Appendix:List of Latin phrases (P–Z)

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*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:




Latin Translation Notes
pace "with peace" Loosely, "be at peace", "with due deference to", "by leave of" or "no offense to". Used to politely acknowledge someone who disagrees with the speaker or writer.
pace tua "with your peace" Thus, "with your permission".
pacta sunt servanda "agreements must be kept" Also "contracts must be honored". Indicates the binding power of treaties.
panem et circenses "bread and circuses" From Juvenal, Satire X, line 81. Originally described all that was needed for emperors to placate the Roman mob. Today used to describe any entertainment used to distract public attention from more important matters.
parens patriae "parent of the nation" A public policy requiring courts to protect the best interests of any child involved in a lawsuit. See also Pater Patriae.
pari passu "with equal step" Thus, "moving together", "simultaneously", etc.
parva sub ingenti "the small under the huge" Implies that the weak are under the protection of the strong, rather than that they are inferior. Motto of Prince Edward Island.
passim "here and there" Less literally, "throughout" or "frequently". Said of a word that occurs several times in a cited texts. Also used in proof reading, where it refers to a change that is to be repeated everywhere needed.
pater familias "father of the family" Or "master of the house". The eldest male in a family, who held patria potestas ("paternal power"). In Roman law, a father had enormous power over his children, wife, and slaves, though these rights dwindled over time. Derived from the phrase pater familias, an Old Latin expression preserving the archaic -as ending.
Pater Patriae "Father of the Nation" Also rendered with the gender-neutral parens patriae ("parent of the nation").
pater peccavi "father, I have sinned" The traditional beginning of a Roman Catholic confession.
pauca sed matura "few, but ripe" From The King and I by Rogers and Hammerstein. Said to be one of Carl Gauss's favorite quotations.
pauca sed bona "few, but good" Good things are better if few.
Pax Americana "American Peace" A euphemism for the United States of America and its sphere of influence. Adapted from Pax Romana.
Pax Aut Bellum "Peace or War" The motto of the Gunn Clan.
Pax Britannica "British Peace" A euphemism for the British Empire. Adapted from Pax Romana.
pax Dei "peace of God" Used in the Peace and Truce of God movement in 10th-Century France.
Pax Deorum "Peace of the Gods" Like the vast majority of inhabitants of the ancient world, the Romans practiced pagan rituals, believing it important to achieve a state of Pax Deorum (The Peace of the Gods) instead of Ira Deorum (The Wrath of the Gods).
pax et bonum "peace and the good" Motto of St. Francis of Assisi and, consequently, of his monastery in Assisi, in the Umbria region of Italy. Translated in Italian as pace e bene.
pax et lux "peace and light" Motto of Tufts University.
pax maternum, ergo pax familiarum "peace of mothers, therefore peace of families" If the mother is peaceful, then the family is peaceful.
Pax Romana "Roman Peace" A period of relative prosperity and lack of conflict in the early Roman Empire.
Pax Sinica "Chinese Peace" A euphemism for periods of peace in East Asia during times of strong Chinese imperialism. Adapted from Pax Romana.
pax vobiscum "peace [be] with you" A common farewell. The "you" is plural ("you all"), so the phrase must be used when speaking to more than one person; pax tecum is the form used when speaking to only one person.
pecunia non olet "the money doesn't smell" According to Suetonius, when Emperor Vespasian was challenged by his son Titus for taxing the public lavatories, the emperor held up a coin before his son and asked whether it smelled or simply said non olet ("it doesn't smell"). From this, the phrase was expanded to pecunia non olet, or rarely aes non olet ("copper doesn't smell").
pecunia, si uti scis, ancilla est; si nescis, domina "if you can use money, money is your slave; if you can't, money is your master" Written on a old Latin tablet in downtown Verona (Italy).
pendent opera interrupta "the work hangs interrupted" From the Aeneid of Virgil, Book IV.
per "By, through, by means of" See specific phrases below.
per annum (p.a.) "through a year" Thus, "yearly"—occurring every year.
per ardua "through adversity" Motto of the British RAF Regiment
per ardua ad astra "through adversity to the stars" Motto of the British Royal Air Force, the Royal Australian Air Force, the Royal Canadian Air Force, and the Royal New Zealand Air Force. The phrase was derived from H. Rider Haggard's famous novel The People of the Mist, and was selected and approved as a motto for the Royal Flying Corps on March 15, 1913. In 1929, the Royal Australian Air Force decided to adopt it as well.
