Appendix:List of Latin phrases (F–O)

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Appendix:
*List of Latin phrases
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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:

Contents

A B C D E F G H I J L M N O P Q R S T U V


F[edit]

Latin Translation Notes
fac fortia et patere "do brave deeds and endure" Motto of Prince Alfred College in Adelaide, Australia.
fac simile "make a similar thing" Origin of the word facsimile, and, through it, of fax.
facta, non verba "actions, not words" Motto of United States Navy Destroyer Squadron 22, and the Canadian Fort Garry Horse armoured regiment (Militia).
falsus in unum, falsus in omnibus "false in one thing, false in everything" 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.
felo de se "felon from himself" An 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 "as a rule, men willingly believe that which they wish to" People believe what they wish to be true, even if it isn't. Attributed to Julius Caesar.
festina lente "hurry slowly" An oxymoronic motto of St Augustine. It encourages proceeding quickly, but with calm and caution. Equivalent to 'More haste, less speed'.
fiat iustitia et pereat mundus "let justice be done, even should the world perish" From Ferdinand I.
fiat justitia ruat caelum "let justice be done should the sky fall" Attributed to Lucius Calpurnius Piso Caesoninus.
fiat lux "let light be made" Less literally, "let light arise" or "let there be light" (cf. lux sit). From the Latin translation of Genesis, "dixitque Deus fiat lux et facta est lux" ("and God said, 'Let light be made', and light was made"). The motto of the University of California, Angelo State University, University of Lethbridge and Rollins College.
Fidei Defensor (Fid Def) or (fd) "Defender of the Faith" A title given to Henry VIII of England by Pope Leo X on October 17, 1521 before Henry became a heresiarch. Still used by the British monarchs, it appears on all British coins, usually abbreviated.
fides qua creditur "the faith by which it is believed" the personal faith which apprehends, contrasted with fides quae creditur
fides quae creditur "the faith which is believed" the content of "the faith," contrasted with fides qua creditur
fides quaerens intellectum "faith seeking understanding" the motto of Saint Anselm, found in his Proslogion
fidus Achates "faithful Achates" A faithful friend. From the name of Aeneas's faithful companion in Virgil's Aeneid.
flagellum dei "scourge of god"
flectere si nequeo superos, Achaeronta movebo "If I cannot move heaven I will raise hell" Virgil's Aeneid - Book 7
floruit "one flourished" Indicates the period when a historical figure whose birth and death dates are unknown was most active.
fluctuat nec mergitur "she wavers and is not immersed" Motto of Paris.
fons et origo "the spring and source" "The fountainhead and beginning". The source and origin.
fortes fortuna adiuvat "fortune favours the brave"
fortis est veritas "truth is strong" Motto on the coat of arms of Oxford, England.
fortis et liber "strong and free" Motto of Alberta.

G[edit]

Latin Translation Notes
generalia specialibus non derogant "universal things do not detract from specific things" A principle of legal statutory interpretation: If a matter falls under a specific provision and a general provision, it shall be governed by the specific provision.
genius loci "spirit of place" 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 Heights" 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 Patri "Glory to the Father" The beginning of the Lesser Doxology.
gloriosus et liber "glorious and free" Motto of Manitoba
Gradibus ascendimus "Ascending by degrees" Motto of Grey College, Durham
graviora manent "heavier things remain" In other words, "more severe things await" or simply "the worst is yet to come".
gutta cavat lapidem non vi sed saepe cadendo "a drop hollows a stone not by force, but by often falling" From Ovid, Epistulae ex Ponto IV, 10, 5.

H[edit]

