Appendix:List of Latin phrases (A–E)

Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary

This appendix lists direct English translations of Latin phrases. Some of the phrases are themselves translations of Greek phrases, as Greek rhetoric and literature reached its peak centuries before that of Ancient Rome:



A [ edit ]

Latin Translation Notes
a bene placito "from one who has been pleased well" Or "at will", "at one's pleasure". This phrase, and its Italian (beneplacito) and Spanish (beneplácito) derivatives, are synonymous with the more common ad libitum ("at pleasure").
abusus non tollit usum "abuse does not preclude proper use"
a caelo usque ad centrum "from the sky to the center" Or "from heaven all the way to the center of the earth". In law, can refer to the obsolete cuius est solum eius est usque ad coelum et ad inferos maxim of property ownership.
a capite ad calcem "from head to heel" From top to bottom; all the way through. Equally a pedibus usque ad caput.
a contrario "from the opposite" Equivalent to "on the contrary" or "au contraire". An argumentum a contrario is an "argument from the contrary", an argument or proof by contrast or direct opposite.
a Deucalione "since Deucalion" A long time ago. From Gaius Lucilius (Satires, 6, 284)
a fortiori "from the stronger" Loosely, "even more so" or "with even stronger reason". Often used to lead from a less certain proposition to a more evident corollary.
a mari usque ad mare "from sea to 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.
a pedibus usque ad caput "from feet to head" Completely. Similar to the English expressions "from tip to toe" or "from top to toe". Equally a capite ad calcem. See also ab ovo usque ad mala.
a posse ad esse "from being able to being" "From possibility to actuality" or "from being possible to being actual"
a posteriori "from the latter" Based on observation (i.e., empirical knowledge), 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 that can be known from empirical experience.
a priori "from the former" Presupposed, 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 that can be known without empirical experience. In everyday speech, it denotes something occurring or being known before the event.
ab absurdo "from the absurd" Said of an argument that seeks to prove a statement's validity by pointing out the absurdity of an opponent's position (cf. appeal to ridicule) or that an assertion is false because of its absurdity. Not to be confused with a reductio ad absurdum, which is usually a valid logical argument.
ab abusu ad usum non valet consequentia "a consequence from an abuse to a use is not valid" Inferences regarding something's use from its misuse are invalid. Rights abused are still rights (cf. abusus non tollit usum).
ab aeterno "from the eternal" Literally, "from the everlasting" or "from eternity". Thus, "from time immemorial", "since the beginning of time" or "from an infinitely remote time in the past". In theology, often indicates something, such as the universe, that was created outside of time.
ab antiquo "from the ancient" From ancient times.
ab epistulis "from the letter" Or, having to do with correspondence.
ab extra "from beyond" A legal term meaning "from without". From external sources, rather than from the self or the mind (ab intra).
ab hinc "from here on" Often rendered abhinc (which in Latin means simply "since" or "ago").
ab imo pectore "from the bottom of my heart" More literally, "from the deepest chest". Attributed to Julius Caesar. Can mean "with deepest affection" or "sincerely".
ab inconvenienti "from an inconvenient thing" 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; it refers to a rule in law that an argument from inconvenience has great weight.
ab incunabulis "from the cradle" 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 around AD 1500.
ab initio "from the beginning" "At the outset", referring to an inquiry or investigation. In literature, refers to a story told from the beginning rather than in medias res (from the middle). In law, refers to something being the case from the start or from the instant of the act, rather than from when the court declared it so. A judicial declaration of the invalidity of a marriage ab initio is a nullity. In science, refers to the first principles. In other contexts, often refers to beginner or training courses. Ab initio mundi means "from the beginning of the world".
ab intestato "from an intestate" From someone who dies with no legal will (cf. ex testamento).
ab intra "from within" From the inside. The opposite of ab extra.
ab irato "from an angry man" By a person who is angry. Used in law to describe a decision or action that is detrimental to those it affects and was made based on hatred or anger, rather than on reason. The form irato is masculine; however, this does not mean it applies only to men, rather 'person' is meant, as the phrase probably elides "homo," not "vir."
ab origine "from the source" From the origin, beginning, source, or commencement—i.e., "originally". The source of the word aboriginal.
ab ovo usque ad mala "from the egg to the apples" 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 also connote thoroughness.
