here.”

quid novi ex Africa

  • What of the new out of Africa?
  • description: less literally, “What’s new from Africa?”; derived from an Aristotle quotation

quid nunc

  • What now?
  • description: Commonly shortened to quidnunc. As a noun, a quidnunc is a busybody or a gossip. Patrick Campbell worked for The Irish Times under the pseudonym “Quidnunc”.

quid pro quo

  • what for what
  • description: Commonly used in English, it is also translated as “this for that” or “a thing for a thing”. Signifies a favor exchanged for a favor. The traditional Latin expression for this meaning was do ut des (“I give, so that you may give”).

Quid rides?

  • Why do you laugh? Change but the name, and the story is told of yourself.
  • description: Horace, Satires, I. 1. 69.

Mutato nomine de te fabula narratur.

quidquid Latine dictum sit altum videtur

  • whatever has been said in Latin seems deep
  • description: Or “anything said in Latin sounds profound”. A recent ironic Latin phrase to poke fun at people who seem to use Latin phrases and quotations only to make themselves sound more important or “educated”. Similar to the less common omnia dicta fortiora si dicta Latina.

quieta non movere

  • don’t move settled things

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

  • Who will guard the guards themselves?
  • description: Commonly associated with Plato who in the Republic poses this question; and from Juvenal’s On Women, referring to the practice of having eunuchs guard women and beginning with the word sed (“but”). Usually translated less literally, as “Who watches the watchmen?” This translation is a common epigraph, such as of the Tower Commission and Alan Moore’s Watchmen comic book series.

quis leget haec?

  • Who will read this?

quis ut Deus

  • Who [is] as God?
  • description: Usually translated “Who is like unto God?” Questions who would have the audacity to compare himself to a Supreme Being. It is a translation of the Hebrew name ‘Michael’ = Mi cha El Who like God מי/כ/ אל Hebrew: מִיכָאֵל‎ (right to left).

quo errat demonstrator

  • where the prover errs
  • description: A pun on “quod erat demonstrandum”

quousque tandem?

  • For how much longer?
  • description: From Cicero’s first speech In Catilinam to the Roman Senate regarding the conspiracy of Catiline: Quo usque tandem abutere, Catilina, patientia nostra? (“For how much longer, Catiline, will you abuse our patience?”).

Quo Vadimus?

  • Where are we going?
  • description: Title of the series finale of Aaron Sorkin’s TV dramedy Sports Night

quo vadis?

  • Where are you going?
  • description: According to Vulgate translation of John 13:36, Saint Peter asked Jesus Domine, quo vadis? (“Lord, where are you going?”). The King James Version has the translation “Lord, whither goest thou?”

quod abundat non obstat

  • what is abundant doesn’t hinder
  • description: It is no problem to have too much of something.

quod cito fit, cito perit

  • what is done quickly, perishes quickly
  • description: Things done in a hurry are more likely to fail and fail quicker than those done with care.

quod erat demonstrandum (Q.E.D.)

  • what was to be demonstrated
  • description: The abbreviation is often written at the bottom of a mathematical proof. Sometimes translated loosely into English as “The Five Ws”, W.W.W.W.W., which stands for “Which Was What We Wanted”.

quod erat faciendum (Q.E.F.)

  • which was to be done
  • description: Or “which was to be constructed”. Used in translations of Euclid’s Elements when there was nothing to prove, but there was something being constructed, for example a triangle with the same size as a given line.

quod est (q.e.)

  • which is

quod est necessarium est licitum

  • what is necessary is lawful

quod gratis asseritur, gratis negatur

  • what is asserted without reason may be denied without reason
  • description: If no grounds have been given for an assertion, then there are no grounds needed to reject it.

quod licet Iovi, non licet bovi

  • what is permitted to Jupiter is not permitted to an ox
  • description: If an important person does something, it does not necessarily mean that everyone can do it (cf. double standard). Iovi (also commonly rendered Jovi) is the dative form of Iuppiter (“Jupiter” or “Jove”), the chief god of the Romans.

quod me nutrit me destruit

  • what nourishes me destroys me
  • description: Thought to have originated with Elizabethan playwright Christopher Marlowe. Generally interpreted to mean that that which motivates or drives a person can consume him or her from within. This phrase has become a popular slogan or motto for pro-ana websites, anorexics and bulimics.

quod natura non dat Salmantica non praestat

  • what nature does not give, Salamanca does not provide
  • description: Refers to the Spanish University of Salamanca, meaning that education cannot substitute the lack of brains.

quod non fecerunt barbari, fecerunt Barberini

  • What the barbarians did not do, the Barberini did
  • description: A well-known satirical lampoon left attached to the ancient “speaking” statue of Pasquino on a corner of the Piazza Navona in Rome, Italy.[1]

quod periit, periit

  • What is gone is gone
  • description: What has happened has happened and it cannot be changed, thus we should look forward into the future instead of being pulled by the past.

quod scripsi, scripsi

  • What I have written I have written.
  • description: Pilate to the chief priests (John 19:22)

quod supplantandum, prius bene sciendum

  • Whatever you hope to supplant, you will first know thoroughly
  • description: i.e. “You must thoroughly understand that which you hope to supplant”. A caution against following a doctrine of Naive Analogy when attempting to formulate a scientific hypothesis.

quod vide (q.v.)

  • which see
  • description: Used after a term, phrase, or topic that should be looked up elsewhere in the current document, book, etc. For more than one term or phrase, the plural is quae vide (qq.v.).

Quodcumque dixerit vobis, facite.

  • Whatever He tells you, that you shall do.
  • description: More colloquially: “Do whatever He [Jesus] tells you to do.” Instructions of Mary to the servants at the Wedding at Cana. (John 2:5). Also the motto of East Catholic High School.

quomodo vales

  • How are you?


  • of whom
  • description: the number of members whose presence is required under the rules to make any given meeting constitutional

quos amor verus tenuit tenebit

  • Those whom true love has held, it will go on holding
  • description: Seneca

quot capita tot sensus

  • as many heads, so many perceptions
  • description: “There are as many opinions as there are heads” – Terence

quot homines tot sententiae

  • as many men, so many opinions
  • description: Or “there are as many opinions as there are people”, “how many people, so many opinions”


radix malorum est cupiditas

  • the root of evils is desire
  • description: Or “greed is the root of all evil”. Theme of “The Pardoner’s Tale” from The Canterbury Tales.

rara avis (rarissima avis)

  • rare bird (very rare bird)
  • description: An extraordinary or unusual thing. From Juvenal’s Satires: rara avis in terris nigroque simillima cygno (“a rare bird in the lands, and very like a black swan”).

rari nantes in gurgite vasto

  • Rare survivors in the immense sea
  • description: Virgil, Aeneid, I, 118

ratio decidendi

  • reasoning for the decision
  • description: The legal, moral, political, and social principles used by a court to compose a judgment’s rationale.

ratio legis

  • reasoning of law
  • description: A law’s foundation or basis.

ratione personae

  • by reason of his/her person
  • description: Also “Jurisdiction Ratione Personae” the personal reach of the courts jurisdiction.[1]

ratione soli

  • by account of the ground
  • description: Or “according to the soil”. Assigning property rights to a thing based on its presence on a landowner’s property.

ratum et consummatum

  • confirmed and completed
  • description: in Canon law, a consummated marriage

ratum tantum

  • confirmed only
  • description: in Canon law, a confirmed but unconsummated marriage (which can be dissolved super rato)


  • [in] the matter of
  • description: More literally, “by the thing”. From the ablative of res (“thing” or “circumstance”). It is a common misconception that the “Re:” in correspondence is an abbreviation for regarding or reply; this is not the case for traditional letters. However, when used in an e-mail subject, there is evidence that it functions as an abbreviation of regarding rather than the Latin word for thing. The use of Latin re, in the sense of “about”, “concerning”, is English usage.

rebus sic stantibus

  • with matters standing thus
  • description: The doctrine that treaty obligations hold only as long as the fundamental conditions and expectations that existed at the time of their creation hold.

recte et fideliter

  • Upright and Faithful
  • description: Also “just and faithful” and “accurately and faithfully”. Motto of Ruyton Girls’ School

reductio ad absurdum

  • leading back to the absurd
  • description: A common debate technique, and a method of proof in mathematics and philosophy, that proves the thesis by showing that its opposite is absurd or logically untenable. In general usage outside mathematics and philosophy, a reductio ad absurdum is a tactic in which the logic of an argument is challenged by reducing the concept to its most absurd extreme. Translated from Aristotle’s “ἡ εις άτοπον απαγωγη” (hi eis atopon apagogi, “reduction to the impossible”).

reductio ad Hitlerum

  • leading back to Hitler
  • description: A term coined by German-American political philosopher Leo Strauss to humorously describe a fallacious argument that compares an opponent’s views to those held by Adolf Hitler or the Nazi Party. Derived from reductio ad absurdum.

reductio ad infinitum

  • leading back to the infinite
  • description: An argument that creates an infinite series of causes that does not seem to have a beginning. As a fallacy, it rests upon Aristotle’s notion that all things must have a cause, but that all series of causes must have a sufficient cause, that is, an unmoved mover. An argument which does not seem to have such a beginning becomes difficult to imagine. If it can be established, separately, that the chain must have a start, then a reductio ad infinitum is a valid refutation technique.

reformatio in peius

  • change to worse
  • description: A decision from a court of appeal is amended to a worse one. With certain exceptions, this is prohibited at the Boards of Appeal of the European Patent Office by case law.