per aspera ad astra "through hardships to the stars" From Seneca the Younger. Motto of NASA and the South African Air Force. A common variant, ad astra per aspera ("to the stars through hardships"), is the state motto of Kansas. Ad Astra ("To the Stars") is the title of a magazine published by the National Space Society. De Profundus Ad Astra ("From the depths to the stars.") is the motto of the LASFS.
per capsulam "through the small box" That is, "by letter".
per capita "through the heads" "Per head", i.e., "per person". The singular is per caput ("through a head").
per contra "through the contrary" Or "on the contrary" (cf. a contrario).
per curiam "through the senate" Legal term meaning "by the court", as in a per curiam decision.
per definitionem "through the definition" Thus, "by definition".
per diem "through a day" Thus, "per day". A specific amount of money an organization allows an individual to spend per day, typically for travel expenses.
Per Mare per Terram "By Sea and by Land" Motto of the Royal Marines.
per mensem "through a month" Thus, "per month", or "monthly".
per os (p.o.) "through the mouth" Medical shorthand for "by mouth".
per procura (p.p.) or (per pro) "through the agency" Also rendered per procurationem. Used to indicate that a person is signing a document on behalf of another person. Correctly placed before the name of the person signing, but often placed before the name of the person on whose behalf the document is signed, sometimes through incorrect translation of the alternative abbreviation per pro. as "for and on behalf of".
per quod "by reason of which" In a UK legal context: "by reason of which" (as opposed to per se which requires no reasoning). In American jurisprudence often refers to a spouse's claim for loss of consortium.
per rectum (pr) "through the rectum" Medical shorthand. See also per os.
per se "through itself" Also "by itself" or "in itself". Without referring to anything else, intrinsically, taken without qualifications, etc. A common example is negligence per se. See also malum in se.
per stirpes "through the roots" Used in wills to indicate that each "branch" of the testator's family should inherit equally. Contrasted with per capita.
per veritatem vis "through truth, strength" Motto of Washington University in St. Louis.
perpetuum mobile "thing in perpetual motion" A musical term. Also used to refer to hypothetical perpetual motion machines.
persona non grata "person not pleasing" An unwelcome, unwanted or undesirable person. In diplomatic contexts, a person rejected by the host government. The reverse, persona grata ("pleasing person"), is less common, and refers to a diplomat acceptable to the government of the country to which he is sent.
petitio principii "request of the beginning" Begging the question, a logical fallacy in which a proposition to be proved is implicitly or explicitly assumed in one of the premises.
pia desideria "pious longings" Or "dutiful desires".
pia fraus "pious fraud" Or "dutiful deceit". Expression from Ovid. Used to describe deception which serves Church purposes.
pia mater "pious mother" Or "tender mother". Translated into Latin from Arabic. The delicate innermost of the three membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord.
pinxit "one painted" Thus, "he painted this" or "she painted this". Formerly used on works of art, next to the artist's name.
pluralis majestatis "plural of majesty" The first-person plural pronoun when used by an important personage to refer to himself or herself; also known as the "royal we".
pollice verso "with a turned thumb" Used by Roman crowds to pass judgment on a defeated gladiator. It is uncertain whether the thumb was turned up, down, or concealed inside one's hand. Also the name of a famous painting depicting gladiators by Jean-Léon Gérôme.
pons asinorum "bridge of asses" Any obstacle that stupid people find hard to cross. Originally used of Euclid's Fifth Proposition in geometry.
