Latin/Appendix E

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This page provides a list of Latin phrases and their English translations.

This page is copied from the Wikipedia article List of Latin phrases. Check that page to see the latest changes to this page.

A[edit | edit source]

A pedibus usque ad caput
"From feet to head."
Ab urbe condita or Anno urbis conditae, abbreviated A.U.C.
"from the founding of the city" (of Rome); 753 B.C., according to Livy's count; used as a reference point by the Romans for establishing dates, as we use A.D. today.
A bene placito
"at your pleasure"
Ad Calendas Graecas
"To the Greek Kalends", i.e. "to a date that does not (or will not) exist" (Emperor Augustus, in Suetonius, in the sense of "never" - Kalends were part of the Roman calendar, not of the Greek, so it is used of a false or unlikely promise)
Ad captandum vulgus
"To appeal to the crowd" -- often used of politicians who make false or insincere promises appealing to popular interest.
Ad hoc
"For a particular purpose (improvised, made up in an instant)"
Ad hominem
"To the man", meaning 1) an argument designed to appeal to personal interest rather than objective fact; 2) an argument criticizing one's opponent rather than his ideas.
Ad interim
"in the meantime", as in the term "chargé d'affaires ad interim" for a diplomatic officer who acts in place of an ambassador
Ad infinitum
"to infinity", going on forever
Ad libitum (ad lib)
"Freely; at ease", just ramble
Ad majorem Dei gloriam
"to the greater glory of God"
Ad multos annos
"To many years!", i.e. "Many happy returns!"
Ad nauseam
"to the point of nausea"
Ad valorem
"by the value", e.g. ad valorem tax
Adde parvum parvo manus acervus erit.
"Add little to little and there will be a big pile." Ovid
Alea iacta est
"The die is cast" (Julius Caesar in Suetonius uses it as an imperative "Alea jacta esto": "Let the die be cast")
Alma mater
"nourishing mother" - used for the university one has attended
Alter ego
"Another self" - usually refers to a pseudonym but can refer to another person.
A mari usque ad mare
"From sea to sea" - motto of Canada
Amicus curiae
'Friend of the court" (adviser), a person who can obtain or grant access to the favour of powerful people (like Romana curia). In current US legal usage, a brief submitted to the court by a third party.
Ante litteram
"before the letter", a qualifier for an expression when applied to something that existed before the expression itself was introduced or became common. For example, one could say that Alan Turing was a computer scientist ante litteram, since the profession of "computer scientist" was not recognised in Turing's day.
Ars gratia artis
"Art for art's sake" (motto of MGM)
Ars longa, vita brevis
"Art is long, life is short". This is the Latin translation by Horace of a phrase from Hippocrates, and 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.
Aurea mediocritas
"Golden Mean" (in Horace, Odi, an ethical goal)
Ave atque vale
"Hail and farewell!"

B[edit | edit source]

Bona fide
"In good faith"

C[edit | edit source]

Cacoethes scribendi
"An insatiable urge to write." From Juvenal
Carpe diem
"Seize the day" (Horace to Leuconoe: carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero, reap the day, believing as little as possible in the morrow)
Casus belli
"an event that causes or justifies war"
Caveat emptor
"Let the buyer beware", i.e. the onus of responsibility is on the purchaser of goods.
Cave canem
"Beware of the dog"
Ceteris paribus :
"All other things being equal"
Christus Rex :
"Christ the King"
"About, approximately, around", e.g. of a date: "Jesus Christ was actually born circa 6 B.C."
Cogito ergo sum
"I think, therefore I am" (René Descartes)
Compos mentis
"Of sound mind" (sometimes used rather humorously)
Conditio sine qua non
"Condition without which not", or "indispensable condition".
Corpus delicti
"body of the crime" - something that proves a crime
Cui bono
"Whom does it benefit?" - a maxim sometimes used in the detection of crime.
Cui prodest
"Whom does it benefit?" (short form for cui prodest scelus, is fecit in Seneca's Medea - the murderer is the one who gains by the murder)
Cum grano salis
"With a grain of salt" (just a bit of wise attention)
Curriculum vitae
"course of life" - a résumé

D[edit | edit source]