Reginam occidere

  • From “Reginam occidere nolite timere bonum est si omnes consentiunt ego non contradico”, a sentence whose meaning is highly dependent on punctuation: either the speaker wishes a queen killed or not.[2]
  • description: Written by John of Merania, bishop of Esztergom, to Hungarian nobles planning the assassination of Gertrude of Merania. The queen was assassinated as the plotters saw the bishop’s message as an encouragement.

regnat populus

  • the people rule
  • description: State motto of Arkansas, adopted in 1907. Originally rendered in 1864 in the plural, regnant populi (“the peoples rule”), but subsequently changed to the singular.

Regnum Mariae Patrona Hungariae

  • Kingdom of Mary, the Patron of Hungary
  • description: Former motto of Hungary.

regressus ad uterum

  • return to the womb
  • description: Concept used in psychoanalysis by Sándor Ferenczi and the Budapest School.

rem acu tetigisti

  • You have touched the point with a needle
  • description: i.e., “You have hit the nail on the head”

repetita iuvant

  • repeating does good
  • description: Lit: “Repeated things help”. Usually said as a jocular remark to defend the speaker’s (or writer’s) choice to repeat some important piece of information to ensure reception by the audience.

repetitio est mater studiorum

  • repetition is the mother of study/learning

requiem aeternam

  • eternal rest

requiescat in pace (R.I.P.)

  • let him/her rest in peace
  • description: Or “may he/she rest in peace”. A benediction for the dead. Often inscribed on tombstones or other grave markers. “RIP” is commonly mistranslated as “Rest In Peace”, though the two mean essentially the same thing.

res firma mitescere nescit

  • a firm resolve does not know how to weaken
  • description: Used in the 1985 film American Flyers where it is colloquially translated as “once you got it up, keep it up”.

res gestae

  • things done
  • description: A phrase used in law representing the belief that certain statements are made naturally, spontaneously and without deliberation during the course of an event, they leave little room for misunderstanding/misinterpretation upon hearing by someone else ( i.e. by the witness who will later repeat the statement to the court) and thus the courts believe that such statements carry a high degree of credibility.

res ipsa loquitur

  • the thing speaks for itself
  • description: A phrase from the common law of torts meaning that negligence can be inferred from the fact that such an accident happened, without proof of exactly how.

res judicata

  • judged thing
  • description: A matter which has been decided by a court. Often refers to the legal concept that once a matter has been finally decided by the courts, it cannot be litigated again (cf. non bis in idem and double jeopardy).

res, non verba

  • “actions speak louder than words”, or “deeds, not words”
  • description: From rēs (“things, facts”) the plural of rēs (“a thing, a fact”) + nōn (“not”) + verba (“words”) the plural of verbum (“a word”). Literally meaning “things, not words” or “facts instead of words” but referring to that “actions be used instead of words”.

res nullius

  • nobody’s property
  • description: Goods without an owner. Used for things or beings which belong to nobody and are up for grabs, e.g., uninhabited and uncolonized lands, wandering wild animals, etc. (cf. terra nullius, “no man’s land”).

res publica

  • Pertaining to the state or public
  • description: source of the word republic

respice adspice prospice

  • look behind, look here, look ahead
  • description: i.e., “examine the past, the present and future”. Motto of CCNY.

respice finem

  • look back at the end
  • description: i.e., “have regard for the end” or “consider the end”. Generally a memento mori, a warning to remember one’s death. Motto of Homerton College, Cambridge, Trinity College, Kandy, Georgetown College in Kentucky , Turnbull High School, Glasgow, and the London Oratory School.

respondeat superior

  • let the superior respond
  • description: Regarded as a legal maxim in agency law, referring to the legal liability of the principal with respect to an employee. Whereas a hired independent contractor acting tortiously may not cause the principal to be legally liable, a hired employee acting tortiously will cause the principal (the employer) to be legally liable, even if the employer did nothing wrong.

restitutio ad (or in) integrum

  • restoration to original condition
  • description: Principle behind the awarding of damages in common law negligence claims


  • I shall arise
  • description: ‘I shall rise again’, expressing Christian faith in resurrection at the Last Day. It appears, inter alia, in Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, as the epitaph written on Helen Burns’s grave; in a poem of Emily Dickinson: Poems (1955) I. 56 (“Arcturus” is his other name), I slew a worm the other day — A ‘Savant’ passing by Murmured ‘Resurgam’ — ‘Centipede’! ‘Oh Lord—how frail are we’!; and in a letter of Vincent van Gogh.[3] The OED gives “1662 J. Trapp Annotations Old & New Testament I. 142 Howbeit he had hope in his death, and might write Resurgam on his grave” as its earliest attribution in the English corpus.

retine vim istam, falsa enim dicam, si coges

  • Restrain your strength, for if you compel me I will tell lies
  • description: An utterance by the Delphic oracle recorded by Eusebius of Caesarea in Praeparatio evangelica, VI-5, translated from the Greek of Porphyry (c.f. E. H. Gifford’s translation)[4] and used by William Wordsworth as a subtitle for his ballad “Anecdote for Fathers”.

rex regum fidelum et

  • king even of faithful kings
  • description: Latin motto that appears on the crest of the Trinity Broadcasting Network of Paul and Jan Crouch.

rigor mortis

  • stiffness of death
  • description: The rigidity of corpses when chemical reactions cause the limbs to stiffen about 3–4 hours after death. Other signs of death include drop in body temperature (algor mortis, “cold of death”) and discoloration (livor mortis, “bluish color of death”).

risum teneatis, amici?

  • Can you help laughing, friends?
  • description: An ironic or rueful commentary, appended following a fanciful or unbelievable tale.

risus abundat in ore stultorum

  • laughter is abundant in the mouth of fools
  • description: excessive and inappropriate laughter signifies stupidity.

Roma invicta

  • Unconquered Rome
  • description: Inspirational motto inscribed on the Statue of Rome.

Roma locuta, causa finita

  • Rome has spoken, the case is closed
  • description: In Roman Catholic ecclesiology, doctrinal matters are ultimately decided by the Vatican.

Romanes eunt domus

  • People called Romans they go the house
  • description: An intentionally garbled Latin phrase from Monty Python’s Life of Brian. Its intended meaning is “Romans, go home!”, in Latin Romani ite domum.

rorate coeli

  • drop down ye heavens
  • description: a.k.a. The Advent Prose.

rosa rubicundior, lilio candidior, omnibus formosior, semper in te glorior

  • redder than the rose, whiter than the lilies, fairer than all things, I do ever glory in thee
  • description: From Veni, veni, venias (Carmina Burana).

Rosam quae meruit ferat

  • She who has earned the rose may bear it
  • description: Motto from Sweet Briar College

rus in urbe

  • A countryside in the city
  • description: Generally used to refer to a haven of peace and quiet within an urban setting, often a garden, but can refer to interior decoration.


saltus in demonstrando

  • leap in explaining
  • description: a leap in logic, by which a necessary part of an equation is omitted.

salus in arduis

  • a stronghold (or refuge) in difficulties
  • description: a Roman Silver Age maxim. Also the school motto of Wellingborough School.

salus populi suprema lex esto

  • the welfare of the people is to be the highest law
  • description: From Cicero’s De Legibus, book III, part III, sub. VIII. Quoted by John Locke in his Second Treatise, On Civil Government, to describe the proper organization of government. Also the state motto of Missouri.

salva veritate

  • with truth intact
  • description: Refers to two expressions that can be interchanged without changing the truth value of the statements in which they occur.

Salvator Mundi

  • Savior of the World
  • description: Christian epithet, usually referring to Jesus. The title of paintings by Albrecht Dürer and Leonardo da Vinci.

salvo errore et omissione (s.e.e.o.)

  • save for error and omission
  • description: Used as a reservation on statements of financial accounts. Often now given in English “errors and omissions excluded” or “e&oe”.

salvo honoris titulo (SHT)

  • Addressing oneself to someone whose title is unknown.|

Sancta Sedes

  • Holy Chair
  • description: literally, “holy seat”. Refers to the Papacy or the Holy See.

sancta simplicitas

  • holy innocence
  • description: Or “sacred simplicity”.

sancte et sapienter

  • in a holy and wise way
  • description: Also sancte sapienter (holiness, wisdom), motto of several institutions, notably King’s College London

sanctum sanctorum

  • Holy of Holies
  • description: referring to a more sacred and/or guarded place, within a lesser guarded, yet also holy location.

sapere aude

  • dare to know
  • description: From Horace’s Epistularum liber primus, Epistle II, line 40. Made popular in Kant’s essay Answering the Question: What Is Enlightenment? defining the Age of Enlightenment. The phrase is common usage as a university motto.

sapienti sat

  • enough for the wise
  • description: From Plautus. Indicates that something can be understood without any need for explanation, as long as the listener has enough wisdom or common sense. Often extended to dictum sapienti sat est (“enough has been said for the wise”, commonly translated as “a word to the wise is enough”).

sapientia et eloquentia

  • wisdom and eloquence
  • description: One of the mottos of the Ateneo schools in the Philippines.[1]

sat celeriter fieri quidquid fiat satis bene

  • That which has been done well has been done quickly enough
  • description: One of the two favorite saying of Augustus. The other is “festina lente”.[2]

scientia, aere perennius

  • knowledge, more lasting than bronze
  • description: unknown origin, probably adapted from Horace’s ode III (Exegi monumentum aere perennius).

scientia ipsa potentia est

  • knowledge itself is power
  • description: Stated originally by Sir Francis Bacon in Meditationes Sacrae (1597), which in modern times is often paraphrased as scientia est potestas or scientia potentia est (knowledge is power).

scilicet (sc. or ss.)

