Latin Phrases

The Romans

Latin English
ab ovo usque ad mala from eggs to apples
ad astra per aspera to the stars through difficulties (Kansas)
ad infinitu> to infinity, i.e., without limit
ad Kalendas Gratd At the Greek Kalends; hence, never
ad maiorem Dei gloriam to the greater glory of God
ad nauseam to [the point of] seasickness or disgust
Alea iacta est The die is cast
Alis volat propriis He flies by his own wings
alter ego second self
Amantium irae amoris integratio est The quarrels of lovers are the renewal of love (Terence; quoted by Winston Churchill)
Alma Mater nuturing mother (applied to a school or college)
Amari usque ad mare From sea to sea (Canada)
amicus curiae friend of the court
Annuit coeptis [God] has smiled on our undertakings (on the seal of the United States
ante bellum before the war
aqua vitae water of life (formerly applied to alcohol)
argumentum ad hominem argument to the man, i.e., one that appeals to the person addressed
Arma non servant modum Armies do not show (preserve) restraint
Arma tuentur pacem Arms maintain peace
Ars longa, vita brevis Art is long, life is short
Aspirat primo Fortuna labori Fortune smiles upon our first effort (Virgil)
Assiduus usus uni rei deditus et ingenium et artem saepe vincit Constant practice devoted to one subject often outdues both intelligence and skill (Cicero)
Audemus Jura Nostra Defendere We dare defend our rights (Alabama)
Audi et alteram partem Hear the other side too
aut Caesar aut nihil Either Caesar or nothing
Aut insanit homo, aut versus facit The fellow is either mad or he is composing verses
auxilio ab alto by aid from [on] high
bona fide in good faith
Carpe diem Seize the day (Horace)
casus belli an occasion for war
Cave canem Beware of the dog
consilio et armis by counsel and by arms
corpus delicti the body (facts) of the crime
cui bono? for whose benefit is it? What good is it?
cum grano salis with a grain of salt
cum laude with honor (praise)
Curia pauperibus clausa est The Senate House keeps its doors closed to the poor
de facto from or according to fact, actual
de iure according to right
de novo anew, literally, from a new [start]
Dei gratia by the grace of God (seen on Canadian coins)
Deo gratias thanks to God
Disciplina praesidium civitatis The instruction [and] protection of the state (University of Texas)
Ditat Deus God enriches (Arizona)
Divide et impera Divide and conquer
Dominus providebit The Lord will provide
dramatis personae characters of the play
Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori It is sweet and glorious to die for one's country (Horace)
Dum spiro spero While I breathe I hope
Dux femina facti A woman [was] leader in (of) the deed
e pluribus unum one [country] out of many [states] (motto of the United states, found on coins)
Elizabeth regina Elizabeth the queen
Ense petit placidam sub libertate quietem With the sword she seeks quiet peace under liberty (Massachusetts)
errare humanum est to err is human
erratum (plur. errata) error
esse quam videri to be rather than to seem (North Carolina)
Est modus in rebus There is a middle ground in things
Esto Perpetua Let it be forever (Idaho)
Et tu, Brute you too, Brutus (Caesar’s last words)
ex animo from the heart (sincerely)
ex officio out of (as a result of) one’s duty or office
ex parte on [one] side
ex post facto resulting after the fact
Ex uno disce omnes From one learn [about them] all
excelsior higher (New York)
Excitabat fluctus in simpulo He was stirring up billows in a ladle (Cicero)
Exigo a me non ut optimis par sim sed ut malis melior I require myself not to be equal to the best, but to be better than the bad (Seneca)
Experientia docet experience teaches
extempore without preparation (lit., from the moment)
Facilis descensus Averno Easy is the descent to Avernus, i.e., the Lower World
Facilius per partes in cognitionem totius adducimur We are more easily led part by part to an understanding of the whole (Seneca)
facta, non verba deeds, not words
Fata viam invenient The Fates will find a way
Fide, non armis By faith, not arms
Fortes et Liber Strong and free (Alberta)
Fortes Fortuna adiuvat Fortune aids the brave
Fortuna caeca est Fortune is blind
genus homo the human race (humankind)
Helluo librorum A glutton for books (bookworm)
Homo proponit, sed Deus disponit Man proposes, but God disposes
homo sapiens man having sense, i.e., human being
hostis humani generis enemy of the human race
Ilium fuit Ilium (Troy) no longer exists; applied to anything that is past and gone
imperium et libertas empire and freedom
in absentia in absence
In Deo speramus In God we trust (Brown University)
in forma pauperis in the form (or manner) of a poor man
in hoc signo vinces in this sign (cross), you will conquer (told to Constantine before battle of Milvian Bridge)
in libris libertas in books [there is] freedom (L.A. Public Library)
in loco parentis in place of a parent
in medias res into the middle of things
in memoriam to the memory [of]
in nomine Domini in the name of the Lord
in omnia paratus prepared for all things
in perpetuum (into perpetuity) forever
in propria persona in one's own person (not through someone else)
in re in the matter of
in statu quo in the situation in which [it was before]
in toto in the whole
inter alia among other things
inter nos between us
Ipse dixit He himself said it
ipsissima verba the very words
ipso facto by the fact itself, thereby
ius gentium the law of nations
iustita omnibus justice for all (Washington, D.C.)