Latin Translation Notes
habeas corpus "you may have the body" 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 subjiciendum ("you may have the body to bring up"). Commonly used as the general term for a prisoner's legal right to have the charge against them specifically identified.
habemus papam "we have a pope" Used after a Roman Catholic Church papal election to announce publicly a successful ballot to elect a new pope.
hac lege "with this law"
haec olim meminisse iuvabit "one day, this will be pleasing to remember" Commonly rendered in English as "One day, we'll look back on this and smile". From Virgil's Aeneid 1.203.
Hannibal ante portas "Hannibal before the gates" Refers to wasting time while the enemy is already here. Attributed to Cicero.
Hannibal ad portas "Hannibal is at the gates" Roman parents would tell their misbehaving children this, invoking their fear of Hannibal.
haud ignota loquor "I speak not of unknown things" Thus, "I say no things that are unknown". From Virgil's Aeneid, 2.91.
hic abundant leones "here lions abound" Written on uncharted territories of old maps.
hic et nunc "here and now"
hic jacet (HJ) "here lies" 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 manebimus optime "here we'll stay excellently" According to Titus Livius the phrase was pronounced by Marcus Furius Camillus, addressing the senators who intended to abandon the city, invaded by Gauls, in 390 BCE circa. It is used today to express the intent to keep one's position even if the circumstances appear adverse.
hic sunt leones "here there are lions" Written on uncharted territories of old maps.
hinc illae lacrimae "hence those tears" From Terence, Andria, line 125. Originally literal, referring to the tears shed by Pamphilus at the funeral of Chrysis, it came to be used proverbally in the works of later authors, such as Horace (Epistula XIX, 41).
historia vitae magistra "history, the teacher of life" From Cicero, Tusculanas, 2, 16. Also "history is the mistress of life".
homo homini lupus "man [is a] wolf to man" First attested in Plautus' Asinaria ("lupus est homo homini"). The sentence was drawn on by Hobbes in Leviathan as a concise expression of his human nature view.
homo sum humani a mi nihil alienum puto "I am a human being; nothing human is strange to me" From Terence, Heautontimoroumenos. 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 (timeo) "(I fear) a man of one book" Attributed to Thomas Aquinas
honeste vivere "to live virtuously" One of Justinian I's three basic legal precepts.
honor virtutis praemium "esteem is the reward of virtue" O'Flynn family motto.
honoris causa "for the sake of honor" Said of an honorary title, such as "Doctor of Science honoris causa".
hora somni (h.s.) "at the hour of sleep" Medical shorthand for "at bedtime".
horas non numero nisi serenas "I do not count the hours unless they are sunny" A common inscription on sundials.
hortus in urbe "A garden in the city" Motto of the Chicago Park District, a playful allusion to the city's motto, urbs in horto, q.v.
horribile dictu "horrible to say" That is, "a horrible thing to relate". A pun on mirabile dictu.
hostis humani generis "enemy of the human race" Cicero defined pirates in Roman law as being enemies of humanity in general.
hypotheses non fingo "I do not fabricate hypotheses" From Newton, Principia. Less literally, "I do not assert that any hypotheses are true".

I[edit]

Latin Translation Notes
ibidem (ibid.) "in the same place" Usually used in bibliographic citations to refer to the last source previously referenced.
id est (i.e.) "that is" "That is (to say)", "in other words", or sometimes "in this case", depending on the context. Never equivalent to exempli gratia (e.g.).

Id est, i.e., "that is", is commonly abbreviated "i.e."; in this usage it is sometimes followed by a comma, depending on style.

idem (id.) "the same" Used to refer to something that has already been cited. See also ibidem.
idem quod (i.q.) "the same as" Not to be confused with an intelligence quotient.
i.e. "that is" Abbreviation for id est, above.
Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum (INRI) "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews" Based on a Christian belief that "this one is King of the Jews" was written in Latin, Greek and Aramaic at the top of the cross Jesus was crucified on.
igne natura renovatur integra "through fire, nature is reborn whole" An alchemical aphorism invented as an alternate meaning for the acronym INRI.
igni ferroque "with fire and iron" A phrase describing scorched earth tactics. Also rendered as igne atque ferro, ferro ignique, and other variations.
ignis fatuus "foolish fire" will o' the wisp.
ignoratio elenchi "ignorance of the issue" 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" An explanation that is less clear than the thing to be explained. Synonymous with obscurum per obscurius.
ignotus (ign.) "unknown"
Illegitimi non carborundum "Don't let the bastards grind you down" Mock Latin originating during World War II, used and known in many forms since then.
imago Dei "image of God" From the religious concept that man was created in "God's image".
imitatio dei "imitation of a god" A principle, held by several religions, that believers should strive to resemble their god(s).
imperium in imperio "an order within an order" 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).
2. A "fifth column" organization operating against the organization within which they seemingly reside.
imperium sine fine "an empire without an end" In Virgil's Aeneid, Jupiter ordered Aeneas to found a city (Rome) from which would come an everlasting, neverending empire, the endless (sine fine) empire.
imprimatur "let it be printed" An authorization to publish, granted by some censoring authority (originally a Catholic Bishop).
in absentia "in the absence" Used in a number of situations, such as in a trial carried out in the absence of the accused.
in actu "in act" "In the very act/In reality".
in articulo mortis "at the point of death"
in camera "in the chamber" Figuratively, "in secret". See also camera obscura.
in casu "in the event" "In this case".
in cauda venenum "the poison is in the tail" 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 speaker's eyes.
in concreto "in the concrete (sense)" Usually as opposed to figurative or metaphysical usage.
in Deo speramus "in God we hope" Motto of Brown University.
in dubio pro reo "in doubt, on behalf of the [alleged] culprit" 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" "In duplicate".
in effigie "in the likeness" "In (the form of) an image", as opposed to "in the flesh" or "in person".
in esse "in existence"
in extenso "in the extended" "In full", "at full length", "completely", "unabridged".
in extremis "in the furthest reaches" In extremity; in dire straits. Also "at the point of death" (cf. in articulo mortis).
in fidem "into faith" To the verification of faith.
in fieri "in becoming" Thus, "pending".
in fine (i.f.) "in the end" 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" Equivalent to the English idiom "caught red-handed": caught in the act of committing a crime. Sometimes carried the connotation of being caught in a "compromising position".
in flore "in blossom" Blooming.
in foro "in forum" Legal term for "in court".
in girum imus nocte et consumimur igni "We enter the circle at night and are consumed by fire" A palindrome said to describe the behavior of moths. Also the title of a film by Guy Debord.
in hoc signo vinces "by this sign you will conquer" Words Constantine claimed to have seen in a vision before the Battle of Milvian Bridge.
in illo tempore "in that time" "at that time", found often in Gospel lectures during Masses, used to mark an undetermined time in the past.
in limine "at the outset" Preliminary, in law referring to 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" That is, "at the place".