  • it is permitted to know
  • description: that is to say; to wit; namely; in a legal caption, it provides a statement of venue or refers to a location.


  • I know

scio me nihil scire

  • I know that I know nothing

scribimus indocti doctique poemata passim

  • Each desperate blockhead dares to write
  • description: as translated by Philip Francis. From Horace, Epistularum liber secundus (1, 117)[3] and quoted in Fielding’s Tom Jones; lit: “Learned or not, we shall write poems without distinction.”

scuto amoris divini

  • by the shield of God’s love
  • description: The motto of Skidmore College

seculo seculorum

  • forever and ever

sed ipse spiritus postulat pro nobis, gemitibus inenarrabilibus

  • But the same Spirit intercedes incessantly for us, with inexpressible groans
  • description: Romans 8:26

sed terrae graviora manent

  • But on earth, worse things await
  • description: Virgil, Aeneid 6:84.

sede vacante

  • with the seat being vacant
  • description: The “seat” refers to the Holy See; the vacancy refers to the interregnum between two popes.

sedes apostolica

  • apostolic chair
  • description: Synonymous with Sancta Sedes.

sedes incertae

  • seat (i.e. location) uncertain
  • description: Used in biological classification to indicate that there is no agreement as to which higher order grouping a taxon should be placed into. Abbreviated sed. incert.

sedet, aeternumque sedebit

  • seat, be seated forever
  • description: a Virgi’s verse, means when you stop trying, then you lose

semel in anno licet insanire

  • once in a year one is allowed to go crazy
  • description: Concept expressed by various authors, such as Seneca, Saint Augustine and Horace. It became proverbial during the Middle Ages.

semper eadem

  • ever the same
  • description: personal motto of Elizabeth I, appears above her royal coat of arms. Used as motto of Elizabeth College, Guernsey, Channel Islands, which was founded by Elizabeth I, and of Ipswich School, to whom Elizabeth granted a royal charter. Also the motto of the City of Leicester and Prince George’s County.

semper fortis

  • always brave
  • description: Unofficial motto of the United States Navy

semper in excretia sumus solim profundum variat

  • We’re always in the manure; only the depth varies.
  • description: Lord de Ramsey, House of Lords, 21 January 1998[5]

semper necessitas probandi incumbit ei qui agit

  • the necessity of proof always lies with the person who lays charges
  • description: Latin maxim often associated with the burden of proof

semper reformanda

  • always in need of being reformed
  • description: A phrase deriving from the Nadere Reformatie movement in the seventeenth century Dutch Reformed Church and widely but informally used in Reformed and Presbyterian churches today. It refers to the conviction of certain Reformed Protestant theologians that the church must continually re-examine itself in order to maintain its purity of doctrine and practice. The term first appeared in print in Jodocus van Lodenstein, Beschouwinge van Zion (Contemplation of Zion), Amsterdam, 1674.[6]

semper vigilo

  • always vigilant
  • description: The motto of the Scottish Police Forces, Scotland.

Senatus Populusque Romanus (SPQR)

  • The Senate and the People of Rome
  • description: The official name of the Roman Republic. “SPQR” was carried on battle standards by the Roman legions. In addition to being an ancient Roman motto, it remains the motto of the modern city of Rome.

sensu lato

  • with the broad, or general, meaning
  • description: Less literally, “in the wide sense”.

sensu stricto cf. stricto sensu

  • “with the tight meaning”
  • description: Less literally, “in the strict sense”.

sensus plenior

  • in the fuller meaning
  • description: In biblical exegesis, the deeper meaning intended by God, not intended by the human author.

sequere pecuniam

  • follow the money
  • description: In an effort to understand why things may be happening contrary to expectations, or even in alignment with them, this idiom suggests that keeping track of where money is going may show the basis for the observed behavior. Similar in spirit to the phrase cui bono (who gains?) or cui prodest (who advances?), but outside those phrases’ historically legal context.

sero venientes male sedentes

  • those who are late are poorly seated

sero venientibus ossa

  • those who are late get bones

servabo fidem

  • Keeper of the faith
  • description: I will keep the faith.


  • I will serve
  • description: The answer of St. Michael the Archangel to the non serviam, “I will not serve” of Satan, when the angels were tested by God on whether they will serve an inferior being, a man, Jesus, as their Lord.

servus servorum Dei

  • servant of the servants of God
  • description: A title for the Pope.

sesquipedalia verba

  • words a foot and a half long
  • description: From Horace’s Ars Poetica, “proicit ampullas et sesquipedalia verba” (“he throws down his high-flown language and his foot-and-a-half-long words”). A self-referential jab at long words and needlessly elaborate language in general.

Si comprehendis [,] non est Deus

  • if you understand [something], it is not God
  • description: Augustine of Hippo, Sermo 117.3.5; PL 38, 663

Si monumentum requiris circumspice

  • If you seek (his) monument, look around you
  • description: from the epitaph on Christopher Wren’s tomb in St Paul’s Cathedral.

Si non oscillas, noli tintinnare

  • If you can’t swing, don’t ring
  • description: Inscribed on a plaque above the front door of the Playboy mansion in Chicago.

si omnes… ego non

  • if all ones… not I

si peccasse negamus fallimur et nulla est in nobis veritas

  • if we deny having made a mistake, we are deceived, and there’s no truth in us
  • description: From Christopher Marlowe’s The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus, where the phrase is translated “if we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and there’s no truth in us.” (cf. 1 John 1:8 in the New Testament)

si quaeris peninsulam amoenam circumspice

  • if you seek a delightful peninsula, look around
  • description: Said to have been based on the tribute to architect Christopher Wren in St Paul’s Cathedral, London: si monumentum requiris, circumspice (see above). State motto of Michigan, adopted in 1835.

si quid novisti rectius istis, candidus imperti; si nil, his utere mecum.

  • if you can better these principles, tell me; if not, join me in following them
  • description: Horace, Epistles I :6, 67–68

si tacuisses, philosophus mansisses

  • If you had kept your silence, you would have stayed a philosopher
  • description: This quote is often attributed to the Latin philosopher Boethius of the late fifth and early sixth centuries. It translates literally as, “If you had been silent, you would have remained a philosopher.” The phrase illustrates a common use of the subjunctive verb mood. Among other functions it expresses actions contrary to fact. Sir Humphrey Appleby translated it to the PM as: “If you’d kept your mouth shut we might have thought you were clever.”

si vales valeo (SVV)

  • if you are well, I am well (abbr)
  • description: A common beginning for ancient Roman letters. An abbreviation of si vales bene est ego valeo, alternatively written as SVBEEV. The practice fell out of fashion and into obscurity with the decline in Latin literacy.

si vis amari ama

  • If you want to be loved, love
  • description: This is often attributed to the Roman philosopher Seneca, found in the sixth of his letters to Lucilius.

si vis pacem, para bellum

  • if you want peace, prepare for war
  • description: From Publius Flavius Vegetius Renatus, De Re Militari. Origin of the name parabellum for some ammunition and firearms, such as the Luger Parabellum. (Similar to igitur qui desiderat pacem, praeparet bellum and in pace ut sapiens aptarit idonea bello.)


  • thus
  • description: Or “just so”. States that the preceding quoted material appears exactly that way in the source, despite any errors of spelling, grammar, usage, or fact that may be present. Used only for previous quoted text; ita or similar must be used to mean “thus” when referring to something about to be stated.

sic currite ut comprehendatis

  • Run to win
  • description: More specifically, So run, that ye may obtain, 1 Corinthians 24. Motto of Divine Word University, Madang, Papua New Guinea.

sic et non

  • thus and not
  • description: More simply, “yes and no”.

sic gorgiamus allos subjectatos nunc

  • we gladly feast on those who would subdue us
  • description: Mock-Latin motto of The Addams Family.

sic infit

  • so it begins

sic itur ad astra

  • thus you shall go to the stars
  • description: From Virgil, Aeneid book IX, line 641. Possibly the source of the ad astra phrases. Motto of several institutions, including the Royal Canadian Air Force.

sic passim

  • Thus here and there
  • description: Used when referencing books; see passim.

sic semper erat, et sic semper erit

  • Thus has it always been, and thus shall it ever be

sic semper tyrannis

  • thus always to tyrants
  • description: Attributed to Brutus at the time of Julius Caesar’s assassination and to John Wilkes Booth at the time of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination; whether it was actually said at either of these events is disputed. State motto of Virginia, adopted in 1776.

sic transit gloria mundi

  • thus passes the glory of the world
  • description: A reminder that all things are fleeting. During Papal coronations, a monk reminds the Pope of his mortality by saying this phrase, preceded by pater sancte (“holy father”) while holding before his eyes a burning paper illustrating the passing nature of earthly glories. This is similar to the tradition of a slave in a Roman triumphs whispering memento mori in the ear of the celebrant.