Damnant quod non intellegunt
"They condemn what they do not understand."
De facto
"in fact", "in practice"
De gustibus non disputandum est
"there is no disputing matters of taste"
De jure
"by law"
De minimis non curat praetor (or rex or lex)
"The authority" (or "king", or "law") "does not care about trivial things"
De novo
Deus ex machina
"A contrived or artificial solution" (literally, "a god from a machine"). Refers to the practice in Greek drama of letting Zeus resolve awkward plots when a mechanical device would lower an actor playing Zeus onto the stage near the end of a play, as though he were descending from Olympus.)
Deus vult!
"God wills it!" (Slogan of the Crusades)
Divide et impera
"Divide and govern", attributed to Philip II of Macedonia and meaning that if you encourage rivalries and jealousies among your people, you will rule them more easily
Dominus Illuminatio Mea
"The Lord is my light" (the motto of Oxford University).
Dum spiro, spero
"As long as I breathe, I hope" (also "When I die, I hope" - spiro means also 'I breathe the last breath')
Dura lex, sed lex
"The law is harsh, but it is the law"

E[edit | edit source]

E pluribus unum
"From many, one" - the motto of the USA.
Ecce homo
"Behold the man!" -- in the Gospel of John these words are spoken by Pilate as he presents Christ crowned with thorns to the crowd.
"Honorary; by merit"
Esto perpetua
"Let it be everlasting" -- used by the historian Fra Paolo Sarpi of his native Venice.
Et alii
"And others", often written et al. (Alii strictly means "male others", but is also used for groups of men and women; et aliae is used when the "others" are all female.)
Et cetera
"And the other ones", also abbreviated as 'etc.' (nowadays used for "and the rest")
Et in Arcadia ego
"I, also, am in Arcadia" (See memento mori)
Ex animo
"From the heart" (sincerely)
Ex ante
"Before the event, beforehand" (economics: based on prior assumptions)
Ex Cathedra
"From the chair" -- a phrase applied to the Pope when he is speaking infallibly and, by extension, to others who speak with supreme authority or arrogance.
"Ever upward"
Exempli gratia
"For the sake of example", also abbreviated as 'e.g.'
See exit.
Ex hypothesi
"from the hypothesis" (i.e. the one under consideration)
"he / she leaves;" Exeunt omnes: they all leave
Ex libris...
"From the books (library) of..."
Ex nihilo nihil fit
"Nothing comes from nothing" - you need to work for something
Ex officio
"From the office" - when someone holds one position by virtue of holding another, e.g. the U.S. vice president is ex officio president of the Senate
Ex post facto
"After the fact" (also post facto)
Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus
"Outside the Church [there is] No Salvation" -- a phrase of much disputed significance in Roman Catholic theology.

F[edit | edit source]

Fiat justitia (et ruat cælum)
"Let justice be done (though the heavens fall)"
Fidei Defensor
"Defender of the Faith" -- a title given to Henry VIII of England by Pope Leo X before Henry became an heresiarch.
Fons et origo
"The wellspring and origin"

G[edit | edit source]

Genius loci
"the spirit of the place"
Gloria in excelsis Deo
"glory to God in the highest"

H[edit | edit source]

Habeas corpus
"You must have the body", i.e. you must justify an imprisonment. (From the Writ to bring a prisoner to court - Charles II of England, Habeas corpus Act - 1679)
Habemus papam
"We have a pope" - used at the announcement of a new pope (see conclave)
Hic jacet...
"Here lies...." -- written on gravestones or tombs.
Honoris causa (h.c.)
as in "doctorate h.c.", an honorary degree
Horribile dictu
"Horrible to tell"

I[edit | edit source]

Imperium in imperio
"An empire within an empire," i.e. a fifth column, a group of people within an nation's territory who owe allegiance to some other leader.
In absentia
"in the absence" (of a defendant in court)
Infinitus est numerus stultorum
"Infinite is the number of fools" Ecclesiastes 1:15 (Vulgate)
In flagrante delicto
"In flaming crime," i.e. "red-handed" -nowadays used when you are in found in a compromising situation with a sexual partner
In memoriam
"In memory of"
In necessariis unitas, in dubiis libertas, in omnibus caritas
"In necessary things unity, in doubtful things liberty, in all things charity" -- a theological phrase often misattributed to St Augustine.
In situ
"In place"; in the original location and environment.
In toto
"In total" (altogether)
In vino veritas
"Drink brings out the truth" (literally, "in wine, truth")
Incredibile dictu
"Incredible to say"
Ipso facto
"By the fact itself"
Iunctis viribus
"By united efforts"
Ius primae noctis
"Right of the first night" - droit de seigneur