ab uno disce omnes "from one, learn all" From Virgil's Aeneid. Refers to situations where a single example or observation indicates a general or universal truth.
ab urbe condita (a.u.c.) "from the founding of the city" Refers to the founding of Rome, which occurred in 753 BC according to Livy's count. Used as a reference point in ancient Rome for establishing dates, before being supplanted by other systems. Also anno urbis conditae (a.u.c.) ("in the year that the city was founded").
ab utili "from utility" Used of an argument.
absens haeres non erit "an absent person will not be an heir" In law, refers to the principle that someone who is not present is unlikely to inherit.
absente reo (abs. re.) "with the defendant being absent" In the absence of the accused.
absit iniuria "let injury be absent" Expresses the wish that no insult or wrong be conveyed 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/jealousy be absent" Said in the context of a statement of excellence. Unlike the English expression "no offense", absit invidia is intended to ward off jealous deities who might interpret a statement of excellence as hubris. Also extended to absit invidia verbo, meaning "may ill will/jealousy be absent from these words." Contrast with absit iniuria. An explanation of Livy's usage.
absit omen "let an omen be absent" In other words, "let there not be an omen here". 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" Total power or sovereignty.
absolvo "I acquit" A legal term said by a judge acquitting a defendant following a trial. Te absolvo or absolvo te, translated, "I forgive you," said by Roman Catholic priests during the Sacrament of Confession prior to Vatican II.
abundans cautela non nocet "abundant caution does no harm" Thus, one can never be too careful; even excessive precautions don't hurt anyone.
abusus non tollit usum "misuse does not remove use" An axiom stating that just because something can be, or has been, abused, does not mean that it must be, or always is. Abuse does not, in itself, justify denial of use
accusare nemo se debet nisi coram Deo "no one ought to accuse himself except in the Presence of God" A legal maxim denoting that any accused person is entitled to make a plea of not guilty, and also that a witness is not obliged to give a response or submit a document that will incriminate himself. A very similar phrase is nemo tenetur seipsum accusare.
Accipe Hoc "Take that" Motto of 848 Naval Air Squadron, Royal Navy.
acta est fabula plaudite "The play has been performed; applaud!" A common ending to ancient Roman comedies, also claimed by Suetonius in Lives of the Twelve Caesars to have been Caesar Augustus' last words. Applied by Sibelius to the third movement of his String Quartet no. 2 so that his audience would realize it was the last one, as a fourth would normally be expected.
acta non verba "actions, not words" Motto of the United States Merchant Marine Academy.
Acta Sanctorum "Deeds of the Saints" Also used in the singular, Acta Sancti ("Deeds of the Saint"), preceding a specific Saint's name. A common title of works in hagiography.
actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea "The act is not guilty unless the mind is also guilty." A legal term outlining the presumption of mens rea in a crime.
actus reus "guilty act" The actual crime that is committed, rather than the intent or thought process leading up to the crime. Thus, the external elements of a crime, as contrasted with mens rea, the internal elements.
ad absurdum "to the absurd" 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").
adaequatio intellectûs nostri cum re "conformity of our minds to the fact" A phrase used in epistemology regarding the nature of understanding.
ad abundantiam "to abundance" 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 astra "to the stars" Name or motto (in full or part) of many organizations/publications/etc.
ad astra per aspera "to the stars through difficulty" Motto of Kansas, and other organisations.
ad astra per alia porci "to the stars on the wings of a pig" A favorite saying of John Steinbeck. A professor told him that he would be an author when pigs flew. Every book he wrote is printed with this insignia.
ad captandum vulgus "in order to court the crowd" To do something to appeal to the masses. Often used of politicians who make false or insincere promises to appeal to popular interest. An argumentum ad captandum is an argument designed to please the crowd.
ad eundem "to the same" 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 one university or college to an alumnus of another. It is not an honorary degree, but a recognition of the formal learning that earned the degree at another college.
ad fontes "to the sources" A motto of Renaissance humanism. Also used in the Protestant Reformation.
ad fundum "to the bottom" Said during a generic toast, equivalent to "bottoms up!" In other contexts, generally means "back to the basics".
ad hoc "to this" Generally means "for this", in the sense of improvised on the spot or designed for only a specific, immediate purpose.