sic utere tuo ut alienum non laedas

  • use [what is] yours so as not to harm [what is] of others
  • description: Or “use your property in such a way that you do not damage others'”. A legal maxim related to property ownership laws, often shortened to simply sic utere (“use it thus”).

sic vita est

  • thus is life
  • description: Or “such is life”. Indicates that a circumstance, whether good or bad, is an inherent aspect of living.

sidere mens eadem mutato

  • Though the constellations change, the mind is universal
  • description: Latin motto of the University of Sydney.

signetur (sig) or (S/)

  • let it be labeled
  • description: Medical shorthand

silentium est aureum

  • silence is golden
  • description: Latinization of the English expression “silence is golden”. Also Latinized as silentium est aurum (“silence is gold”).

similia similibus curantur

  • similar things are taken care of by similar things
  • description: “like cures like” and “let like be cured by like”; the first form (“curantur”) is indicative, while the second form (“curentur”) is subjunctive. The indicative form is found in Paracelsus (16th century), while the subjunctive form is said by Samuel Hahnemann, founder of homeopathy, and is known as the law of similars.

similia similibus curentur

  • let similar things be taken care of by similar things

similia similibus solvuntur

  • similar substances will dissolve similar substances
  • description: Used as a general rule in chemistry; “like dissolves like” refers to the ability of polar or non polar solvents to dissolve polar or non polar solutes respectively.[7]

simplex sigillum veri

  • simplicity is the sign of truth
  • description: expresses a sentiment akin to Keep It Simple, Stupid

sine anno (s.a.)

  • without a year
  • description: Used in bibliographies to indicate that the date of publication of a document is unknown.

sine die

  • without a day
  • description: Originally from old common law texts, where it indicates that a final, dispositive order has been made in the case. In modern legal context, it means there is nothing left for the court to do, so no date for further proceedings is set, resulting in an “adjournment sine die”.

sine ira et studio

  • without anger and fondness
  • description: Thus, impartially. From Tacitus, Annals 1.1.

sine honoris titulo

  • without honorary title
  • description: Addressing oneself to someone whose title is unknown.

sine labore non erit panis in ore

  • without labour there will be no bread in mouth

sine loco (s.l.)

  • without a place
  • description: Used in bibliographies to indicate that the place of publication of a document is unknown.

sine nomine (s.n.)

  • “without a name”
  • description: Used in bibliographies to indicate that the publisher of a document is unknown.

sine poena nulla lex

  • Without penalty, there is no law
  • description: Refers to the ineffectiveness of a law without the means of enforcement

sine prole

  • Without offspring
  • description: Frequently abbreviated to “s.p.” or “d.s.p.” (decessit sine prole – “died without offspring”) in genealogical works.

sine prole superstite

  • Without surviving children
  • description: Without surviving offspring (even in abstract terms)

sine timore aut favore

  • Without Fear or Favor
  • description: St.George’s School, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada motto

sine qua non

  • without which not
  • description: Used to denote something that is an essential part of the whole. See also condicio sine qua non.

sine remediis medicina debilis est

  • without remedies medicine is powerless
  • description: Inscription on a stained glass in the conference hall of a pharmaceutical mill in Kaunas, Lithuania.

sisto activitatem

  • I cease the activity
  • description: Phrase, used to cease the activities of the Sejm upon the liberum veto principle

sit tibi terra levis

  • may the earth be light to you
  • description: Commonly used on gravestones, often contracted as S.T.T.L., the same way as today’s R.I.P.

sit venia verbo

  • may there be forgiveness for the word
  • description: Similar to the English idiom “pardon my French”.

sol lucet omnibus

  • the sun shines on everyone
  • description: Petronius, Satyricon Lybri 100.

sol omnia regit

  • the sun rules over everything
  • description: Inscription near the entrance to Frombork Museum

sola fide

  • by faith alone
  • description: The material principle of the Protestant Reformation and one of the five solas, referring to the Protestant claim that the Bible teaches that men are saved by faith even without works.

sola dosis facit venemum

  • the dose makes the poison
  • description: It is credited to Paracelsus who expressed the classic toxicology maxim “All things are poison and nothing is without poison; only the dose makes a thing not a poison.”

sola gratia

  • by grace alone
  • description: A motto of the Protestant Reformation and one of the five solas, referring to the Protestant claim that salvation is an unearned gift (cf. ex gratia), not a direct result of merit.

sola lingua bona est lingua mortua

  • the only good language is a dead language
  • description: Example of dog Latin humor.

sola scriptura

  • by scripture alone
  • description: The formal principle of the Protestant Reformation and one of the five solas, referring to the Protestant idea that the Bible alone is the ultimate authority, not the Pope or tradition.

sola nobilitat virtus

  • virtue alone ennobles

solamen miseris socios habuisse doloris

  • misery loves company
  • description: From Christopher Marlowe’s The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus.

soli Deo gloria (S.D.G.)

  • glory to God alone
  • description: A motto of the Protestant Reformation and one of the five solas, referring to the idea that God is the creator of all good things and deserves all the praise for them. Johann Sebastian Bach often signed his manuscripts with the abbreviation S.D.G. to invoke this phrase, as well as with AMDG (ad maiorem Dei gloriam). The motto of the MasterWorks Festival, an annual Christian performing arts festival.

solus Christus

  • Christ alone
  • description: A motto of the Protestant Reformation and one of the five solas, referring to the Protestant claim that the Bible teaches that Jesus is the only mediator between God and mankind. Also rendered solo Christo (“by Christ alone”).

solus ipse

  • I alone

solvitur ambulando

  • it is solved by walking
  • description: The problem is solved by taking a walk, or by simple experiment.

Spartam nactus es; hanc exorna

  • your lot is cast in Sparta, be a credit to it
  • description: from Euripides’s Telephus, Agamemnon to Menelaus.[8]

specialia generalibus derogant

  • special departs from general

species nova

  • new species
  • description: Used in biological taxonomy

speculum speculorum

  • mirror of mirrors

spem gregis

  • the hope of the flock
  • description: from Virgil’s Eclogues

spero meliora

  • I hope for better things

spes vincit thronum

  • hope conquers (overcomes) the throne
  • description: Refers to Revelation 3:21, “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.” On the John Winthrop family tombstone, Boston, Massachusetts.

spiritus mundi

  • spirit of the world
  • description: From The Second Coming (poem) by William Butler Yeats. Refers to Yeats’ belief that each human mind is linked to a single vast intelligence, and that this intelligence causes certain universal symbols to appear in individual minds. The idea is similar to Carl Jung’s concept of the collective unconscious.

spiritus ubi vult spirat

  • the spirit spreads wherever it wants
  • description: Refers to The Gospel of Saint John 3:8, where he mentions how Jesus told Nicodemus “The wind blows wherever it wants, and even though you can hear its noise, you don’t know where it comes from or where it goes. The same thing happens to whomever has been born of the Spirit.” It is the motto of Cayetano Heredia University[9]

splendor sine occasu

  • brightness without setting
  • description: Loosely “splendour without diminishment” or “magnificence without ruin”. Motto of British Columbia.

stamus contra malo

  • we stand against by evil
  • description: The motto of the Jungle Patrol in The Phantom. The phrase actually violates Latin grammar because of a mistranslation from English, as the preposition contra takes the accusative case. The correct Latin rendering of “we stand against evil” would be “stamus contra malum”.

stante pede

  • with a standing foot
  • description: “Immediately”.

stare decisis

  • to stand by the decided things
  • description: To uphold previous rulings, recognize precedent.

stat sua cuique dies

  • There is a day [turn] for everybody
  • description: Virgil, Aeneid, X 467

statim (stat)

  • “immediately”
  • description: Medical shorthand used following an urgent request.[10]

status quo

  • the situation in which
  • description: The current condition or situation. Also status quo ante (“the situation in which [things were] before”), referring to the state of affairs prior to some upsetting event (cf. reset button technique).

status quo ante bellum

  • the state before the war
  • description: A common term in peace treaties.