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" A legal term meaning "assuming parental (i.e., custodial) responsibility and authority".
in luce Tua videmus lucem "in Thy light we see light" Motto of Valparaiso University.
in lumine tuo videbimus lumen "in your light we will see the light" Motto of Columbia University and Ohio Wesleyan University.
in manus tuas commendo spiritum meum "into your hands I entrust my spirit" According to Luke 23:46, the last words of Jesus on the cross.
in medias res "into the middle of things" 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, and Paradise Lost. Compare ab initio.
in memoriam "into the memory" Equivalent to "in the memory of". Refers to remembering or honoring a deceased person.
in necessariis unitas, in dubiis libertas, in omnibus caritas "in necessary things unity, in doubtful things liberty, in all things charity" "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.
in nuce "in a nut" I.e. "in potentiality." Comparable to "potential", "to be developed".
In omnia paratus "Ready for anything." Motto of the so-called secret society of Yale in the sitcom Gilmore Girls.
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" Quote by Thomas a Kempis.
in partibus infidelium "in the parts of the infidels" That is, "in the land of the infidels", infidels here referring to non-Christians. After Islam conquered a large part of the Roman Empire, the corresponding bishoprics didn't disappear, but remained as titular sees.
in pectore "in the heart" A Cardinal named in secret by the pope. See also ab imo pectore.
in personam "into a person" "Directed towards a particular person". In a lawsuit in which the case is against a specific individual, that person must be served with a summons and complaint to give the court jurisdiction to try the case. The court's judgment applies to that person and is called an "in personam judgment." In personam is distinguished from in rem, which applies to property or "all the world" instead of a specific person. This technical distinction is important to determine where to file a lawsuit and how to serve a defendant. In personam means that a judgment can be enforceable against the person, wherever he or she is. On the other hand, if the lawsuit is to determine title to property (in rem), then the action must be filed where the property exists and is only enforceable there.
in propria persona "in one's own person" "Personally", "in person".
in rerum natura "in the nature of things" See also Lucretius' De Rerum Natura ("On the Nature of Things").
in saeculo "in the times" "In the secular world", that is, outside a monastery, or before death.
in salvo "in safety"
in silico "in silicon" Coined in the early 1990s for scientific papers. Refers to an experiment or process performed virtually, as a computer simulation. The term is Dog Latin modeled after terms such as in vitro and in vivo. The Latin word for silicon is silicium, so the correct Latinization of "in silicon" would be in silicio, but this form has little usage.
in situ "in the place" In the original place, appropriate position, or natural arrangement. In medical contexts, it implies that the condition is still in the same place and has not worsened, improved, spread, etc.
In spe "in hope" "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" That is, to understand the most general rules through the most detailed analysis.
in statu nascendi "in the state of being born" Just as something is about to begin.
in toto "in all" "Totally", "entirely", "completely".
in triplo "in triple" "In triplicate".
in utero "in the womb"
in vacuo "in a void" "In a vacuum". In isolation from other things.
in vino veritas "in wine [there is] truth" That is, wine loosens the tongue.

(Referring to alcohol's disinhibitory effects.)

in vitro "in glass" 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. The reference to glass is merely an historic one, as the current usage of this term is not specific to the materials involved, but rather to the "non-natural" setting employed. Alternative experimental or process methodologies would include in vitro, in silico, ex vivo and in vivo.