Rather than relying on ad hoc decisions, we should form a consistent plan for dealing with emergency situations.

ad hominem "to the man" Connotations of "against 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 validity of an argument is to some degree dependent on the qualities of the proponent.
ad honorem "to the honor" Generally means "for the honor", not seeking any material reward.
ad infinitum "to infinity" Going on forever. Used to designate a property which repeats in all cases in mathematical proof.
ad interim (ad int) "for the meantime" As in the term "chargé d'affaires ad interim" for a diplomatic officer who acts in place of an ambassador.
ad Kalendas Graecas "to the Greek Kalends" Attributed by Suetonius in Lives of the Twelve Caesars to Caesar Augustus. The phrase means "never" and is similar to phrases like "when pigs fly". The Kalends (also written Calends) were specific days of the Roman calendar, not of the Greek, and so the "Greek Kalends" would never occur.
ad libitum (ad lib) "toward pleasure" 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.
ad litem "to the lawsuit" A legal term 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 lucem "to the light" Motto of Oxford High School (Oxford), the University of Lisbon, Withington Girls' School and St. Bartholomew's School, Newbury, UK
ad maiorem Dei gloriam (AMDG) "To the greater glory of God" Motto of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). Johann Sebastian Bach dedicated all of his work with the abbreviation "AMDG", and Edward Elgar's The Dream of Gerontius is similarly dedicated. Often rendered ad majorem Dei gloriam.
ad multos annos "To many years!" Expresses a wish for a long life. Similar to the English expression "Many happy returns!"
ad nauseam "to the point of disgust" Literally, "to the point of nausea". Sometimes used as a humorous alternative to ad infinitum. An argumentum ad nauseam is a logical fallacy involving basing one's argument on prolonged repetition, i.e., repeating something so much that people are "sick of it".
ad oculos "With your own eyes." Meaning "obvious on sight" or "obvious to anyone that sees it".
ad pedem litterae "to the foot of the letter" Thus, "exactly as it is written". Similar to the English idiom "to the letter", meaning "to the last detail".
ad perpetuam memoriam "to the perpetual memory" 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" 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 what damage" 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 injuria).
ad referendum
(ad ref)
" >
"to that which must be brought back" Loosely "subject to reference", meaning that something has been approved provisionally, but must still receive official approval. Not necessarily related to a referendum.
ad rem "to the matter" Thus, "to the point". Without digression.

Thank you for your concise, ad rem response.

ad undas "to the waves" Equivalent to "to hell".
ad usum Delphini "for the use of the Dauphin" Said of a work that has been expurgated of offensive or improper parts. The phrase originates from editions of Greek and Roman classics which Louis XIV 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 utrumque paratus "prepared for either alternative". Also the motto of Lund University, with the implied alternatives being the book (study) and the sword (defending the country in war).
ad valorem "to the value" According to an object's value. Used in commerce to refer to ad valorem taxes, taxes based on the assessed value of real estate or personal property.
ad victoriam "to victory" More commonly translated into "for victory" this is a battlecry of the Romans.
ad vitam aeternam "to eternal life" Also "to life everlasting". A common Biblical phrase.
ad vitam aut culpam "for life or until fault" Usually used of a term of office.
addendum "thing to be added" An item to be added, especially a supplement to a book. The plural is addenda.
adequatio intellectus et rei "correspondence of the mind and reality" One of the definitions of the truth. When the mind has the same form as reality, we think truth. Also found as adequatio rei et intellectus.
adsum "I am here" Equivalent to "Present!" or "Here!" The opposite of absum ("I am absent").
adversus solem ne loquitor "Don't speak against the sun" I.e., don't argue the obvious
aegri somnia "a sick man's dreams" From Horace, Ars Poetica, 7. Loosely, "troubled dreams".
aequitas "Justice" or "equality."
aetatis suae "of his own age" Thus, "at the age of". Appeared on portraits, gravestones, etc. Sometimes extended to anno aetatis suae (AAS), "in the year of his age". Sometimes shortened to just aetatis (aet.).