Pontifex Maximus "Greatest High Priest" Or "Supreme Pontiff". Originally an epithet of the Roman Emperors, and later a traditional epithet of the pope. The pontifices were the most important priestly college of the ancient Roman religion; their name is usually thought to derive from pons facere ("to make a bridge"), which in turn is usually linked to their religious authority over the bridges of Rome, especially the Pons Sublicius.
posse comitatus "to be able to attend" Thus, to be able to be made into part of a retinue or force. In common law, posse comitatus is a sheriff's right to compel people to assist law enforcement in unusual situations.
post aut propter "after it or by means of it" Causality between two phenomena is not established (cf. post hoc, ergo propter hoc).
post cibum (p.c.) "after food" Medical shorthand for "after meals" (cf. ante cibum).
post hoc ergo propter hoc "after this, therefore because of this" A logical fallacy where one assumes that one thing happening after another thing means that the first thing caused the second.
post meridiem (p.m.) "after midday" The period from noon to midnight (cf. ante meridiem).
post mortem (pm) "after death" Usually rendered postmortem. Not to be confused with post meridiem.
post prandial "after the time before midday" Refers to the time after any meal. Usually rendered postprandial.
post scriptum (p.s.) "after what has been written" A postscript. Used to mark additions to a letter, after the signature. Can be extended to post post scriptum (p.p.s.), etc.
post tenebras lux "after darkness, light" A motto of the Protestant Reformation inscribed on the Reformation Wall in Geneva, Switzerland. A former motto of Chile, replaced by the current one, Por la Razón o la Fuerza (Spanish: "By Right or Might"). Another obsolete motto is aut concilio aut ense.
prima facie "at first sight" Used to designate evidence in a trial which is suggestive, but not conclusive, of something (e.g., a person's guilt).
prima luce "at dawn" Literally "at first light"
Praemonitus praemunitus "forewarned is forearmed." See Praemonitus praemunitus.
primum mobile "first moving thing" Or "first thing able to be moved". See primum movens.
primum movens "prime mover" Or "first moving one". A common theological term, such as in the cosmological argument, based on the assumption that God was the first entity to "move" or "cause" anything. Aristotle was one of the first philosophers to discuss the "uncaused cause", a hypothetical originator—and violator of—causality.
primum non nocere "first, to not harm" A medical precept. Often falsely attributed to the Hippocratic Oath, though its true source is probably a paraphrase from Hippocrates' Epidemics, where he wrote, "Declare the past, diagnose the present, foretell the future; practice these acts. As to diseases, make a habit of two things: to help, or at least to do no harm."
primus inter pares "first among equals" A title of the Roman Emperors (cf. princeps).
principia probant non probantur "principles prove; they are not proved" Fundamental principles require no proof; they are assumed a priori.
prior tempore potior iure "earlier in time, stronger in law" A legal principle that older laws take precedent over newer ones. Another name for this principle is lex posterior.
pro bono "for the good" The full phrase is pro bono publico ("for the public good"). Said of work undertaken voluntarily at no expense, such as public services. Often used of a lawyer's work that is not charged for.
pro Brasilia fiant eximia "let exceptional things be made for Brazil" Motto of São Paulo state, Brazil. See also non ducor duco.
Pro deo et patria "For God and Country" Motto of American University.
pro forma "for form" Or "as a matter of form". Prescribing a set form or procedure, or performed in a set manner.
pro hac vice "for this occasion" Request of a state court to allow an out-of-state lawyer to represent a client.
Pro multis "for many" It is part of the Rite of Consecration of the wine in the Western Christian tradition, as part of the Mass.
pro patria "for country" Pro Patria Medal:- for operational service (minimum 55 days) in defence of the Republic South Africa or in the prevention or suppression of terrorism; issued for the Border War (counter-insurgency operations in South West Africa 1966-89) and for campaigns in Angola (1975-76 and 1987-88)
pro rata "for the rate" i.e., proportionately.
pro re nata (prn) "for a thing that has been born" Medical shorthand for "as the occasion arises" or "as needed".
pro studio et labore "for study and work"
pro se "for oneself" to defend oneself in court without counsel ("pro per" -persona-in California)
pro tanto "for so much" Denotes something that has only been partially fulfilled. A philosophical term indicating the acceptance of a theory or idea without fully accepting the explanation
pro tempore "for the time" Equivalent to English phrase "for the time being". Denotes a temporary current situation.
probatio pennae "testing of the pen" A Medieval Latin term for breaking in a new pen.
propria manu (p.m.) "by one's own hand"
propter vitam vivendi perdere causas "to destroy the reasons for living for the sake of life" That is, to squander life's purpose just in order to stay alive, and live a meaningless life. From Juvenal, Satyricon VIII, verses 83–84.
provehito in altum "launch forward into the deep" Motto of the band 30 Seconds to Mars..
proxime accessit "he came next" The runner-up.
proximo mense (prox.) "in the following month" Formerly used in formal correspondence to refer to the next month. Used with ult. ("last month") and inst. ("this month").
pulvis et umbra sumus "we are dust and shadow" From Horace, Carmina book IV, 7, 16.
punctum saliens "leaping point" Thus, the essential or most notable point.