L[edit | edit source]

Labor omnia vincit
"Labor conquers all"
Lapsus calami
"A slip of the pen"
Lapsus linguae
"A slip of the tongue"
Lapsus memoriae
"Memory lapse"
lorem ipsum
A fragment of Latin from Cicero, used as filler by copy editors.

M[edit | edit source]

Magna cum laude
"With great honor"
Magnum opus
"Masterpiece" (great work); also ironically.
Mala fide
"In bad faith" -- aomething which is done fraudulently.
Malum in se
"Wrong in itself" a crime that is inherently wrong, as opposed to malum prohibitum.
Malum prohibitum
"A prohibited wrong" a crime that society decides is wrong for some reason, not inherently evil.
Mea (maxima) culpa
"By my own (very great) fault" -- used in Christian prayers and confession.
Memento mori
"Remember that you will die."
Mirabile dictu
"Wonderful to tell"
Modus operandi
"way of working" - usually used to describe a criminal's methods, often abbreviated M.O.
Modus vivendi
"way of life" - an accommodation between disagreeing parties
Multum in parvo
"Much in little" -- e.g. "Latin phrases are often multum in parvo, because they convey much in few words."
Mutatis mutandis
"The necessary changes having been made."

N[edit | edit source]

Nemo me impune lacessit
"No-one provokes me with impunity" -- a famous Scottish motto.
Nolens (aut) volens
"Willing or not"
Noli me tangere
"Touch me not" -- according to the Gospel of John, this was said by Christ to Mary Magdalene after the Resurrection.
Non compos mentis or Non compos sui
"Of unsound mind"
Non sequitur
Statement that doesn't follow logic (Literally, "It does not follow.")
Non serviam
"I will not serve"
Nosce te ipsum
"Know thyself"
Nota bene
"note it well" - an important note

O[edit | edit source]

Oderint dum metuant
"Let them hate, so long as they fear." Attributed by Seneca to the playwright Lucius Accius, and said to be a favourite saying of Caligula's.
Odi et amo
"I hate (her), and I love (her)." From Catullus
Odium theologicum
"Theological hatred" -- a special name for the hatred generated in theological disputes.
Ora et labora
"Pray and work" - Benedictine motto

P[edit | edit source]

Pacta sunt servanda
"agreements must be honoured"
Parens patriae
"Parent of the country"
Pari passu
"With equal step" - moving together
Parturiunt montes, nascetur ridiculus mus
A line from Horace: "The mountains are in labour, and a ridiculous mouse shall be born" (i.e. much ado about nothing).
pater familias
"father of the family"
Pax tecum
"Peace be with you (singular)"
Pax vobiscum
"Peace be with you (plural)"
Per annum
"Per year"
Per ardua ad astra or Per aspera ad astra
"Through hardship to the stars," motto of the Royal Air Force.
Per caput, per capita
"Per person" (literally, "by head(s)")
Per se
"By or in itself, without referring to anything else, intrinsically", see for instance negligence per se
Perpetuum mobile
something in perpetual motion
Petitio principii
"begging the question"
Post hoc, ergo propter hoc
"After this, therefore because of this" (a fallacy).
Post mortem
"after death"
Primum non nocere
"First, do no harm"
Principiis obsta
"Resist the beginnings"
Pro bono publico
"For the public good" - a lawyer's work is said to be pro bono if he does not charge for it.
Pro rata
"For the rate" (per hour for example)
Pro tempore
"For the time being"
Persona non grata
"Person not wanted"
Pulvis et umbra sumus
"We are dust and shadow" --- from Horace

Q[edit | edit source]

"(You might) ask. . ." Used to introduce questions, usually rhetorical or tangential questions.
Quid pro quo
"A thing for a thing", i.e. a favor for a favor.
Quidnunc? or Quid nunc?
"What now?" As a noun, a quidnunc is a busybody or a gossip.
Quis custodiet ipsos custodies?
A line from Juvenal: "Who will watch the watchmen?"
Quieta non movere
"Don't move settled things", or: "Don't rock the boat."
Quod erat demonstrandum, abbreviated as Q.E.D.
"that which was to be demonstrated." This abbreviation is often written at the bottom of a completed proof.
Quo vadis
"Where are you going?" (according to Christian legend, St. Peter meeting Jesus on the Appian way in Rome asks: "Quo vadis, Domine?", or "Where goest thou, Lord?")