The tomb reads Anno 1629 Aetatis Suae 46 because she died in 1629 at age 46.

affidavit "he asserted" A legal term from Medieval Latin referring to a sworn statement. From fides, "faith".
age quod agis "Do what you are doing."
agenda "things to be done" Originally comparable to a to-do list, an ordered list of things to be done. Now generalized to include any planned course of action. The singular, agendum ("thing that must be done"), is rarely used.
Agnus Dei "Lamb of God" Latin translation from John 1:36, where John the Baptist exclaims "Ecce Agnus Dei!" ("Behold the Lamb of God!") upon seeing Jesus, referring both to a lamb's connotations of innocence and to a sacrificial lamb.
alea iacta est "the die is cast" Said by Julius Caesar upon crossing the Rubicon in 49 BC, according to Suetonius. The original meaning was roughly equivalent to the English phrase "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.
alenda lux ubi orta libertas "Let learning be cherished where liberty has arisen." The motto of Davidson College.
alias "otherwise" An assumed name or pseudonym. Similar to alter ego, but more specifically referring to a name, not to a "second self".
alibi "elsewhere" A legal defense where a defendant attempts to show that he was elsewhere at the time a crime was committed.

His alibi is sound; he gave evidence that he was in another city on the night of the murder.

alis aquilae "on eagles wings" taken from the Book of Isaiah, Chapter 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 to those who have wings" motto of the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro- PUC-RIO).
alis volat propris "she flies with her own wings" State motto of Oregon. Can also be rendered alis volat propriis.
Aliquantus "Rather big"
Aliquantulus "Not that big"
aliquid stat pro aliquo "something that stands for something else" A foundational definition for semiotics
alma mater "nourishing mother" 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 "other I" 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 belong to another that can belong to himself" 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" (fable "XXIb. De ranis a Iove querentibus regem"). Motto of Paracelsus. Usually attributed to Cicero.
alterum non laedere "to not wound another" One of Justinian I's three basic legal precepts.
alumna or
"pupil" Sometimes rendered with the gender-neutral alumn or alum in English. A graduate or former student of a school, college or university. Alumna (pl. alumnae) is a female pupil, and alumnus (pl. alumni) is a male pupil—alumni is generally used for a group of both males and females. The word derives from alere, "to nourish", a graduate being someone who was raised and taken care of at the school (cf. alma mater).
amicus curiae "friend of the court" An adviser, or a person who can obtain or grant access to the favour of powerful group, like a Roman Curia. In current U.S. 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.
amiterre legem terrae "to lose the law of the land" An obsolete legal term signifying the forfeiture of the right of swearing in any court or cause, or to become infamous.
amor est vitae essentia "love is the essence of life" As said by Robert B. Mackay, Australian Analyst.
amor et melle et felle est fecundissmismus "love is rich with both honey and venom"
Amor fati "love of fate" Nietzscheian alternative world view to memento mori [remember you must die]. Nietzsche believed amor fati to be more life affirming.
amor omnibus idem "love is the same for all" from Virgil's Georgics III.
amor patriae "love of one's country" Patriotism.
amor vincit omnia "love conquers all" Written on bracelet worn by the Prioress in Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales. See also veritas omnia vincit and labor omnia vincit.
animus omnia vincit "courage conquers all" Motto of North Mesquite High School, Mesquite, Texas.
anno (an.) "in the year" 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 the Lord" Short for Anno Domini Nostri Iesus 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 Jesus' birth were once marked with a. C.n (Ante Christum Natum, "Before Christ was Born"), but now use the English abbreviation BC ("Before Christ").

Augustus was born in the year 63 BC, and died AD 14.

anno regni "In the year of the reign" Precedes "of" and the current ruler.
Annuit Cœptis "He Has Approved the Undertakings" Motto on the reverse of the Great Seal of the United States and on the back of the U.S. one dollar bill. "He" refers to God, and so the official translation given by the U.S. State Department is "He [God] has favored our undertakings".
annus horribilis "horrible year" A recent pun on annus mirabilis, first used by Queen Elizabeth II to describe what a bad year 1992 had been for her, and subsequently occasionally used to refer to many other years perceived as "horrible". In Classical Latin, this phrase would actually mean "terrifying year". See also annus terribilis.
annus mirabilis "wonderful year" Used particularly to refer to the years 1665–1666, during which Isaac Newton made revolutionary inventions and discoveries in

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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 and the special theory of relativity. (See Annus Mirabilis Papers)

annus terribilis "dreadful year" Used to describe 1348, the year the Black Death began to afflict Europe.
ante bellum "before the war" 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" Medical shorthand for "before meals".
ante litteram "before the letter" Said of an expression or term that describes something which existed before the phrase itself was introduced or became common.