Latin Translation Notes
qua patet orbis "as far as the world extends" Motto of the Royal Netherlands Marine Corps.
quaecumque vera "whatever is true" Motto of the University of Alberta. Taken from Phillipians 4:8 of the Bible
quaere "seek" Or "you might ask..." Used to suggest doubt or to ask one to consider whether something is correct. Often introduces rhetorical or tangential questions.
quaerite primum regnum Dei "seek ye first the kingdom of God" Motto of Newfoundland and Labrador.
qualis artifex pereo "As what kind of artist do I perish?" Or "What an artist dies in me!" Attributed to Nero by Suetonius.
quamdiu bene gesserit Legal latin: "as long as he shall have behaved well" I.e., "[while on] good behavior." From which Frank Herbert extracted the name for the sisterhood in the Dune novels.
quando omni flunkus, mortati "When all else fails, play dead" Mock-Latin phrase said at the end of The Red Green Show.
quantum libet (q.l.) "as much as pleases" Medical shorthand for "as much as you wish".
quantum sufficit (qs) "as much as is enough" Medical shorthand for "as much as needed" or "as much as will suffice".
quaque hora (qh) "every hour" Medical shorthand. Also quaque die (qd), "every day", quaque mane (qm), "every morning", and quaque nocte (qn), "every night".
quare clausum fregit "wherefore he broke the close" 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.
quater in die (qid) "four times a day" Medical shorthand.
quem di diligunt adulescens moritur "he whom the gods love dies young" Other translations of diligunt include "prize especially" or "esteem". From Plautus, Bacchides, IV, 7, 18. In this comic play, a sarcastic servant says this to his aging master. The rest of the sentence reads: dum valet sentit sapit ("while he is healthy, perceptive and wise").
questio quid iuris "I ask what law?" From the Summoner's section of Chaucer's General Prologue to the Canterbury Tales, line 648.
qui bono "who with good" Common nonsensical Dog Latin misrendering of the Latin phrase cui bono ("who benefits?").
qui pro quo literally qui instead of quo (medieval Latin) Unused in English, but common in other modern languages (for instance Italian and Polish). Used as a noun, indicates a misunderstanding.

Trivia: The expression "quid pro quo" is not used in Italian. An exchange of favours is indicated by "do ut des", another Latin expression meaning "I give in order that you give".
qui tacet consentire videtur "he who is silent is taken to agree" Thus, silence gives consent. Sometimes accompanied by the proviso "ubi loqui debuit ac potuit", that is, "when he ought to have spoken and was able to".
qui transtulit sustinet "he who transplanted still sustains" Or "he who brought us across still supports us", meaning God. State motto of Connecticut. Originally written as sustinet qui transtulit in 1639.
quia suam uxorem etiam suspiciore vacare vellet "because he should wish even his wife to be free from suspicion" Attributed to Julius Caesar by Plutarch, Caesar 10. Translated loosely as "because even the wife of Caesar may not be suspected". At the feast of Bona Dea, a sacred festival for females only, which was being held at the Domus Publica, the home of the Pontifex Maximus, Caesar, and hosted by his second wife, Pompeia, the notorious rhetorian Clodius arrived in disguise. Caught by the outraged noblewomen, Clodius fled before they could kill him on the spot for sacrilege. In the ensuing trial, allegations arose that Pompeia and Clodius were having an affair, and while Caesar asserted that this was not the case and no substantial evidence arose suggesting otherwise, he nevertheless divorced, with this quotation as explanation.
quid est veritas "What is truth?" In the Vulgate translation of John 18:38, Pilate's question to Jesus.
quid novi ex Africa "What of the new out of Africa?" Less literally, "What's new from Africa?" Derived from an Aristotle quotation.
quid pro quo "what for what" Also translated "this for that" or "a thing for a thing". Signifies a favor exchanged for a favor.'