R[edit | edit source]

Rara avis
"A rare bird", i.e. an extraodinary or unusual thing (from Juvenal's Satires: rara avis in terris nigroque simillima cycno, "a rare bird on the earth, and very like a black swan".)
Regnat populus
"Let the People rule"
Requiescat in pace (RIP)
"Rest in peace"
Res ipsa loquitur
"the thing speaks for itself;" a phrase from the common law of torts that refers to situations when it's assumed that a person's injury was caused by the negligent action of another party because the accident was the sort that wouldn't occur unless someone was negligent.

Risus abundat in ore stultorum
"Abundant laughs in the mouth of the foolish" - too much hilarity means foolishness
Rosa rubicundior, lilio candidior, omnibus formosior, semper in te glorior
"Redder than the rose, whiter than the lilies, fairer than everything, I will always glory in thee."

S[edit | edit source]

Salus populi suprema lex esto
"Let the good of the people be the supreme law"
Salva veritate
"With truth preserved"
Sapere aude
"Dare to be wise"
Semper fidelis
"Always faithful"
Semper paratus
"Always prepared"
"Thus", "just so". Used to state that quoted material appears exactly that way in the source, usually despite errors of spelling, grammar, usage, or fact.
Sic semper tyrannis
"Thus always to tyrants" -- Motto of the American state of Virginia and said to have been shouted by John Wilkes Booth after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.
Sic transit gloria mundi
"Thus passes the glory of the world"
SPQR or Senatus Populusque Romanus
"The Senate and the People of Rome" -- "SPQR" was carried on battle standards by the Legions.
Status quo
"Existing state of affairs" (from "statu quo ante", prior or current situation)
Sub iudice (or Sub judice)
"under a judge", i.e. a case that cannot be publicly discussed until it is finished.
Sub poena
"under penalty", i.e. on pain of punishment
Sub rosa
"under the rose," secretly (a rose was placed above a door to indicate that what was said in the room beyond was not to be repeated outside)
sui generis
literally meaning of its own gender/genus
Summa cum laude
"With the highest honor"
Summum bonum
"The supreme good"
Sutor, ne ultra crepidam
"Cobbler, no further than (your competence on) the sandal" -- It is said that Greek painter Apelles was one day painting a warrior but he was uncertain on how to render his sandals (crepida). He asked the advice of a cobbler (sutor), but after a time the cobbler started offering advice on other parts of the painting and was rebuked by Apelles with this phrase (but in Greek).

T[edit | edit source]

Tabula rasa
"A scraped slate" (Romans used to write on wax tablets, easy to erase).
Terra firma
"Solid ground"
Terra incognita
"Unknown land"
Tu autem
"You, also." (See memento mori)

U[edit | edit source]

Ubi mel ibi apes
"Where honey, there bees", i.e., if you want support, you must offer something in return.
Ubi revera or Ubi re vera
"When, in reality..."
Ultima ratio
"last reason" - the last resort
Urbi et orbi
"to the city [Rome] and to the globe" - a blessing of the pope

V[edit | edit source]

Vade mecum
"Come with me." A vade-mecum is an item one carries around, especially a handbook.
Veni, vidi, vici
"I came, I saw, I conquered" (Julius Cesar describing his campaign in De Bello Gallico)
"By way of"
Via media
"Middle path", often used of the Church of England, which was said to be a via media between the errors of Roman Catholicism and extreme Protestantism.
Vice versa
"A reverse of order or meaning"
Vivat, crescat, floreat!
"May he/she/it live, grow, and flourish!"
Vivat Rex!/Vivat Regina!
"Long live the King!/Long live the Queen!"
Volenti non fit iniuria.
"A person who consents does not suffer injustice."

from Wikipedia, the Free encyclopedia.

^ Latin ^