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" The period from midnight to noon (cf. post meridiem).
ante mortem "before death" See post mortem ("after death").
ante prandium (a.p.) "before lunch" Used on pharmaceutical prescriptions to denote "before a meal". Less common is post prandium, "after lunch".
apparatus criticus "critical apparatus" Textual notes. A list of other readings relating to a document, especially in a scholarly edition of a text.
aqua (aq.) "water"
aqua fortis "strong water" Refers to nitric acid.
aqua pura "pure water" Or "clear water", "clean water".
aqua regia "royal water" refers to a mixture of hydrochloric acid and nitric acid.
aqua vitae "water of life" "Spirit of Wine" in many English texts. Used to refer to various native distilled beverages, such as whisky in Scotland and Ireland, gin in Holland, brandy (eau de vie) in France, and akvavit in Scandinavia.
aquila non capit muscas "an eagle doesn't catch flies" A noble or important person doesn't deal with insignificant issues.
arare litus "to plough the seashore" From Gerhard Gerhards' (1466-1536) [better known as Erasmus] collection of annotated Adagia (1508). Wasted labour.
arbiter elegantiarum "judge of tastes" One who prescribes, rules on, or is a recognized authority on matters of social behavior and taste. Said of Petronius. Also rendered arbiter elegentiae ("judge of a taste").
arcus senilis "senile bow" An opaque circle around the cornea of the eye, often seen in elderly people.
Argentum album "white money" Also "silver coin". Mentioned in Domesday, signifies bullion, or silver uncoined.
arguendo "for arguing" For the sake of argument. Said when something is done purely in order to discuss a matter or illustrate a point.

Let us assume, arguendo, that your claim is correct.

argumentum "argument" Or "reasoning", "inference", "appeal", "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 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"), and in terrorem ("into terror").
ars celare artem "art [is] to conceal art" An aesthetic ideal that good art should appear natural rather than contrived.
ars gratia artis "art for art's sake" Translated into Latin from Baudelaire's "L'art pour l'art". Motto of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. This phrasing is a direct transliteration of 'art for the sake of art.' While very symmetrical for the MGM logo, the better Latin word order is 'Ars artis gratia.'
ars longa vita brevis "art is long, life is short" The Latin translation by Horace of a phrase from Hippocrates, often used out of context. The "art" referred to in the original aphorism was the craft of medicine, which took a lifetime to acquire.
asinus ad lyram "an ass to the lyre" From Gerhard Gerhards' (1466-1536) [better known as Erasmus] collection of annotated Adagia (1508). An awkward or incompetent individual.
asinus asinum fricat "the jackass rubs the jackass" Used to describe two people lavishing excessive praise on one another.
assecuratus non quaerit lucrum sed agit ne in damno sit "the assured does not seek profit but just indemnity for the loss" Refers to the insurance principle that the indemnity cannot be larger than the loss.
Auctoritas "authority" Referred to the general level of prestige a person had in Ancient Roman society.
audax at fidelis "bold but faithful" Motto of Queensland.
audeamus "let us dare" Motto of Otago University Students' Association, a direct response to the university's motto of sapere aude ("dare to be wise").
audemus jura nostra defendere "we dare to defend our rights" State motto of Alabama, adopted in 1923. Translated into Latin from a paraphrase of the stanza "Men who their duties know / But know their rights, and knowing, dare maintain" from the poem "What Constitutes a State?" by 18th-century author William Jones.
audentes fortuna iuvat "fortune favors the bold" From Virgil, Aeneid X, 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.
audere est facere "to dare is to do" The motto of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club, the famous professional Association Football (soccer) team based in London, England.
audi alteram partem "hear the other side" A legal principle of fairness. Also worded as audiatur et altera pars ("let the other side be heard too").
audio hostem "I hear the enemy" Motto of 845 NACS Royal Navy
aurea mediocritas "golden mean" From Horace's Odes II, 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" From Virgil, Aeneid 3,57. Later quoted by Seneca as "quod non mortalia pectora coges, auri sacra fames": "What aren't you able to bring men to do, miserable hunger for gold!"
auribus teneo lupum "I hold a wolf by the ears" A common ancient proverb, this version from Terence. 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" The Southern Lights, an aurora that appears in the Southern Hemisphere. It is less well-known than the Northern Lights, or aurorea borealis. The Aurora Australis is also the name of an Antarctic icebreaker ship.
aurora borealis "northern dawn" The Northern Lights, an aurora that appears in the Northern Hemisphere.
aut Caesar aut nihil "either Caesar or nothing" Indicates that the only valid possibility is to be emperor, or a similarly prominent position. More generally, "all or nothing". Adopted by Cesare Borgia as a personal motto.
aut concilio aut ense "either by meeting or by the sword" Thus, either through reasoned discussion or through war. A former motto of Chile, post tenebras lux ultimately replaced by Por la Razon o la Fuerza (Spanish) ' by reason or by force '.
aut pax aut bellum "either peace or war" The motto of the Gunn Clan.
Aut viam inveniam aut faciam "I will find a way, or I will make one" Hannibal.
aut vincere aut mori "either to conquer or to die" A general pledge of "victory or death" (cf. victoria aut mors).
ave atque vale "Hail and farewell!" From Catullus, carmen 101, addressed to his deceased brother.
Ave Caesar morituri te salutant "Hail, Caesar! The ones who are about to die salute you!" From Suetonius' Lives of the Twelve Caesars, Claudius 21. The traditional greeting of gladiators prior to battle. morituri is also translated as "we who are about to die" based on the context in which it was spoken, and this translation is sometimes aided by changing the Latin to nos morituri te salutamus. Also rendered with imperator instead of Caesar. A poor translation here could be, "Caesar's birds died from poor health."
ave Europa nostra vera Patria "Hail, Europe, our true Fatherland!" Anthem of Pan-Europeanists.
Ave Maria "Hail, Mary" Derived from "Hail, (Mary) full of grace, the Lord is with thee..." ((NT) Luke 1:28,42). A popular Catholic Church prayer.