In vitro fertilization is not literally done "in glass", but rather is a technique to fertilize egg cells outside of a woman's body. By definition, it is thus an ex vivo process.

in vivo "in life" or "in a living thing" An experiment or process performed on a living specimen.
incredibile dictu "incredible to say" A variant on mirabile dictu.
Index Librorum Prohibitorum "Index of Forbidden Books" A list of books considered heretical by the Roman Catholic Church.
indivisibiliter ac inseparabiliter "indivisible and inseparable" Motto of Austria-Hungary prior to its separation into independent states in 1918.
infra dignitatem (infra dig) "beneath one's dignity"
instante mense (inst.) "in the present month" Formerly used in formal correspondence to refer to the current month. Sometimes abbreviated as instant. Used with ult. ("last month") and prox. ("next month").

"Thank you for your letter of the 17th inst."

integer vitae scelerisque purus "unimpaired by life and clean of wickedness" From Horace. Used as a funeral hymn.
inter alia "among other things"
inter alios "among others" Often used to compress lists of parties to legal documents.
inter arma enim silent leges "In the face of arms, the law falls mute," more popularly rendered as "during warfare, in fact, the laws are silent" 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. Also used in the Star Trek DS9 episode of the same name to justify Admiral William Ross' decision to assist Agent Sloan from Section 31 in destabilizing the Romulan Senate.
inter caetera "among others" Title of a papal bull.
inter spem et metum "between hope and fear"
inter vivos "between the living" Said of property transfers between living persons, as opposed to inheritance; often relevant to tax laws.
intra muros "within the walls" Thus, "not public". Source of the word intramural. See also Intramuros.
intra vires "within the powers" That is, "within the authority".
ipsa scientia potestas est "knowledge itself is power" Famous phrase written by Sir Francis Bacon in 1597.
ipse dixit "he himself said it" From Greek Αυτος εφη
Commonly said in Medieval debates referring to Aristotle, who was considered the supreme authority on matters of philosophy. Used in general to emphasize that some assertion comes from some authority, i.e., as an appeal to authority, and the term ipsedixitism has come to mean any unsupported rhetorical assertion that lacks a logical argument.
ipsissima verba "the very words themselves" "Strictly word for word" (cf. verbatim).
ipso facto "by the fact itself" Or "by that very fact".
Ira Deorum "Wrath of the Gods" 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.
ita vero "thus indeed" A useful phrase, as the Romans had no word for "yes", preferring to respond to questions with the affirmative or negative of the question (i.e., "Are you hungry?" was answered by "I am hungry" or "I am not hungry", not "Yes" or "No").
ite missa est "go, the things have been sent" The final words of the Roman Missal, meaning "leave, the mass is finished".
iura novit curia "the court knows the laws" A legal principle in civil law countries of the Roman-German tradition (e.g., in Brazil,Germany and Italy) 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").

J[edit]

Latin Translation Notes
juris ignorantia est cum jus nostrum ignoramus "it is ignorance of the law when we do not know our own rights"
Johannes est nomen ejus "John is its name / Juan es su Nombre" Motto of the Seal of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico
jus ad bellum "law towards war" Refers to the "laws" that regulate the reasons for going to war. Typically, this would address issues of self-defense or preemptive strikes
jus in bello "law in war" 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.
jus primae noctis "law of the first night" The droit de seigneur.
justitia omnibus "justice for all" Motto of the District of Columbia.

L[edit]

Latin Translation Notes
Labor omnia vincit "Work conquers all things" State motto of Oklahoma. Motto of Instituto Nacional, leading Chilean high school. Derived from a phrase in Virgil's Georgics.
lapsus linguae "slip of the tongue" A "proglossis", "tip of the tongue" or "apex of the tongue". Often used to mean "linguistic error" or "language mistake". It and its written-word variant, lapsus calami ("slip of the pen") can sometimes refers to a typographical error as well.

Ex.: "I'm sorry for mispronouncing your name. It wasn't intentional; it was a lapsus linguae".