Trivia: The expression "quid pro quo" is not used in Italian. An exchange of favours is indicated by "do ut des", another Latin expression meaning "I give in order that you give".
quid nunc "What now?" Commonly shortened to quidnunc. As a noun, a quidnunc is a busybody or a gossip. Patrick Campbell worked for The Irish Times under the pseudonym "Quidnunc".
quidquid Latine dictum sit altum viditur "whatever has been said in Latin seems deep" Or "anything said in Latin sounds profound". A recent ironic Latin phrase to poke fun at people who seem to use Latin phrases and quotations only to make themselves sound more important or "educated". Similar to the less common omnia dicta fortiora si dicta latina.
quis custodiet ipsos custodes? "Who will guard the guards themselves?" From Juvenal's On Women, originally referring to the practice of having eunuchs guard women and beginning with the word sed ("but"). Usually translated less literally, as "Who watches the watchmen?" This translation is a common epigraph, such as of the Tower Commission and Alan Moore's Watchmen comic book series.
quis ut Deus "Who [is] as God?" Usually translated "Who is like unto God?" Questions who would have the audacity to compare himself to a Supreme Being.
quo errat demonstrator "where the prover errs" A pun on quod erat demonstrandum.
quo fata ferunt "where the fates bear us to" Motto of Bermuda.
quo usque tandem "For how much longer?" From Cicero's Ad Catilinam speech to the Roman Senate regarding the conspiracy of Catiline: quo usque tandem abutere Catilina patientia nostra ("For how much longer, Catiline, will you abuse our patience?").
quo vadis "Where are you going?" According to John 13:36, Saint Peter asked Jesus Domine, quo vadis ("Lord, where are you going?") on the Appian Way in Rome. The King James Version has the translation "Lord, whither goest thou?"
quod erat demonstrandum (Q.E.D.) "which was to be demonstrated" The abbreviation is often written at the bottom of a mathematical proof. Sometimes translated loosely into English as "The Five Ws", W.W.W.W.W., which stands for "Which Was What We Wanted".
quod erat faciendum (Q.E.F) "which was to be done" Or "which was to be constructed". Used by Euclid in his Elements when there was nothing to prove, but there was something be constructed, for example a triangle with the same size as a given line.
quod est (q.e.) "which is"
quod gratis asseritur, gratis negatur "what is asserted without reason may be denied without reason" If no grounds have been given for an assertion, there is no need to provide grounds for contradicting it.
quod licet Iovi non licet bovi "what is permitted to Jupiter is not permitted to an ox" If an important person does something, it does not necessarily mean that everyone can do it (cf. double standard). Iovi (also commonly rendered Jovi) is the dative form of Iuppiter ("Jupiter" or "Jove"), the chief god of the Romans.
quod me nutrit me destruit "what nourishes me destroys me" Thought to have originated with Elizabethan playwright Christopher Marlowe. Generally interpreted to mean that that which motivates or drives a person can consume him or her from within. This phrase has become a popular slogan or motto for pro-ana websites, anorexics and bulimics. In this case the phrase is literally describing food.
quod natura non dat Salmantica non praestat "what nature does not give, Salamanca does not provide" Refers to the Spanish University of Salamanca, meaning that education cannot substitute the lack of brains.
quod vide (q.v.) "which see" Used after a term or phrase that should be looked up elsewhere in the current document or book. For more than one term or phrase, the plural is quae vide (qq.v.).
quomodo vales "how are you?"
quot homines tot sententiae "how many people, so many opinions" Or "there are as many opinions as there are people".


Latin Translation Notes
radix malorum est cupiditas "the root of evils is desire" Or "greed is the root of all evil". Theme of the Pardoner's Tale from The Canterbury Tales.
Rara avis "Rare bird" An extraodinary or unusual thing. From Juvenal's Satires: rara avis in terris nigroque simillima cygno ("a rare bird in the lands, and very like a black swan").
ratio decidendi "reasoning for the decision" The legal, moral, political, and social principles used by a court to compose a judgment's rationale.
ratio legis "reasoning of law" A law's foundation or basis.
ratione soli "by account of the ground" Or "according to the soil". Assigning property rights to a thing based on its presence on a landowner's property.