  • let it stand
  • description: Marginal mark in proofreading to indicate that something previously deleted or marked for deletion should be retained.

stet fortuna domus

  • let the fortune of the house stand
  • description: First part of the motto of Harrow School, England, and inscribed upon Ricketts House, at the California Institute of Technology.

stipendium peccati mors est

  • the reward of sin is death
  • description: From Christopher Marlowe’s The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus. (See Rom 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”)

stricto sensu cf. sensu stricto

  • with the tight meaning
  • description: Less literally, “in the strict sense”.

stupor mundi

  • the wonder of the world
  • description: A title given to Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor. More literally translated “the bewilderment of the world”, or, in its original, pre-Medieval sense, “the stupidity of the world”.

sua sponte

  • by its own accord
  • description: Legal term when a court takes up a motion on its own initiative, not because any of the parties to the case has made the motion. The regimental motto of the 75th Ranger Regiment of the U.S. Army.

sub anno

  • under the year
  • description: Commonly abbreviated sa, it is used in citing annals, which record events by year.

sub divo

  • under the wide open sky
  • description: Also, “under the sky”, “in the open air”, “out in the open” or “outdoors”. Ablative “divo” does not distinguish divus, divi, a god, from divum, divi, the sky.

sub finem

  • toward the end
  • description: Used in citations to refer to the end of a book, page, etc., and abbreviated ‘s.f.’ Used after the page number or title. E.g., ‘p. 20 s.f. ‘

sub Iove frigido

  • under cold Jupiter
  • description: At night; from Horace’s Odes 1.1:25

sub judice

  • under a judge
  • description: Said of a case that cannot be publicly discussed until it is finished. Also sub iudice.

sub poena

  • under penalty
  • description: Commonly rendered subpoena. Said of a request, usually by a court, that must be complied with on pain of punishment. Examples include subpoena duces tecum (“take with you under penalty”), a court summons to appear and produce tangible evidence, and subpoena ad testificandum (“under penalty to testify”), a summons to appear and give oral testimony.

sub rosa

  • under the rose
  • description: “In secret”, “privately”, “confidentially”, or “covertly”. In the Middle Ages, a rose was suspended from the ceiling of a council chamber to indicate that what was said in the “under the rose” was not to be repeated outside. This practice originates in Greek mythology, where Aphrodite gave a rose to her son Eros, and he, in turn, gave it to Harpocrates, the god of silence, to ensure that his mother’s indiscretions—or those of the gods in general, in other accounts—were kept under wraps.

sub nomine (sub nom.)

  • under the name
  • description: “in the name of”, “under the title of”; used in legal citations to indicate the name under which the litigation continued.

sub silentio

  • under silence
  • description: implied but not expressly stated.

sub specie aeternitatis

  • under the sight of eternity
  • description: Thus, “from eternity’s point of view”. From Spinoza, Ethics.

sub specie Dei

  • under the sight of God
  • description: “from God’s point of view or perspective”.

sub tuum praesidium

  • Beneath thy compassion
  • description: Name of the oldest extant hymn to the Theotokos (Blessed Virgin Mary). Also “under your protection”. A popular school motto.

Sub umbra floreo

  • Under the shade I flourish
  • description: National Motto of Belize, referring to the shade of the mahogany tree.

sub verbo; sub voce

  • description: Under the word or heading, as in a dictionary; abbreviated s.v.

subsiste sermonem statim

  • stop speaking immediately

Sudetia non cantat

  • One doesn’t sing on the Sudeten Mountains
  • description: Saying from Hanakia

sui generis

  • Of its own kind
  • description: In a class of its own.

sui iuris

  • Of one’s own right
  • description: Capable of responsibility. Has both legal and ecclesiastical use. Commonly rendered sui juris.

sum quod eris

  • I am what you will be
  • description: A gravestone inscription to remind the reader of the inevitability of death (cf. memento mori). Also rendered fui quod sis (“I have been what you are”) and tu fui ego eris (“I have been you, you will be I”).

sum quod sum

  • I am what I am
  • description: from Augustine’s Sermon No. 76.[11]

summa cum laude

  • with highest praise

summa potestas

  • sum or totality of power
  • description: It refers to the final authority of power in government. For example, power of the Sovereign.

summa summarum

  • all in all
  • description: Literally “sum of sums”. When a short conclusion is rounded up at the end of some elaboration.

summum bonum

  • the supreme good
  • description: Literally “highest good”. Also summum malum (“the supreme evil”).

summum ius, summa iniuria

  • supreme law, supreme injustice
  • description: From Cicero (De officiis, I, 10, 33). An acritical application of law, without understanding and respect of laws’s purposes and without considering the overall circumstances, is often a means of supreme injustice. A similar sentence appears in Terence (Heautontimorumenos, IV, 5): Ius summum saepe summa est malitia (“supreme justice is often out of supreme malice (or wickedness)”).

sumptibus auctoris

  • published [cost of printing paid] by author
  • description: Found in self-published academic books of the 17th to 19th century. Often preceded by Latin name of city in which the work is published.

sunt lacrimae rerum

  • there are tears for things
  • description: From Virgil, Aeneid. Followed by et mentem mortalia tangunt (“and mortal things touch my mind”). Aeneas cries as he sees Carthaginian temple murals depicting the deaths of the Trojan War. See also hinc illae lacrimae.

sunt omnes unum

  • they are all one

sunt pueri pueri, pueri puerilia tractant

  • Children are children, and children do childish things
  • description: anonymous proverb

suo jure

  • in one’s own right
  • description: Used in the context of titles of nobility, for instance where a wife may hold a title in her own right rather than through her marriage.

suo motu

  • upon one’s own initiative
  • description: Also rendered suo moto. Usually used when a court of law, upon its own initiative, (i.e., no petition has been filed) proceeds against a person or authority that it deems has committed an illegal act. It is used chiefly in South Asia.[citation needed]

suos cultores scientia coronat

  • Knowledge crowns those who seek her
  • description: The motto of Syracuse University, New York.

super firmum fundamentum dei

  • On the firm foundation of God
  • description: The motto of Ursinus College, Pennsylvania.

super fornicam

  • on the lavatory
  • description: Where Thomas More accused the reformer, Martin Luther, of going to celebrate Mass.

supero omnia

  • I surpass everything
  • description: A declaration that one succeeds above all others.

surdo oppedere

  • to belch before the deaf
  • description: From Erasmus’ collection of annotated Adagia (1508): a useless action.

sursum corda

  • Lift up your hearts

sutor, ne ultra crepidam

  • Cobbler, no further than the sandal!
  • description: Thus, don’t offer your opinion on things that are outside your competence. It is said that the Greek painter Apelles once asked the advice of a cobbler on how to render the sandals of a soldier he was painting. When the cobbler started offering advice on other parts of the painting, Apelles rebuked him with this phrase in Greek, and it subsequently became a popular Latin expression.

suum cuique tribuere

  • to render to every man his due
  • description: One of Justinian I’s three basic precepts of law. Also shortened to suum cuique (“to each his own”).


  • description: Abbreviation for sub verbo or sub voce (see above).


tabula gratulatoria

  • congratulatory tablet
  • description: A list of congratulations.

tabula rasa

  • scraped tablet
  • description: Thus, “blank slate”. Romans used to write on wax-covered wooden tablets, which were erased by scraping with the flat end of the stylus. John Locke used the term to describe the human mind at birth, before it had acquired any knowledge.

talis qualis

  • just as such
  • description: “Such as it is” or “as such”.

taliter qualiter

  • somewhat

talium Dei regnum

  • for of such (little children) is the kingdom of God
  • description: from St Mark’s gospel 10:14 “talium (parvuli) est enim regnum Dei”; similar in St Matthew’s gospel 19:14 “talium est enim regnum caelorum” (“for of such is the kingdom of heaven”); motto of the Cathedral School, Townsville.

tanquam ex ungue leonem

  • we know the lion by his claw
  • description: Said in 1697 by Johann Bernoulli about Isaac Newton’s anonymously submitted solution to Bernoulli’s challenge regarding the Brachistochrone curve.

tarde venientibus ossa

  • To the late are left the bones

Te occidere possunt sed te edere non possunt nefas est

  • They can kill you, but they cannot eat you, it is against the law.
  • description: The motto of the fictional Enfield Tennis Academy in the David Foster Wallace novel Infinite Jest. Translated in the novel as “They can kill you, but the legalities of eating you are quite a bit dicier”.

temet nosce

  • know thyself
  • description: A reference to the Greek γνῶθι σεαυτόν (gnothi seauton), inscribed on the pronaos of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, according to the Greek periegetic writer Pausanias (10.24.1). Rendered also with nosce te ipsum, temet nosce (“thine own self know”) appears in The Matrix translated as “know thyself”.

tempora heroica

  • Heroic Age
  • description: Literally “Heroic Times”; refers to the period between the mythological Titanomachy and the (relatively) historical Trojan War.

tempora mutantur et nos mutamur in illis

  • the times are changing, and we change in them
  • description: 16th century variant of two classical lines of Ovid: tempora labuntur (“time labors”, Fasti) and omnia mutantur (“everything changes”, Metamorphoses). See entry for details.

tempus edax rerum

  • time, devourer of all things
  • description: Also “time, that devours all things”, literally: “time, gluttonous of things”, edax: adjectival form of the verb edo to eat. From Ovid, Metamorphoses, 15, 234-236.

tempus fugit

  • Time flees.
  • description: From Virgil’s Georgics (Book III, line 284), where it appears as fugit inreparabile tempus. A common sundial motto. See also tempus volat, hora fugit below.
  • Time flies.

tempus rerum imperator

  • time, commander of all things
  • description: “Tempus Rerum Imperator” has been adopted by the Google Web Accelerator project. It is shown in the “About Google Web Accelerator” page.

tempus vernum

  • spring time
  • description: Name of song by popular Irish singer Enya

tempus volat, hora fugit

  • time flies, the hour flees

tendit in ardua virtus

  • virtue strives for what is difficult
  • description: Appears in Ovid’s Epistulae ex Ponto

teneo te Africa

  • I hold you, Africa!
  • description: Suetonius attributes this to Julius Caesar, from when Caesar was on the African coast.

tentanda via

  • The way must be tried
  • description: motto for York University

ter in die (t.i.d.)

  • thrice in a day
  • description: Medical shorthand for “three times a day”.

terminat hora diem; terminat auctor opus.