lapsus memoriae "slip of memory" Source of the term memory lapse.
laus Deo "praise be to God"
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" From Horace's Odes: the official motto of the University of Pennsylvania.
legitime "lawfully" A legal term describing a "forced share", the portion of a deceased person's estate from which the immediate family cannot be disinherited. From the French héritier legitime ("rightful heir").
lex artis "law of the skill" The rules that regulate a professional duty.
lex ferenda "the law that should be borne" The law as it ought to be.
lex lata "the law that has been borne" The law as it is.
lex loci "law of the place"
lex non scripta "law that has not been written" Unwritten law, or common law.
lex parsimoniae "law of succinctness also known as Ockhams Razor.
lex rex "the law [is] king" 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" Statute law. Contrasted with lex non scripta.
lex talionis "the law of retaliation" Retributive justice (cf. an eye for an eye).
liberate me ex infernis "free me from hell" Used in a Hellsystem album cover from 2005.
libera te tutemet "you, free yourself" Used in Event Horizon (1997), where it is translated as "save yourself". It is initially misheard as liberate me ("free me"), but is later corrected. Libera te is often mistakenly merged into liberate, which would necessitate a plural pronoun instead of the singular tutemet (which is an emphatic form of tu, "you").
libertas quæ sera tamen "freedom which [is] however late" Thus, "liberty even when it comes late". Motto of Minas Gerais, Brazil.
libra (lb) "scales" Literally "balance". Its abbreviation, lb, is used as a unit of weight, the pound.
loco citato (lc) "in the place cited" More fully written in loco citato. See also opere citato.
locus classicus "a classic place" A quotation from a classical text used as an example of something.
lorem ipsum 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). An approximate literal translation of lorem ipsum might be "sorrow itself", as the term is from dolorum ipsum quia, meaning "sorrow because of itself", or less literally, "pain for its own sake".
luctor et emergo "I struggle and emerge" Motto of the Dutch province of Zeeland to denote its battle against the sea.
lucus a non lucendo "[it is] a grove by not being light" 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.
lupus in fabula "the wolf in the story" With the meaning "speak of the wolf, and he will come". Occurs in Terence's play Adelphoe.
lupus non mordet lupum "a wolf does not bite a wolf"
lux et lex "light and law" Motto of the prestigious liberal arts school, Franklin & Marshall College. Light in reference to Benjamin Franklin's many innovations and discoveries. Law in reference to John Marshall as one of the most notable Supreme Court Justices.
lux et veritas "light and truth" A translation of the Hebrew Urim and Thummim. Motto of Yale University and Indiana University. An expanded form, lux et veritas floreant ("let light and truth flourish"), is the motto of the University of Winnipeg
lux hominum vita "life the light of men"
lux sit "let there be light" A more literal Latinization of the phrase "let there be light", the most common translation of fiat lux ("let light arise", literally "let light be made"), which in turn is the Latin Vulgate Bible phrase chosen for the Genesis line "ג וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹהִים, יְהִי אוֹר; וַיְהִי-אוֹר" ("And God said: 'Let there be light.' And there was light"). Motto of the University of Washington.

M[edit]

Latin Translation Notes
magister dixit "the master has said it" Canonical medieval reference to Aristotle, precluding further discussion
Magna Carta "Great Paper" A set of documents between Pope Innocent III, King John, and English barons.
magna cum laude "with great praise" A common Latin honor, above cum laude and below summa cum laude.
Magna Europa est Patria Nostra "Great Europe is Our Fatherland" Political motto of pan-Europeanists (cf. ave Europa nostra vera Patria)
magna est vis consuetudinis "great is the power of habit"
magno cum gaudio "with great joy"
magnum opus "great work" Said of someone's masterpiece.
maiora premunt "greater things are pressing" Used to indicate that it is the moment to address more important, urgent, issues.
mala fide "in bad faith" 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" Also used ironically, e.g.: New teachers know all tricks used by pupils to copy from classmates? Oh, mala tempora currunt!.
malum discordiae "apple of dischord" 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 a vowel in Latin and the word for "evil" a short a vowel, but they are normally written the same.
malum quo communius eo peius "the more common an evil is, the worse it is"
malum in se "wrong in itself" A legal term meaning that something is inherently wrong (cf. malum prohibitum).
malum prohibitum "wrong due to being prohibited" A legal term meaning that something is only wrong because it is against the law.
manu militari "with a military hand" Using armed forces in order to achieve a goal.
manu propria (m.p.) "with one's own hand" 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 celer Dei "the swift hand of God" Originally used as the name of a ship in the Marathon game series, its usage has spread.
manus manum lavat "one hand washes the other" famous quote from Lucius Annaeus Seneca . It implies that one situation helps the other.
mare clausum "closed sea" In law, a sea under the jurisdiction of one nation and closed to all others.
mare liberum "free sea" In law, a sea open to international shipping navigation.
mare nostrum "our sea" A nickname given to the Mediterranean Sea during the height of the Roman Empire, as it encompassed the entire coastal basin.
Mater Facit "Mother Does It" Used as a joke to say Mother Fuck It, though it really means "mother does it"
materfamilias "the mother of the family" The female head of a family. See paterfamilias.
materia medica "medical matter" The branch of medical science concerned with the study of drugs used in the treatment of disease. Also, the drugs themselves.
me vexat pede "it annoys me at the foot" 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.
Mea Culpa "My Fault" Used in Christian prayers and confession to denote the inherently flawed nature of mankind. Can also be extended to mea maxima culpa ("my greatest fault"). Also used similarly to the modern English slang "my bad".
Media vita in morte sumus "In the midst of our lives we die" 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.
meliora "better things" Carrying the connotation of "always better". The motto of the University of Rochester.
Melita, domi adsum "Honey, I'm home!" 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" Figuratively "be mindful of dying" or "remember your mortality", and also more literally rendered as "remember to die", though in English this ironically misses the original intent. An object (such as a skull) or phrase intended to remind people of the inevitability of death. A more common theme in Christian than in Classical art. The motto of the Trappist order.
memento vivere "a reminder of life" Also, "remember that you have to live." Literally rendered as "remember to live."
memores acti prudentes futuri "mindful of what has been done, aware of what will be" Thus, both remembering the past and foreseeing the future. From the North Hertfordshire District Council coat of arms.
mens agitat molem "the mind moves the mass" From Virgil. Motto of the University of Oregon, the University of Warwick and the Eindhoven University of Technology.
mens et manus "mind and hand" Motto of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
mens rea "guilty mind" 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" Or "a sensible mind in a healthy body".
meminerunt omnia amantes "lovers remember all"
Miles Gloriosus "Glorious Soldier" Or "Boastful Soldier". 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. Or perhaps some scholar got the better of the dictator!)
minatur innocentibus qui parcit nocentibus "he threatens the innocent who spares the guilty"
mirabile dictu "wonderful to tell"
mirabile visu "wonderful by the sight" A Roman phrase used to describe a wonderful event/happening.
miserabile visu "terrible by the sight" A terrible happening or event.
miserere nobis "have mercy upon us" A phrase within the Gloria in Excelsis Deo and the Agnus Dei, to be used at certain points in Christian religious ceremonies.
missit me Dominus "the Lord has sent me" A phrase used by Christ.