re "in the matter of" More literally, "by the thing". From the ablative of res ("thing" or "circumstance"). Often used in e-mail replies. It is a common misconception that the "Re:" in e-mail replies stands for reply, response, or regarding, or is simply the prefix meaning "again". The use of Latin re, in the sense of "about, concerning", is English usage. Whether to leave it in Latin or to translate it may depend on the usage of the target language, but the Internet norm is to leave it in Latin.
rebus sic stantibus "with matters standing thus" The doctrine that treaty obligations hold only as long as the fundamental conditions and expectations that existed at the time of their creation hold.
reductio ad absurdum "leading back to the absurd" A common debate technique, and a method of proof in mathematics and philosophy, that proves the thesis by showing that its opposite is absurd or logically untenable. In general usage outside mathematics and philosophy, a reductio ad absurdum is a tactic in which the logic of an argument is challenged by reducing the concept to its most absurd extreme. Translated from Aristotle's "ἡ εις άτοπον απαγωγη" (hi eis atopon apagogi, "reduction to the impossible").
reductio ad infinitum "leading back to the infinite" An argument that creates an infinite series of causes that does not seem to have a beginning. As a fallacy, it rests upon Aristotle's notion that all things must have a cause, but that all series of causes must have a sufficient cause, that is, an unmoved mover. An argument which does not seem to have such a beginning becomes difficult to imagine.
regnat populus "the people rule" State motto of Arkansas, adopted in 1907. Originally rendered in 1864 in the plural, regnant populi ("the peoples rule"), but subsequently changed to the singular.
Regnum Mariae Patrona Hungariae "Kingdom of Mary, the Patron of Hungary" Former motto of Hungary.
repetitio est mater studiorum "repetition is the mother of study"
requiescat in pace (R.I.P.) "let him rest in peace" Or "may he rest in peace". A benediction for the dead. Often inscribed on tombstones or other grave markers. "RIP" is commonly mistranslated as "Rest In Peace", though the two mean essentially the same thing.
rerum cognoscere causas "to learn the causes of things" Motto of the University of Sheffield, the University of Guelph, and London School of Economics.
res gestae "things done" (1) A phrase used in law representing the belief that certain statements are made naturally, spontaneously and without deliberation during the course of an event, they leave little room for misunderstanding/misinterpretation upon hearing by someone else ( i.e. by the witness who will later repeat the statement to the court) and thus the courts believe that such statements carry a high degree of credibility. (2) In history, a Latin biography
res ipsa loquitur "the thing speaks for itself" A phrase from the common law of torts meaning that negligence can be inferred from the fact that such an accident happened, without proof of exactly how. A mock Latin clause sometimes added on to the end of this phrase is sed quid in infernos dicit ("but what the hell does it say?"), which serves as a reminder that one must still interpret the significance of events that "speak for themselves".
res judicata "judged thing" A matter which has been decided by a court. Often refers to the legal concept that once a matter has been finally decided by the courts, it cannot be litigated again (cf. non bis in idem and double jeopardy).
respice finem "look back at the end" i.e., "have regard for the end" or "consider the end". Generally a memento mori, a warning to remember one's death.
respiciendum est iudicanti ne quid aut durius aut remissius constituatur quam causa deposcit nec enim aut severitatis aut clementiae gloria affectanda est "the judge must see that no order be made or judgment given or sentence passed either more harshly or more mildly than the case requires; he must not seek renown, either as a severe or as a tender-hearted judge" A maxim on the conduct of judges.
respondeat superior "let the superior respond" Regarded as a legal maxim in agency law, referring to the legal liability of the principal with respect to an employee. Whereas a hired independent contract acting tortiously may not cause the principal to be legally liable, a hired employee acting tortiously will cause the principal (the employer) to be legally liable, even if the employer did nothing wrong.
res nullius "nobody's thing" Goods without an owner. Used for things or beings which belong to nobody and are up for grabs, e.g., uninhabited and uncolonized lands, wandering wild animals, etc. (cf. terra nullius, "no man's land").
rex regum fidelum et "king even of faithful kings" Latin motto that appears on the crest of the Trinity Broadcasting Network of Paul and Jan Crouch.
rigor mortis "stiffness of death" The rigidity of corpses when chemical reactions cause the limbs to stiffen about 3–4 hours after death. Other signs of death include drop in body temperature (algor mortis, "cold of death") and discoloration (livor mortis, "bluish color of death").