  • The hour finishes the day; the author finishes his work.
  • description: Phrase concluding Christopher Marlowe’s play Doctor Faustus.[1]

terminus ante quem

  • limit before which
  • description: In archaeology or history, refers to the date before which an artefact or feature must have been deposited. Used with terminus post quem (limit after which). Similarly, terminus ad quem (limit to which) may also refer to the latest possible date of a non-punctual event (period, era, etc.), while terminus a quo (limit from which) may refer to the earliest such date.

terra australis incognita

  • unknown southern land
  • description: First name used to refer to the Australian continent

terra firma

  • solid earth
  • description: Often used to refer to the ground

terra incognita

  • unknown land

terra nova

  • new land
  • description: Latin name of Newfoundland (island portion of Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador, capital- St. John’s), also root of French name of same, Terre-Neuve

terra nullius

  • land of none
  • description: That is, no man’s land. A neutral or uninhabited area, or a land not under the sovereignty of any recognized political entity.

terras irradient

  • let them illuminate the lands
  • description: Or “let them give light to the world”. An allusion to Isaiah 6.3: plena est omnis terra gloria eius (“the whole earth is full of his glory”). Sometimes mistranslated as “they will illuminate the lands” based on mistaking irradiare for a future indicative third-conjugation verb, whereas it is actually a present subjunctive first-conjugation verb. Motto of Amherst College; the college’s original mission was to educate young men to serve God.

tertium non datur

  • no third (possibility) is given
  • description: A logical axiom that a claim is either true or false, with no third option.

tertium quid

  • a third something
  • description: 1. Something that cannot be classified into either of two groups considered exhaustive; an intermediate thing or factor. 2. A third person or thing of indeterminate character.

testis unus, testis nullus

  • one witness is not a witness
  • description: A law principle expressing that a single witness is not enough to corroborate a story.

textus receptus

  • received text

Tibi cordi immaculato concredimus nos ac consecramus

  • We consecrate to your immaculate heart and entrust to you (Mary) for safekeeping
  • description: The inscription found on top of the central door of the Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, otherwise known as the Manila Cathedral in the Philippines

timeo Danaos et dona ferentes

  • I fear Greeks even if they bring gifts
  • description: Danaos being a term for the Greeks. In Virgil’s Aeneid, II, 49, the phrase is said by Laocoön when warning his fellow Trojans against accepting the Trojan Horse. The full original quote is quidquid id est timeo Danaos et dona ferentis, quidquid id est meaning “whatever it is” and ferentis being an archaic form of ferentes. Commonly mistranslated “Beware of Greeks bearing gifts”.

timidi mater non flet

  • A coward’s mother does not weep
  • description: proverb

timor mortis conturbat me

  • the fear of death confounds me
  • description: Refrain originating in the response to the seventh lesson in the Office of the Dead. In the Middle Ages, this service was read each day by clerics. As a refrain, it appears also in other poems and can frequently be found inscribed on tombs.

toto cælo

  • by whole heaven
  • description: as far apart as possible; utterly.

totus tuus

  • totally yours
  • description: Offering one’s life in total commitment to another. The motto was adopted by Pope John Paul II to signify his love and servitude to Mary the Mother of Jesus.

transire benefaciendo

  • to travel along while doing good
  • description: Literally “beneficial passage.” Mentioned in “The Seamy Side of History” (L’envers de l’histoire contemporaine, 1848), part of La Comédie humaine, by Honoré de Balzac, and Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne.

translatio imperii

  • transfer of rule
  • description: Used to express the belief in the transfer of imperial authority from the Roman Empire of antiquity to the Medieval Holy Roman Empire.

tres faciunt collegium

  • three makes company
  • description: It takes three to have a valid group; three is the minimum number of members for an organization or a corporation.

treuga Dei

  • Truce of God
  • description: A decree by the medieval Church that all feuds should be cancelled during the Sabbath—effectively from Wednesday or Thursday night until Monday. See also Peace and Truce of God.

Triste est omne animal post coitum, præter mulierem gallumque

  • Every animal is sad after coitus except the human female and the rooster

tu autem Domine miserere nobis

  • But Thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us
  • description: Phrase said at the end of biblical readings in the liturgy of the medieval church. Also used in brief, “tu autem”, as a memento mori epitaph.

tu fui ego eris

  • I was you; you will be me
  • description: Thus, “what you are, I was; what I am, you will be.”. A memento mori gravestone inscription to remind the reader that death is unavoidable (cf. sum quod eris).

tu ne cede malis, sed contra audentior ito

  • you should not give in to evils, but proceed ever more boldly against them
  • description: From Virgil, Aeneid, 6, 95. “Ne cede malis” is the motto of The Bronx.

tu quoque

  • you too
  • description: The logical fallacy of attempting to defend one’s position merely by pointing out the same weakness in one’s opponent.

tu stultus es

  • you are stupid
  • description: Motto for the satirical news organization, The Onion


  • I will protect
  • description: Found on the Great Seal on the flag of the state of Michigan.

tunica propior est pallio

  • A tunic is closer to the body than a cape


uberrima fides

  • most abundant faith
  • description: Or “utmost good faith” (cf. bona fide). A legal maxim of insurance contracts requiring all parties to deal in good faith.

ubi amor, ibi dolor

  • where [there is] love, there [is] pain

ubi bene, ibi patria

  • where [it is] well, there [is] the fatherland
  • description: Or “Home is where it’s good”; see also ubi panis ibi patria.

ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est

  • where there is charity and love, God is there

ubi dubium, ibi libertas

  • where [there is] doubt, there [is] freedom
  • description: Anonymous proverb.

ubi jus, ibi remedium

  • Where [there is] a right, there [is] a remedy

ubi mel, ibi apes

  • where [there is] honey, there [are] bees
  • description: Similar to “you catch more bees with honey than with vinegar”—treat people nicely and they will treat you nicely in return.

ubi libertas. ibi patria

  • where [there is] liberty, there [is] the fatherland
  • description: Or “where there is liberty, there is my country”. Patriotic motto.

ubi nihil vales, ibi nihil velis

  • where you are worth nothing, there you will wish for nothing
  • description: From the writings of the Flemish philosopher Arnold Geulincx; also quoted by Samuel Beckett in his first published novel, Murphy.

ubi non accusator, ibi non iudex

  • where [there is] no accuser, there [is] no judge
  • description: Thus, there can be no judgment or case if no one charges a defendant with a crime. The phrase is sometimes parodied as “where there are no police, there is no speed limit”.

ubi panis ibi patria

  • where there is bread, there is my country

ubi pus, ibi evacua

  • where there is pus, there evacuate it

ubi, re vera

  • when, in a true thing
  • description: Or “whereas, in reality…” Also rendered ubi, revera (“when, in fact” or “when, actually”).

ubi societas, ibi ius

  • if there’s a society, law will be there
  • description: By Aristotle.

ubi solitudinem faciunt pacem appellant

  • They make a desert and call it peace
  • description: from a speech by Calgacus reported/constructed by Tacitus, Agricola, ch. 30.

ubi sunt?

  • where are they?
  • description: Nostalgic theme of poems yearning for days gone by. From the line ubi sunt, qui ante nos fuerunt? (“Where are they, those who have gone before us?”).

ultima ratio

  • last method
  • description: The last resort. Short form for the metaphor “The Last Resort of Kings and Common Men” referring to the act of declaring war; used in the names the French sniper rifle PGM Ultima Ratio and the fictional Reason weapon system. Louis XIV of France had Ultima Ratio Regum (“last argument of kings”) cast on the cannons of his armies; motto of the American 1st Battalion 11th Marines; motto of the French Fourth Artillery Regiment; motto of Swedish Artilleriregementet. Also, the Third Battery of the French Third Marine Artillery Regiment has the motto Ultima Ratio Tribuni.
  • the final argument
  • the last resort (as force)

ultimo mense (ult.)

  • in the last month
  • description: Used in formal correspondence to refer to the previous month. Used with inst. (“this month”) and prox. (“next month”).

ultra vires

  • beyond powers
  • description: “Without authority”. Used to describe an action done without proper authority, or acting without the rules. The term will most often be used in connection with appeals and petitions.

ultra posse nemo obligatur

  • No one is obligated beyond what he is able to do.

ululas Athenas

  • (to send) owls to Athens
  • description: From Gerhard Gerhards’ (1466–1536) [better known as Erasmus] collection of annotated Adagia (1508). Latin translation of a classical Greek proverb. Generally means putting large effort in a necessarily fruitless enterprise. Compare “selling coal to Newcastle”.

una hirundo non facit ver

  • one swallow does not make summer
  • description: A single example of something positive does not necessarily mean that all subsequent similar instances will have the same outcome.

una salus victis nullam sperare salutem

  • the only safety for the conquered is to hope for no safety
  • description: Less literally, “the only safe bet for the vanquished is to expect no safety”. Preceded by moriamur et in media arma ruamus (“let us die even as we rush into the midst of battle”) in Virgil’s Aeneid, book 2, lines 353–354. Used in Tom Clancy’s novel Without Remorse, where character John Clark translates it as “the one hope of the doomed is not to hope for safety”. It was said several times in “Andromeda” as the motto of the SOF units.

unitas per servitiam

  • unity through service
  • description: Motto for the St. Xavier’s Institution Board of Librarians.

uno flatu

  • in one breath
  • description: Used in criticism of inconsistent pleadings, i.e. “one cannot argue uno flatu both that the company does not exist and that it is also responsible for the wrong.”

unus multorum

  • one of many
  • description: An average person.