B [ edit ]

Latin Translation Notes
barba tenus sapientes "wise as far as the beard" From Gerhard Gerhards' (1466-1536) [better known as Erasmus] collection of annotated Adagia (1508). In appearance wise, but not necessarily so.
Beata Virgo Maria (BVM) "Blessed Virgin Mary" A common name in the Roman Catholic Church for Mary, the mother of Jesus. The genitive, Beatae Mariae Virginis, occurs often as well, appearing with such words as horae ("hours"), litaniae ("litany") and officium ("office").
beatae memoriae "of blessed memory" See in memoriam.
beati pauperes spiritu "Blessed in spirit [are] the poor." Vulgate, Matthew 5:3. The full quote is "beati pauperes spiritu quoniam ipsorum est regnum caelorum" ("Blessed in spirit [are] the poor, for theirs is the kingdom of the heavens" - one of the Beatitudes).
beati possidentes "blessed [are] those who possess" Translated from Euripides.
beatus homo qui invenit sapentiam "blessed is the man who finds wisdom" Motto of Gymnasium Apeldoorn
bella gerant alii "let others wage war" Originally from the Habsburg marriages of 1477 and 1496, written as bella gerant alii tu felix Austria nube ("let others wage war; you, fortunate Austria, marry"). Said by King Matthias
bellum omnium contra omnes "war of all against all" A phrase used by Thomas Hobbes to describe the state of nature.
bis dat qui cito dat "he gives twice, who gives promptly" Thus haste is itself a gift.
bis in die (bid) "twice in a day" Medical shorthand for "twice a day".
bona fide "in good faith" 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 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" A nation's offer to mediate in disputes between two other nations.
bona patria A jury or assize of countrymen, or good neighbors.
bona vacantia "vacant goods" United Kingdom legal term for ownerless property that passes to The Crown.
boni pastoris est tondere pecus non deglubere "It is of a good shepherd to shear his flock, not to flay them." Tiberius reportedly said this to his regional commanders, as a warning against taxing the populace excessively.
bonum commune communitatis "common good of the community" Or "general welfare". Refers to what benefits a society, as opposed to bonum commune hominis, which refers to what is good for an individual.
bonum commune hominis "common good of a man" 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.
busillis Pseudo-Latin meaning "baffling puzzle" or "difficult point". John of Cornwall (ca. 1170) was once asked by a scribe what the word meant. It turns out that the original text said in diebus illis magnis plenæ ("in those days there were plenty of great things"), which the scribe misread as indie busillis magnis plenæ ("in India there were plenty of large busillis").