mittimus "we send" 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" The motto of the Nautilus from the Jules Verne novel 20000 Leagues Under the Sea.
modus operandi (M.O.) "method of operating" Usually used to describe a criminal's methods.
modus ponens "method of placing" Loosely "method of affirming", a logical rule of inference stating that from propositions P and if P then Q one can conclude Q.
modus tollens "method of removing" Loosely "method of denying", a logical rule of inference saying that from propositions not Q and if P then Q one can conclude not P.
modus morons Dog Latin based on wordplay with modus ponens and modus tollens, referring to the common logical fallacy that if P then Q and not P, one could conclude not Q (cf. contraposition).
modus vivendi "method of living" An accommodation between disagreeing parties to allow life to go on. A practical compromise.
montani semper liberi "mountaineers [are] always free" State motto of West Virginia, adopted in 1872.
Montis Insignia Calpe "Badge of the Rock of Gibraltar"
more ferarum "like beasts" used to describe any sexual act in the manner of beasts
morituri te salutant "those who are about to die salute thee" Used once in Suetonius' Life of the Divine Claudius, chapter 21, by the condemned prisoners manning galleys about to take part in a mock naval battle on Lake Fucinus in AD 52. Popular misconception ascribes it as a gladiator's salute.
mors vincit omnia "death conquers all" or "death always wins" An axiom often found on headstones.
motu proprio "on his own initiative" Or "by his own accord." Identifies a class of papal documents, administrative papal bulls.
multis e gentibus vires "from many peoples, strength" Motto of Saskatchewan.
multum in parvo "much in little" Conciseness. The motto of Rutland, a county in central England.

Latin phrases are often multum in parvo, conveying much in few words.

mundus vult decipi "the world wants to be deceived" From James Branch Cabell.
munit haec et altera vincit "this one defends and the other one conquers" Motto of Nova Scotia.
mutatis mutandis "with those things changed which needed to be changed" Thus, "with the appropriate changes".

N[edit]