Urbi et Orbi

  • to the city and the circle [of the lands]
  • description: Meaning “To Rome and the World”. A standard opening of Roman proclamations. Also a traditional blessing by the pope.

usque ad finem

  • to the very end
  • description: Often used in reference to battle, implying a willingness to keep fighting until you die.

usus est magister optimus

  • practice is the best teacher.
  • description: In other words, practice makes perfect. Also sometimes translated “use makes master.”

ut biberent quoniam esse nollent

  • so that they might drink, since they refused to eat
  • description: Also rendered with quando (“when”) in place of quoniam. From a book by Suetonius (Vit. Tib., 2.2) and Cicero (De Natura Deorum, 2.3). The phrase was said by Roman admiral Publius Claudius Pulcher right before the battle of Drepana, as he threw overboard the sacred chickens which had refused to eat the grain offered them—an unwelcome omen of bad luck. Thus, the sense is, “if they do not perform as expected, they must suffer the consequences”. He lost the battle disastrously.

ut desint vires, tamen est laudanda voluntas

  • though the power be lacking, the will is to be praised all the same
  • description: From Ovid, Epistulae ex Ponto (III, 4, 79).

ut dicitur

  • as has been said; as above

ut incepit fidelis sic permanet

  • as she began loyal, so she persists
  • description: Poetically, “Loyal she began, loyal she remains.” Motto of Ontario.

ut infra

  • as below

ut proverbium loquitur vetus…

  • you know what they say…
  • description: Lit: As the old proverb says…

ut res magis valeat quam pereat

  • that the matter may have effect rather than fail[3]

ut retro

  • as backwards
  • description: Or “as on the back side”; thus, “as on the previous page” (cf. ut supra).

ut Roma cadit, sic omnis terra

  • as Rome falls, so [falls] the whole world

ut sit finis litium

  • so there might be an end of litigation
  • description: A traditional brocard. The full form is Interest reipublicae ut sit finis litium, “it is in the government’s interest that there be an end to litigation.” Often quoted in the context of statutes of limitation.

ut supra

  • as above

ut tensio sic vis

  • as the extension, so the force
  • description: Robert Hooke’s expression of his discovery of his law of linear elasticity. Also: Motto of École Polytechnique de Montréal. Motto of the British Watch and Clockmaker’s Guild.

utilis in ministerium

  • usefulness in service
  • description: Comes from 2 Timothy 4:11. Motto of Camberwell Girls Grammar School.

utraque unum

  • both into one
  • description: Also translated as “that the two may be one.” Motto found in 18th century Spanish dollar coins. Motto of Georgetown University.From the Vulgate, Eph. 2:14, Ipse enim est pax nostra, qui fecit utraque unum, “For he is our peace, who hath made both one.”


vade ad formicam

  • go to the ant
  • description: From the Vulgate, Proverbs 6:6. The full quotation translates as “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!”[Pro 6:6]

vade mecum

  • go with me
  • description: A vade-mecum or vademecum is an item one carries around, especially a handbook.

vade retro Satana

  • go back, Satan
  • description: An exhortation to Satan to be gone, often a Roman Catholic response to temptation. From a popular Medieval Roman Catholic exorcism formula, derived from the rebuke of Jesus Christ to St. Peter, as quoted in the Vulgate, Mark 8:33: vade retro me Satana (“get behind Me, Satan”).[Mark 8:33] The phrase “vade retro” (“go back”) is also in Terence’s Formio, I, 4, 203.

vae victis

  • woe to the conquered
  • description: Attributed by Livy to Brennus, the chief of the Gauls, stated with his demand for more gold from the citizens of the sacked city of Rome in 390 BC.

vanitas vanitatum omnia vanitas

  • vanity of vanities; everything [is] vanity
  • description: Or more simply: “vanity, vanity, everything vanity”. From the Vulgate, Ecclesiastes 1:2;12:8.

vaticinium ex eventu

  • prophecy from the event
  • description: A purported prediction stated as if it was made before the event it describes, while in fact being made thereafter.

vel non

  • or not
  • description: Summary of alternatives, e. g., “this action turns upon whether the claimant was the deceased’s grandson vel non.”

velle est posse

  • to be willing is to be able
  • description: Non-literally, “where there is a will, there is a way”. It is the motto of Hillfield, one of the founding schools of Hillfield Strathallan College.

velocius quam asparagi coquantur

  • faster than asparagus can be cooked
  • description: Rendered by Robert Graves in I, Claudius as “as quick as boiled asparagus”. Ascribed to Augustus by Suetonius in The Twelve Caesars, Book 2 (Augustus), para. 87. It refers to anything done very quickly. A very common variant is celerius quam asparagi cocuntur (“faster than asparagus [is] cooked”).

veni, vidi, vici

  • I came, I saw, I conquered
  • description: The message supposedly sent by Julius Caesar to the Roman Senate to describe his battle against King Pharnaces II of Pontus near Zela in 47 BC.

vera causa

  • true cause

vera natura

  • true nature
  • description: Used in Metaphysics and specifically in Kant’s Transcendental Idealism to refer to a subject as it exists in its logically distinct form rather than as it is percieved by the human faculty.[1][2]

verba docent exempla trahunt

  • words instruct, illustrations lead
  • description: This refers to the relevance of illustrations, for example in preaching.

verba ex ore

  • words from mouth
  • description: Taking the words out of someone’s mouth, speaking exactly what the other colloquist wanted to say.

verba ita sunt intelligenda ut res magis valeat quam pereat

  • words are to be understood such that the subject matter may be more effective than wasted
  • description: I. e., when explaining a subject, it is important to clarify rather than confuse.

verba vana aut risui non loqui

  • not to speak words in vain or to start laughter
  • description: A Roman Catholic religious precept, being Rule 56 of the Rule of Saint Benedict.

verba volant, scripta manent

  • words fly away, writings remain
  • description: Quotation from a famous speech of Caius Titus in the ancient Roman Senate.


  • word for word
  • description: The phrase refers to perfect transcription or quotation.

verbatim et literatim

  • word for word and letter by letter

Verbi Divini minister

  • servant of the Divine Word
  • description: A phrase denoting a priest. Cf. “Verbum Dei” infra.

verbi gratia

  • for example
  • description: Literally, “for the sake of a word”.

(v. gr. or v. g.)

Verbum Dei

  • Word of God
  • description: See religious text.

verb. sap.

  • a word to the wise [is sufficient]
  • description: A phrase denoting that the listener can fill in the omitted remainder, or enough is said. It is the truncation of “verbum sapienti sat[is] est”.

verbum sap.

verbum volitans

  • flying word
  • description: A word that floats in the air, on which everyone is thinking and is just about to be imposed.[citation needed]


  • truth
  • description: Motto many educational institutions

veritas aequitas

  • truth [and] justice

veritas Christo et ecclesiae

  • truth for Christ and church
  • description: The de iure motto of Harvard University, United States, which dates to its foundation; it is often shortened to veritas to remove its original religious meaning.

veritas Domini manet in aeternum

  • the truth of the Lord remains for eternity

veritas et fortitudo

  • truth and fortitude
  • description: One of the mottos of the Lyceum of the Philippines University

veritas lux mea

  • truth [is] my light
  • description: A common, non-literal translation is “truth enlightens me”; motto of Seoul National University, South Korea

veritas numquam perit

  • truth never expires
  • description: by Seneca the Younger

veritas odit moras

  • truth hates delay
  • description: by Seneca the Younger

veritas omnia vincit

  • truth conquers all
  • description: A quotation from a letter of Jan Hus; frequently used as a motto

veritas vincit

  • truth conquers
  • description: Cf. “veritas omnia vincit” supra. Motto on the standard of the presidents of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic, and of the Scottish Clan Keith

veritas vitæ magistra

  • truth is the teacher of life
  • description: Another plausible translation is “truth is the mistress of life”. It is the unofficial motto of the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras and is inscribed in its tower.

veritatem dilexi

  • I esteemed truth
  • description: Alternatively, “I loved truth”; motto of Bryn Mawr College

vero possumus

  • yes, we can
  • description: A variation of the campaign slogan of then-Senator Barack Obama, which was superimposed on a variation of the Great Seal of the United States during the US presidential campaign of 2008.[3]

versus (vs) or (v.)

  • towards
  • description: Literally, “in the direction [of]”. It is erroneously used in English for “against”, probably as the truncation of “adversus”, especially in reference to two opponents, e. g., the parties to litigation or a sports match.


  • I forbid
  • description: The word denotes the right to unilaterally forbid or void a specific proposal, especially legislation. It is derived from ancient Roman voting procedures.

vexata quaestio

  • vexed question
  • description: Latin legal phrase denoting a question that is often debated or considered, but is not generally settled, such that contrary answers may be held by different persons.

vexilla regis prodeunt inferni

  • forth go the banners of the king of Hell
  • description: Authored by Dante Alighieri in Canto XXXIV of the Inferno, the phrase is an allusion to and play upon the Latin Easter hymn Vexilla Regis. The phrase is repeatedly referenced in the works of Walter M. Miller, Jr..

vi coactus

  • under constraint
  • description: A legal phrase regarding contracts that indicates agreement made under duress.

vi et animo

  • with heart and soul
  • description: Alternatively, “strength and courage”; motto of the Ascham School

vi veri universum vivus vici

  • by the power of truth, I, while living, have conquered the universe
  • description: Magickal motto of Aleister Crowley.