C [ edit ]

Latin Translation Notes
cacoethes scribendi "bad habit of writing" From Satires of Juvenal. An insatiable urge to write. Hypergraphia
cadavera vero innumera "truly countless bodies" Used by the Romans to describe the aftermath of the Battle of the Catalaunian Fields.
cadent arma togae "Let arms yield to the toga" Refers to allowing statemanship and diplomacy to supersede declaration of war. Arms, (i.e. weapons) are to yield to the toga, a formal garment symbolizing Rome.
caetera desunt "the rest is wanting"
calix meus inebrians "my cup makes me drunk"
camera obscura "dark chamber" An optical device used in drawing, and an ancestor of modern photography. The source of the word camera.
Canes Pugnaces War Dogs or Fighting Dogs
Canis Canem Edit "Dog Eats Dog" Refers to a situation where nobody is safe from anybody, each man for himself.
capax infiniti "capable of the infinite" a pejorative term refering (at least) to some Christian doctrines of the incarnation of the Son of God when it asserts that humanity is capable of housing full divinity within its finite frame. Related to the Docetic heresy and sometimes a counterpoint to the Reformed 'extracalvinisticum.'
caput inter nubila (condit) "head in the clouds" 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)
Caritas Christi "The love of Christ" It implies a command to love as Christ loved. Motto of St. Franicis Xavier High School located in West Meadowlark Park (Edmonton).
carpe diem "seize the day" An exhortation to live for today. From Horace, Odes I, 11.8. By far the most common translation is "seize the day," though carpere normally means something more like "pluck," and the allusion here is to picking flowers. The phrase collige virgo rosas has a similar sense.
carpe noctem "seize the night" 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.
Carthago delenda est "Carthage must be destroyed" From Roman senator Cato the Elder, who ended every speech of his between the second and third Punic Wars with ceterum censeo Carthaginem esse delendam, literally "For the rest, I am of the opinion that Carthage is to be destroyed." Other translations include "In conclusion, I declare that Carthage must be destroyed." and "Furthermore, I move for Carthage to be destroyed."
casus belli "event of war" Refers to an incident that is the justification or case for war.
causa mortis "cause of death"
cave "beware!" 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" Found written on floor mosaics depicting a dog, at the entrance of Roman houses excavated at Pompeii.
cave laborem "beware of work"
caveat emptor "let the buyer beware" The purchaser is responsible for checking whether the goods suit his need.
caveat lector "let the reader beware" Used when the writer does not vouch for the accuracy of a text. Probably a recent alteration of caveat emptor.
caveat subscriptor "let the signer beware" The person signing a document is responsible for reading the information about the what the document entails before entering into an agreement.
caveat venditor "let the seller beware" The person selling goods is responsible for providing information about the goods to the purchaser.
caveat utilitor "let the user beware" The user is responsible for checking whether the goods suit his need.
Cedant arma togae "let arms yield to the gown" "Let military power yield to civilian power," Cicero, De Officiis. See Toga, it:Cedant arma togae
celerius quam asparagi cocuntur "more swiftly than asparagus is cooked" Or simply "faster than cooking asparagus". A variant of the Roman phrase velocius quam asparagi coquantur, using a different adverb and an alternate mood and spelling of coquere.
cepi corpus "I got the body" 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.
certum est quod certum reddi potest "It is certain if it is capable of being 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." A rule of law becomes ineffective when the reason for its application has ceased to exist or does not correspond to the reality anymore.
cetera desunt "the rest are missing" Also spelled "caetera desunt".
ceteris paribus "with other things equal" Idiomatically translated as "all other things being equal". A phrase which rules out outside changes interfering with a situation.
charta pardonationis se defendendo "a paper of pardon to him who defended himself" The form of a pardon for killing another man in self-defence. (see manslaughter)
charta pardonationis utlagariae "a paper of pardon to the outlaw" 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" The motto of Furman University.
Christus Rex "Christ the King" A Christian title for Jesus.
circa (c.) or (ca.) "around" In the sense of "approximately" or "about". Usually used of a date.
circulus vitiosus "vicious circle" 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.
citius altius fortius "faster, higher, stronger" Motto of the modern Olympics.
Clamea admittenda in itinere per atturnatum A writ whereby the king of England could command the justice in eyre to admit one's claim by an attorney, who being employed in the king's service, cannot come in person.
clausum fregit An action of tresspass; 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.
claves Sancti Petri "the keys of Saint Peter" A symbol of the Papacy.
clavis aurea "Golden key" The means of discovering hidden or mysterious meanings in texts, particularly applied in theology and alchemy.
clerico admittendo "about to be made a clerk" 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 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 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 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" The official code of canon law in the Roman Catholic Church (cf. Corpus Iuris Canonici).
Coelum non animum mutant qui trans mare currunt "Those who hurry cross the sea change the sky [upon them], not their souls or state of mind" Hexameter by Horace (Epistulae I, 11 v.27). Seneca shortens it to Animum debes mutare, non caelum ("You must change [your] disposition, not [your] sky") in his Letter to Lucilium XXVIII, 1
cogito ergo sum "I think, therefore I am." A rationalistic argument used by French philosopher René Descartes to attempt to prove his own existence.
coitus interruptus "interrupted congress" 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" An medical euphemism for the doggy-style sexual position.
collige virgo rosas "pick, girl, the roses" "Gather ye rosebuds while ye may", 1909, by John William Waterhouse. Exhortation to enjoy fully the youth, similar to Carpe diem, from De rosis nascentibus (also titled Idyllium de rosis) attributed to Ausonius or Virgil.
communibus annis "in common years" One year with another; on an average. "Common" here does not mean "ordinary," but "common to every situation"
communibus locis "in common places" 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 "generally accepted view"
compos mentis "in control of the mind" 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.
concordia cum veritate "in harmony with truth" Motto of the University of Waterloo.
concordia salus "salvation through harmony" Motto of Montreal. It is also the Bank of Montreal coat of arms and motto.