Latin Translation Notes
natura non contristatur "nature is not saddened" That is, the natural world is not sentimental or compassionate.
natura non facit saltum ita nec lex "nature does not make a leap, thus neither does the law" 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.
navigare necesse est vivere non est necesse "to sail is necessary; to live is not necessary" Attributed by Plutarch to Gnaeus Pompeius, who, during a severe storm, commanded sailors to bring food from Africa to Rome.
ne cede malis "do not give in to misfortune" Used as a level name in the Marathon series to reflect the doomed theme of the level, and derived from the family motto of one of the developers.
ne sutor ultra crepidam "Cobbler, no further than the sandal!" 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.
nec dextrorsum, nec sinistrorsum "Neither to the left nor to the right" Do not get distracted. This Latin phrase is also the motto for Bishop Cotton Boys School and the Bishop Cotton Girls High school, both located in Bangalore, India.
nec plus ultra "nothing more beyond" Also ne 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. Charles V's heraldic emblem reversed this idea, using a depiction of this phrase inscribed on the Pillars—as plus ultra, without the negation. This represented Spain's expansion into the New World.
nec temere nec timide "neither reckless nor timid" The motto of the Dutch 11th air manouvre brigade 11 Air Manoeuvre Brigade
nemine contradicente (nem. con.) "with no one speaking against" Less literally, "without dissent". Used especially in committees, where a matter may be passed nem. con., or unanimously.
nemo dat quod non habet "no one gives what he does not have" Thus, "none can pass better title than they have".
nemo iudex in sua causa "no man shall be a judge in his own cause" Legal principle that no individual can preside over a hearing in which he holds a specific interest or bias.
nemo me impune lacessit "no one provokes me with impunity" Motto of the Order of the Thistle, and consequently of Scotland, found stamped on the milled edge of certain British pound sterling coins. It is also the motto of the Montressors in the Edgar Allan Poe short story "The Cask of Amontillado"
nemo nisi per amicitiam cognoscitur "No one learns except by friendship" Used to imply that one must like a subject in order to study it.
nemo tenetur seipsum accusare "no one is bound to accuse himself" 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 seipsum ("no one is bound to betray himself"), meaning that a defendant is not obligated to testify against himself.
nihil dicit "he says nothing" In law, a declination by a defendant to answer charges or put in a plea.
nihil novi "nothing of the new" 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" 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"
nil desperandum "nothing must be despaired at" That is, "never despair".
nil nisi bonum "(about the dead say) nothing unless (it is) good" Short for nil nisi bonum de mortuis dicere. That is, "Don't speak ill of anyone who has died".
nil nisi malis terrori "no terror, except to the bad" The motto of King's School, Macclesfield.
nil per os (n.p.o.) "nothing through the mouth" Medical shorthand indicating that oral foods and fluids should be withheld from the patient.
nil satis nisi optimum "nothing [is] enough unless [it is] the best" Motto of Everton Football Club, residents of Goodison Park, Liverpool.
nil sine numine "nothing without the divine will" 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 devum eveniunt" ("these things do not come to pass without the will of the gods"). See also numina.
nil volentibus arduum "Nothing [is] arduous for the willing" "Nothing is impossible for the willing"
nisi Dominus frustra "if not the Lord, [it is] in vain" That is, "everything is in vain without God". Summarized from Psalm 127, "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"). The motto of Edinburgh.
nisi prius "unless previously" 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.
nolens volens "unwilling, willing" That is, "whether unwillingly or willingly". Sometimes rendered volens nolens or aut nolens aut volens. 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" 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!" 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. The soldier was executed for his act.
nolle prosequi "to be unwilling to prosecute" 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" 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 dubium "doubtful name" A scientific name of unknown or doubtful application.
nomen est omen "the name is a sign" Thus, "true to its name".
nomen nescio (N.N.) "I do not know the name" Thus, the name or person in question is unknown.
nomen nudum "naked name" A purported scientific name that does not fulfill the proper formal criteria and therefore cannot be used unless it is subsequently proposed correctly.
non bis in idem "not twice in the same thing" A legal principle forbidding double jeopardy.
non causa pro causa "not the cause for the cause" 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" 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 ducor duco "I am not led; I lead" Motto of São Paulo city, Brazil. See also pro Brasilia fiant eximia.
non facias malum ut inde fiat bonum "you should not make evil in order that good may be made from it" More simply, "don't do wrong to do right". The direct opposite of the phrase "the ends justify the means".
non impediti ratione congitatonis "unencumbered by the thought process" Motto of radio show Car Talk.
non in legendo sed in intelligendo legis consistunt "the laws depend not on being read, but on being understood"
non liquet "it is not proven" 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 mihi solum "not for myself alone"
non obstante veredicto "not standing in the way of a verdict" 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 "it doesn't smell" See pecunia non olet.
non omnis moriar "I shall not all die" "Not all of me will die", a phrase expressing the belief that a part of the speaker will survive beyond death.
non progredi est regredi "to not go forward is to go backward"
non prosequitur "he does not proceed" 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 discimus "We learn not for school, but for life." from Seneca
non sequitur "it does not follow" In general, a non sequitur is 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 non sequitur is a conclusion that does not follow from a premise.
non serviam "I will not serve" 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 sum qualis eram "I am not such as I was" Or "I am not the kind of person I once was". Expresses a change in the speaker.