Labor omnia vincit work conquers all (Oklahoma, University of Illinois, and the American Federation of Labor)
Legum servi sumus ut liberi esse possimus We are slaves of the laws in order that we may be free (Cicero)
lex scripta the written law
Littera scripta manet the written letter lasts
lux ex oriente light from the east
Karthago delenda est Carthage must be destroyed (Cato Maior)
Magna Charta the Great Paper
magna cum laude with high honor
magnum bonum great good
magnum opus a great work
Manus manum lavat Hand washes hand, i.e., one hand washes the other
mare clausum a closed sea
materia medica medical material
Me duce tutus eris Under my leadership you will be safe
me iudice (I being judge) in my judgement
Memento mori Remember to die (whispered into the ear of a general during a triumphal procession)
Mens regnum bona possidet An honest heart is a kingdom in itself (Seneca)
mens sana in corpore sano a healthy mind in a healthy body
mihi cura futuri my concern is the future
mirabile dictu wonderful to say
modus operandi method of operating
Montani semper liberi Mountaineers [are] always free (West Virginia)
multum in parvo much in little
Munit haec et altera vincit One defends and the other conquers (Nova Scotia)
ne plus ultra no more beyond, i.e., nothing better
Nil Sine Numine Nothing without providence (Colorado)
non compos mentis not in possession of one's senses
nosce te ipsum know thyself
Nova Scotia New Scotland
novus homo a new man [in politics]
novus ordo seclorum a new series of generations
Nullus est liber tam malus ut non aliqua parte prosit There is no book so bad that it is not profitable in some part (Pliny Minor)
non sibi sed suis not for one's self but for one's own
nunc pro tunc now as of then
obiter dictum [something] said by the way (ob iter), incidentally
Omnia iam fient quae posse negabam Everything which I used to say could not happen will happen now (Ovid)
Omnia reliquit servare rem publicam He left everything to save the state
Parva sub ingenti The small under the protection of the great (Prince Edward Island)
Pater Noster Our Father, i.e., the Lord's Prayer
pauci quos aequus amat Iuppiter the few whom fair-minded Jupiter loves
pax in bello peace in [the midst of] war
Pax vobiscum! Peace [be] with you!