Romanes eunt domus "Romanes go the house" An intentionally garbled Latin phrase from Monty Python's Life of Brian. Its translation is roughly, as said by a centurion in the movie, "'People called Romanes they go the house'", but its intended meaning is "Romans, go home!" When Brian is caught vandalizing the palace walls with this phrase, rather than punish him, the centurion corrects his Latin grammar, explaining that Romanus is a second declension noun and has its plural in -i rather than -es, that ire ("to go") must be in the imperative mood to denote a command, and that domus takes the accusative case without a preposition as the object. The final result of this lesson is the correct Latin phrase Romani ite domum.
rosa rubicundior lilio candidior omnibus formosior semper in te glorior "redder than the rose, whiter than the lilies, fairer than all things, I do ever glory in thee"
rus in urbe "Farm in the city" Generally used to refer to a haven of peace and quiet within an urban setting, often a garden, but can refer to interior decoration.


Latin Translation Notes
saltus in demonstrando "leap in explaining"
salus populi suprema lex esto "the welfare of the people is to be the highest law" From Cicero's De Legibus, book III, part III, sub. VIII. Quoted by John Locke in his Second Treatise, On Civil Government, to describe the proper organization of government. Also the state motto of Missouri and of Harrow.
salva veritate "with truth intact"
Salvator Mundi "Savior of the World" Christian epithet, usually referring to Jesus. The title of paintings by Albrecht Dürer and Leonardo da Vinci.
salvo errore et omissione (s.e.e.o.) "save for error and omission" Appears on statements of "account currents".
salvo honoris titulo (SHT) "save for title of honor"
Sancta Sedes "Holy Chair" More literally, "Sacred Seat". Refers to the Papacy or the Holy See.
Sancta Simplicitas "Holy Innocence" Or "Sacred Simplicity".
sapere aude "dare to be wise" From Horace's Epistularum liber primus, Epistle II, line 40. Popularized by its use in Kant's What is Enlightenment? to define the Enlightenment. Frequently used in mottos, such as for the University of Otago, University of New Brunswick, Phystech, Manchester Grammar School, town of Oldham, and the University of New Zealand before its dissolution.
Sapientia et Doctrina "Wisdom and Learning" Motto of Fordham University, New York.
sapienti sat "enough for the wise" From Plautus. Indicates that something can be understood without any need for explanation, as long as the listener has enough wisdom or common sense. Often extended to dictum sapienti sat est ("enough has been said for the wise", commonly translated as "a word to the wise is enough").
scio "I know"
sedes apostolica "apostolic chair" Synonymous with Sancta Sedes.
sedes incertae seat (i.e. location) uncertain Used in biological classification to indicate that there is no agreement as to which higher order grouping a taxon should be placed into. Abbreviated sed. incert.
sede vacante "with the seat being vacant" The "seat" is the Holy See, and the vacancy refers to the interregnum between two popes.
servus servorum Dei "servant of the servants of God" A title for the pope.
semper excelsius "always higher" Motto of the K.A.V. Lovania Leuven.
semper fidelis "always faithful" Motto of Exeter and several other cities; more recently has become the motto of United States Marine Corps and the Swiss Grenadiers. Also the motto of the Rot-Weiss Oberhausen and Plymouth Argyle football clubs. The US Marines often abbreviate it to Semper Fi.
semper paratus "always prepared" Motto of the United States Coast Guard and the United States Cavalry's 12th Regiment.
semper reformanda "always reforming" A shortened form of a motto of the Protestant Reformation, Ecclesia reformata semper reformanda est secundu Verbum Dei ("the reformed Church must be always reforming according to the Word of God"), which refers to the Protestant position that the church must continually re-examine itself, reconsider its doctrines, and be prepared to accept change, in order to conform more closely to orthodox Christian belief as revealed in the Bible. The shortened form, semper reformanda, literally means "always about to be reformed", but the usual translation is taken from the full sentence where it is used in a passive periphrastic construction to mean "always reforming."
semper ubi sub ubi "always where under where" A common English-New Latin translation joke. The phrase is nonsensical in Latin, but the English translation is a pun on "always wear underwear".
Senatus Populusque Romanus (SPQR) "The Senate and the People of Rome" The official name of the Roman Republic. "SPQR" was carried on battle standards by the Roman legions. In addition to being an ancient Roman motto, it remains the motto of the modern city of Rome.
sensu stricto cf. stricto sensu "with the tight meaning" Less literally, "in the strict sense".