non vi, sed verbo "Not through violence, but through the word alone Martin Luther on Catholic church reform. (see Reformation)
nosce te ipsum "know thyself" From Cicero, based on the Greek γνῶθι σεαυτόν (gnothi seauton), inscribed on the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. A non-traditional Latin rendering, temet nosce ("thine own self know"), is translated in The Matrix as "know thyself".
nota bene (n.b.) "mark well" That is, "please note" or "note it well".
Novus Ordo Seclorum "New Order of the Ages" 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." Pliny the Elder attributes this maxim to Apelles, an ancient Greek artist.
nullam rem natam "no thing born" 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.
nulli secundus "second to none" Motto of the Coldstream Guards.
Nullius in verba "On the word of no man" Motto of the Royal Society.
nullum crimen, nulla poena sine lege "no crime, no punishment without law" Legal principle meaning that one cannot be penalised for doing something that is not prohibited by law. It also means that penal law cannot be enacted retroactively.
numerus clausus "closed number" A method to limit the number of students who may study at a university.
nunc dimittis "now you are sending away" In the Gospel of Luke, spoken by Simeon while holding the baby Jesus when he felt he was ready to be dismissed into the afterlife ("he had seen the light"). Often used in the same way the phrase Eureka is used, as a jubilant exclamation of revelation.
nunc est bibendum "now is the time to drink" 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" Something that has retroactive effect, is effective from an earlier date.
nunc scio quid sit amor "now I know what love is" From Virgil, Eclogues VIII.
nunquam non paratus "never unprepared" Motto of the Scottish clan Johnston

O[edit]

Latin Translation Notes
O homines ad servitutem paratos "Men fit to be slaves!" Attributed (in Tacitus, Annales, III, 65) to the Emperor Tiberius, in disgust at the servile attitude of Roman senators. Used of those who should be leaders but instead slavishly follow the lead of others.
O tempora O mores "O, the times! O, the morals!" Also translated "What times! What customs!" From Cicero, Catilina I, 1, 2.
obiit (ob.) "one died" "He died" or "she died", an 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" Arthur Schopenhauer.
obiter dictum "a thing said in passing" 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.
obscuris vera involvens "the truth being enveloped by obscure things" From Virgil.
obscurum per obscurius "the obscure by means of the more obscure" An explanation that is less clear than what it tries to explain. Synonymous with ignotum per ignotius.
oculus dexter (O.D.) "right eye" Ophthalmologist shorthand.
oculus sinister (O.S.) "left eye" Ophthalmologist shorthand.
oderint dum metuant "let them hate, so long as they fear" Favorite saying of Caligula, attributed originally to Lucius Accius, Roman tragic poet (170 BC).
odi et amo "I hate and I love" The 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 and am tormented.").
odi profanum vulgus et arceo "I hate the unholy rabble and keep them away" From Horace.
odium theologicum "theological hatred" A name for the special hatred generated in theological disputes.
omne ignotum pro magnifico "every unknown thing [is taken] for great" Or "everything unknown appears magnificent".
omnia dicta fortiora si dicta Latina "everything said [is] stronger if said in Latin" Or "everything sounds more impressive when said in Latin". A more common phrase with the same meaning is quidquid Latine dictum sit altum videtur.
omnia munda mundis "everything [is] pure to the pure [men]" 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" In other words, "innocent until proven guilty".
omnium gatherum "gathering of all" A miscellaneous collection or assortment. Often used facetiously.


onus probandi "burden of proof"
opera omnia "all works" The collected works of an author.
opera posthuma "posthumous works" Works published after the author's death.
opere citato (op. cit.) "in the work that was cited" Used in academic works when referring again to the last source mentioned or used.
ophidia in herba "a snake in the grass" Any hidden danger or unknown risk.
opus anglicanum "English work" Fine embroidery. Especially used to describe church vestments.
Opus Dei "The Work of God" Opus Dei is a Catholic institution founded by Saint Josemaría Escrivá. Its mission is to help people turn their work and daily activities into occasions for growing closer to God, for serving others, and for improving society.
ora et labora "pray and work" The Motto of Order of Saint Benedict as well as the motto for [1]Dalhousie Law School, Halifax Nova Scotia.
ora pro nobis "pray for us"
oratio directa "direct speech"
oratio obliqua "indirect speech"
orbis non sufficit "the world does not suffice"
"the world is not enough"
Originates from Juvenal's Tenth Satire, 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.
ordo ab chao "Out of chaos, comes order" The phrase is one of the oldest mottos of Craft Freemasonry.
orta recens quam pura nites "newly risen, how brightly you shine" Motto of New South Wales.


Notes[edit]

  1. ^  Exempli gratia (e.g.) and id est (i.e.) are commonly confused and misused in colloquial English. The former, exempli gratia, means "for example", and is used before giving examples of something ("I have lots of favorite colors, e.g., blue, green, and hot pink"). The latter, id est, means "that is", and is used before clarifying the meaning of something, when elaborating, specifying, or explaining rather than when giving examples ("I have lots of favorite colors, i.e., I can't decide on just one").
  2. ^ American style guides tend to recommend that "e.g." and "i.e." should generally be followed by a comma, just as "for example" and "that is" would be; UK style tends to omit the comma. See Dictionary.com or LEO forum discussion for more information. Google for "comma after i.e." for other links.