condemnant quod non intellegunt "They condemn what they do not understand" or "They condemn because they do not understand" (the quod is ambiguous)
condicio sine qua non "condition without which not" A required, indispensable condition. Commonly mistakenly rendered with conditio ("seasoning" or "preserving") in place of condicio("arrangement" or "condition").
confer (cf.) "bring together" Thus, "compare". Used as an abbreviation in text to recommend a comparison with another thing (cf. citation signal).
Confoederatio Helvetica (C.H.) "Helvetian Confederation" The official name of Switzerland, hence the use of "CH" for its ISO country code, ".ch" for its Internet domain, and "CHF" for the ISO three-letter abbreviation of its currency, the Swiss franc.
coniunctis viribus "with connected strength" Or "with united powers". Sometimes rendered conjunctis viribus.
Consuetudo pro lege servatur "Custom is kept before the law" An inconsistently applied maxim. See also consuetudo est altera lex (custom is another law) and consuetudo vincit communem legem (custom overrules the common law)
consummatum est "It is completed." The last words of Jesus on the cross in the Latin translation of John 19:30.
contemptus saeculi "scorn for the times" Despising the secular world. The monk or philosopher's rejection of a mundane life and worldly values.
contra spem spero "hope against hope"
contradictio in terminis "contradiction in terms" A word that makes itself impossible
contraria contrariis curantur "the opposite is cured with the opposite" First formulated by Hippocrates to suggest that the diseases are cured with contrary remedies. Antonym of Similia similibus curantur (the diseases are recovered with similar remedies. )
contra bonos mores "against good morals" Offensive to the conscience and to a sense of justice.
contra legem "against the law"
cor ad cor loquitur "heart speaks to heart" 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 John Henry Cardinal Newman. A motto of Newman Clubs.
cor meum tibi offero domine prompte et sincere "my heart I offer to you Lord promptly and sincerely" motto of Calvin College
cor unum "one heart" 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" 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.
coram populo "in the presence of the people" Thus, openly.
coram nobis, coram vobis "in our presence", "in your presence" Two kinds of writs of error.
Corpus Christi "Body of Christ" 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, and a controversial play.
corpus delicti "body of the offence" 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" The official compilation of canon law in the Roman Catholic Church (cf. Codex Iuris Canonici).
Corpus Iuris Civilis "Body of Civil Law" The body of Roman or civil law.
corpus vile "worthless body" A person or thing fit only to be the object of an experiment.
corrigenda "things to be corrected"
corruptio optimi pessima "the corruption of the best is the worst"
corruptus in extremis "corrupt to the extreme" Motto of the fictional Springfield Mayor Office in The Simpsons TV-Show
Corruptissima re publica plurimae leges "When the republic is at its most corrupt the laws are most n

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