per annum by the year
per capita by heads or individuals
per diem by the day
per se by itself
persona non grata an unwelcome person
Poeta nascitur, non fit The poet is born, not made
Possunt quia posse videntur They can because they think they can
Post bellum, auxilium Aid after the war
post mortem after death
prima facie on the first face (of it); as prima facie evidence
primus inter pares first among his equals
pro bono publico for the public good
pro forma for (as a matter of) form
pro patria for [one’s] country
Quaerite prime regnum Dei Seek ye first the kingdom of God (Newfoundland)
Quam se ipse amans-sine rivale! Himself loving himself so much-without a rival! (Cicero)
Que Transtulit Sustinet He who transplanted still sustains (Connecticut)
Qui dedit benificium taceat; narret qui accepit Let him who has done a good deed be silent; let him who has received it tell it (Seneca)
quid pro quo something for something ("tit for tat")
rara avis a rare bird
Ratio et consilium propriae ducis artes Reason and deliberation are the proper skills of a general
Regnat Populus The people rule (Arkansas)
Res ad triarios rediit The situation has come down to the triarii (Livy)
Rex regnant sed non gubernat The king reigns but does not govern
Saepe ne utile quidem est scire quid futurum sit Often it is not even advantageous to know what will be (Cicero)
Salus populi suprema lex esto Let the welfare of the people be the supreme law (Missouri)
Sedit qui timuit ne non succederet He who feared he would not succeed sat still (Horace)
semper idem always the same thing
semper paratus always prepared
Sequens mirabitur aetas The following age will be amazed
Si monumentum requiris circumspice If you see a monument, look around (Sir Christopher Wren's epitaph in St. Paul's Cathedral
Si quaeris peninsulam amoenam circumspice If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you (Michigan)
Si vis pacem, para bellum If you want peace, prepare for war
sic semper tyrannis thus always to tyrants (Virginia)
sine die without a day [being set]
sine qua non without which not (a necessity)
Splendor sine occasu Splendour without end (British Columbia)
status quo the situation in which [it was before]
Struit insidias lacrimis cum femina plorat When a woman weeps, she is setting traps with her tears (Dionysus Cato)
sub rosa under the rose, i.e., in concealment
Sub sole nihil novi est There's nothing new under the sun
subpoena under penalty (a summons to court)
sui generis of one's own kind
summa cum laude with highest honor
summum bonum the highest good
sursum corda [lift] up [your] hearts
Tarditas et procrstinatio odiosa est Delay-putting things off until tomorrow-is hateful (Cicero)
Te Deum Thee, God [we praise] ; the name of a hymn
Tempus fugit Time flies
terra firma solid earth (as opposed to water and air)
terra incognita an unknown land
Timendi causa est nescire Ignorance is the cause of fear (Seneca)
Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes I fear the Greeks even when they bring gifts (Virgil)
Trahimur omnes laudis studio We are all led on by our eagerness for praise
Ultima Thule Farthest North
una voce with one voice, unanimously
Urbem latericium invenit, marmoream reliquit He found the city a city of bricks; he left it a city of marble (The boast of Augustus)
urbs et orbis city and world
Ut incepit fidelis sic permanet As loyal as she began, so she remains (Ontario)
Vanitas vanitatum et omnia vanitas Vanity of vanities, and all [is] vanity
Velle est posse To be willing is to be able
Veni, vidi, vici I came, I saw, I conquered (said by Caesar after Zela)
Verbum sapienti sat est A word to the wise is sufficient
Vestis virum facit Clothes make the man
via media a middle way or course
vice versa in reverse
victoria, non praeda victory, not loot
virginibus puerisque for girls and boys
Virtute et armis By courage and by arms (Mississippi)
Vitanda est improba siren desidia One must steer clear of the wicked temptress, Laziness (Horace)
Volo, non valeo I am willing but unable
vox humana the human voice
Vox populi vox Dei The voice of the people [is] the voice of God


A.B. (Artium Baccalaureus) Bachelor of Arts
A.D. (anno domini) in the year of the Lord
ad fin. (ad finem) near the end [of the page]
ad lib. (ad libitum) at pleasure
Ag (argentum) silver
A.M. (ante meridiem before midday
Au (aurum) gold
A.U.C. (ab urbe condita) from the city's founding
cf. (confer) compare
d. (denarius) penny
D.V. (Deo volente) God willing
e.g. (exempli gratia) for [the sake of an] example
et al. (et alii) and others
etc. (et cetera) and the rest, and so forth
fec. (fecit) he made [it]
ibid. (ibidem) in the same place
id. (idem) the same, i.e., as mentioned above
i.e. (id est) that is
in loc. (in loco) in the place
inv. (invenit) he invented [it]
lb. (libra) pound
LL. D. (Legum Doctor) Doctor of Laws
loc. cit. (loco citato) in the place cited
M.(meridies) midday
M.D. (Medicinae Doctor) Doctor of Medicine
N.B. (Nota bene) Note well
no. (numero) by number
op. cit. (opere citato) in the work cited
per cent. (per centum) per cent, per hundred
Ph. D. (Philosophiae Doctor) Doctor of Philosophy
P.M. (post meridiem) after midday
pro tem. (pro tempore) for the time, temporarily
prox. (proximo mense) next month
P.S. (post scriptum) written after
Q.E.D. (quod erat demonstrandum) Which was to be demonstrated
q.v. (quod vide) which see
S.P.Q.R. (Senatus Populusque Romanus) The Senate and the Roman People
s.v. (sub vero) under the word
ult. (ultimo mense) last month
vs. (versus) against