  • by the road/way
  • description: The word denotes “by way of” or “by means of”, e. g., “I will contact you via email”.

via media

  • middle road/way
  • description: This phrase describes a compromise between two extremes or the radical center political position.

via, veritas, vita

  • the Way, the Truth, [and] the Life
  • description: Words of Jesus Christ in John 14:6; motto of many institutions


  • in place of
  • description: The word refers to one who acts in the place of another. It is used as a separate word or as a hyphenated prefix, e. g., “Vice President” and “Vice-Chancellor”.

vice versa

  • with position turned
  • description: For other uses, see Vice Versa (disambiguation).

versa vice

  • description: Thus, “the other way around”, “conversely”, et cetera. Historically and in British English, vice is pronounced as two syllables, but in American English the singular syllable pronunciation is almost universal. Classical Latin pronunciation dictates that the letter “c” is only a hard sound, like “k”. Moreover, the letter “v”, when consonantal, represents /w/; hence WEE-keh WEHR-sah.[4]

victoria aut mors

  • victory or death
  • description: Similar to “aut vincere aut mori”.

victrix causa diis placuit sed victa Catoni

  • the victorious cause pleased the gods, but the conquered cause pleased Cato
  • description: Authored by Lucan in Pharsalia, 1, 128. The dedicatory inscription on the south face of the Confederate Memorial in Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia, United States.


  • “see” or “refer to”
  • description: The word is used in scholarly citations.

vide infra (v. i.)

  • see below
  • description: The word is used in scholarly works.

vide supra (v. s.)

  • see above
  • description: The word is used in scholarly works to refer to previous text in the same document. It is sometimes truncated to “supra”.

videlicet (viz.)

  • “namely”, “that is to say”, or “as follows”
  • description: A contraction of “videre licet” (“it is permitted to see”), vide infra.

video meliora proboque deteriora sequor

  • I see and approve of the better, but I follow the worse
  • description: From the Metamorphoses Book 7, 20-1 of Ovid, being a summary of the experience of akrasia.

video sed non credo

  • I see it, but I do not believe it
  • description: The statement of Caspar Hofmann [de] after being shown proof of the circulatory system by William Harvey.

videre licet

  • “it is permitted to see” or “one may see”
  • description: The phrase is used in scholarship.

vince malum bono

  • overcome evil with good
  • description: A partial quotation of Romans 12:21; motto of Old Swinford Hospital and Bishop Cotton School in Shimla

vincere scis Hannibal victoria uti nescis

  • you know [how] to win, Hannibal; you do not know [how] to use victory
  • description: According to Livy, a colonel in the cavalry stated this to Hannibal after victory in the Battle of Cannae in 216 BCE, meaning that Hannibal should have marched on Rome immediately.

vincit omnia veritas

  • truth conquers all
  • description: University of Mindanao

vincit qui patitur

  • he conquers who endures
  • description: First attributed to the Roman scholar and satirst Persius; frequently used as a motto.

vinculum juris

  • the chain of the law
  • description: The phrase denotes that a thing is legally binding. “A civil obligation is one which has a binding operation in law, vinculum juris.” (Bouvier’s Law Dictionary (1856), “Obligation”)

vinum et musica laetificant cor

  • wine and music gladden the heart
  • description: Asterix and Caesar’s Gift; it is a variation of “vinum bonum laetificat cor hominis”.

vinum regum, rex vinorum

  • the wine of kings, the king of wines
  • description: The phrase describes Hungarian Tokaji wine, and is attributed to King Louis XIV of France.

viperam sub ala nutricare

  • a viper nursed at the bosom
  • description: A caveat regarding trusting someone against his inherent nature; the moral of Aesop’s fable The Farmer and the Viper.

vir prudens non contra ventum mingit

  • [a] wise man does not urinate [up] against the wind

Vires acquirit eundo

  • she gathers strength as she goes
  • description: A quotation from Vergil’s Aeneid, Book 4, 175, which in the original context refers to Pheme. Motto on the Coat of arms of Melbourne

virtus et labor

  • virtue and [hard] work

virtus et scientia

  • virtue and knowledge
  • description: Common motto

virtus in media stat

  • virtue stands in the middle
  • description: A principle derived from the ethical theory of Aristotle. Idiomatically, “good practice lies in the middle path” between two extremes. It is disputed whether media or medio is correct.

virtus junxit mors non separabit

  • that which virtue unites, let not death separate

virtus unita fortior

  • virtue united [is] stronger
  • description: State motto of Andorra

virtute duce

  • led by virtue

virtute duce comite fortuna

  • led by virtue, accompanied by [good] fortune

virtute et armis

  • by virtue and arms
  • description: Alternatively, “by manliness and weapons”. The State motto of Mississippi, United States. The phrase was possibly derived from the motto of Lord Gray de Wilton, virtute non armis fido (“I trust in virtue, not in arms”).

vis legis

  • the power of the law

vis major

  • force majeure, superior force

visio dei

  • vision of a god

vita ante acta

  • a life done before
  • description: The phrase denotes a previous life, generally believed to be the result of reincarnation.

vita incerta, mors certissima

  • life is uncertain, death is most certain
  • description: More simply, “the most certain thing in life is death”.

vita mutatur, non tollitur

  • life is changed, not taken away
  • description: The phrase is a quotation from the preface of the first Roman Catholic rite of the Mass for the Dead.

vita patris

  • during the life of the father
  • description: Hence the term “decessit vita patris” (d. v. p) or “died v. p.”, which is seen in genealogical works such as Burke’s Peerage.

vita summa brevis spem nos vetat incohare longam

  • the shortness of life prevents us from entertaining far-off hopes
  • description: This is a wistful refrain that is sometimes used ironically. It is derived from the first line of Horace’s Ode 1. It was later used as the title of a short poem of Ernest Dowson.

vitai lampada tradunt

  • they hand on the torch of life
  • description: A quotation from the poem of Lucretius, De rerum natura, Book 2, 77-9. The ordinary spelling “vitae” in two syllables had to be changed to “vitaï” in three syllables to satisfy the requirements of the poem’s dactylic hexameters. Motto of the Sydney Church of England Grammar School and others.

viva voce

  • living voice
  • description: The phrase denotes an oral, as opposed to written, examination of a candidate.

vivat crescat floreat

  • may it live, grow, [and] flourish

vivat rex

  • may the king live
  • description: The acclamation is ordinary translated as “long live the king!”. In the case of a queen, “vivat regina” (“long live the queen”).

vivat rex, curat lex

  • long live the king, guardian of the law
  • description: A curious translation of the pun on “vivat rex”, found in Westerham parish church in Kent, England.

vive memor leti

  • live remembering death
  • description: Authored by Persius. Cf. “memento mori”.

vive ut vivas

  • live so that you may live
  • description: The phrase suggests that one should live life to the fullest and without fear of the possible consequences.

vivere est cogitare

  • to live is to think
  • description: Authored by Cicero. Cf. “cogito ergo sum”.

vivere militare est

  • to live is to fight
  • description: Authored by Seneca the Younger in Epistle 96, 5. Cf. the allegory of Miles Christianus based on “militia est vita hominis” from the Vulgate, Book of Job 7:1.

vocatus atque non vocatus Deus aderit

  • called and not called, God will be present
  • description: Alternatively, “called and even not called, God approaches”. Attributed to the Oracle at Delphi. Motto of Carl Jung, and inscribed in his home and grave.

volenti non fit injuria

  • to one willing, no harm is done
  • description: Alternatively, “to him who consents, no harm is done”. The principle is used in the law of torts and denotes that one can not be held liable for injuries inflicted on another who consented to the act that injured him.

vos estis sal terrae

  • you are the salt of the earth
  • description: A famous biblical sentence proclaimed by Jesus Christ.

votum separatum

  • separate vow
  • description: The phrase denotes an independent, minority voice.

vox clamantis in deserto

  • the voice of one clamoring in the desert
  • description: Or traditionally, “the voice of one crying in the wilderness”. A quotation of the Vulgate, Isaiah 40:3, and quoted by St. John the Baptist in Mark 1:3 and John 1:23). Motto of Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, United States.

vox nihili

  • voice of nothing
  • description: The phrase denotes a useless or ambiguous statement.

vox populi

  • voice of the people
  • description: The phrase denotes a brief interview of a common person that is not previously arranged, e. g., an interview on a street. It is sometimes truncated to “vox pop.”

vox populi, vox Dei

  • the voice of the people [is] the voice of God
  • description: In the opinion of the majority of the people.

vulpes pilum mutat, non mores

  • the fox changes his fur, not his habits
  • description: By extension, and in common morality, humanity can change their attitudes, but they will hardly change their objectives or what they have set themselves to achieve. Ascribed to Titus by Suetonius in the eighth book (chapter 16) of The Twelve Caesars.

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  • Marek Dubiński, Sentencje łacińskie
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