Servo Permaneo Bovis Provestri "Save the Last Bullet for Yourself" Meaning "After giving it everything you've got against the enemy,save the last effort to save yourself".
sesquipedalia verba "words a foot and a half long" From Horace's Ars Poetica, "proicit ampullas et sesquipedalia verba" ("he throws down his high-flown language and his foot-and-a-half-long words"). A self-referential jab at long words and needlessly elaborate language in general.
si peccasse negamus fallimur et nulla est in nobis veritas "if we refuse to make a mistake, we are deceived, and there's no truth in us" From Christopher Marlowe's The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus, where the phrase is translated "if we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and there's no truth in us".
si quaeris peninsulam amoenam circumspice "if you seek a delightful peninsula, look around" State motto of Michigan, adopted in 1835. Said to have been based on the tribute to architect Christopher Wren in St Paul's Cathedral, London, which reads si monumentum requiris circumspice ("if you seek a memorial, look around").
Si tacuisses, philosophus mansisses "If you had kept your silence, you would have stayed a philosopher" This quote is often attributed to the Latin philosopher Boethius of the late fifth and early sixth centuries. It translates literally as, "If you had been silent, you would have remained a philosopher." The phrase illustrates a common use of the subjunctive verb mood. Among other functions it expresses actions contrary to fact. Sir Humphrey Appleby translated it to the PM as: "If you'd kept your mouth shut we might have thought you were clever".
si vales valeo (SVV) "if you are well, I am well" A common beginning for ancient Roman letters. Also extended to si vales bene est ego valeo ("if you are well, that is good; I am well"), abbreviated to SVBEEV. The practice fell out of fashion and into obscurity with the decline in Latin literacy.
si vis pacem para bellum "if you want peace, prepare for war" From Vegetius, Epitoma rei militaris. Origin of the name parabellum for some ammunition and firearms, such as the luger parabellum.
sic "thus" Or "just so". States that the preceding quoted material appears exactly that way in the source, despite any errors of spelling, grammar, usage, or fact that may be present. Used only for previous quoted text; ita or similar must be used to mean "thus" when referring to something about to be stated.
sic et non "thus and not" More simply, "yes and no".
sic gorgiamus allos subjectatos nunc "we gladly feast on those who would subdue us" Mock-Latin motto of The Addams Family.
sic infit "so it begins"
sic itur ad astra "thus you shall go to the stars" From Virgil, Aeneid book IX, line 641. Possibly the source of the ad astra phrases.
sic passim "Thus here and there" Used when referencing books; see passim.
sic semper tyrannis "thus always to tyrants" State motto of Virginia, adopted in 1776. Attributed to Brutus at the time of Julius Caesar's assassination, and to John Wilkes Booth at the time of Abraham Lincoln's assassination; whether it was actually said at either of these events is disputed.
sic transit gloria mundi "thus passes the glory of the world" From the Bible. A reminder that all things are fleeting. During Papal Coronations, a monk reminds the pope of his mortality by saying this phrase, preceded by pater sancte ("holy father") while holding before his eyes a burning paper illustrating the passing nature of earthly glories. This is similar to the tradition of a slave in Roman triumphs whispering "memento mori".
sic utere tuo ut alienum non laedas "use [what is] yours so as not to harm [what is] of others" Or "use your property in such a way that you do not damage others'". A legal maxim related to property ownership laws, often shortened to simply sic utere ("use it thus").
sic vita est "thus is life" Or "such is life". Indicates that a circumstance, whether good or bad, is an inherent aspect of living.
signetur (sig) or (S/) "let it be labeled" Medical shorthand.
Signum Fidei "Sign of the Faith" Motto of the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, founded by St. John Baptist de la Salle.
silentium est aureum "silence is golden" Latinization of the English expression "silence is golden". Also Latinized as silentium est aurum ("silence is gold").
similia similibus curantur "similar things take care of similar things" Or "like cures like". Said by Samuel Hahnemann, founder of homeopathy.
sine anno (s.a.) "without a year" Used in bibliographies to indicate that the date of publication of a document is unknown.
sine die "without a day" Originally from old common law texts, where it indicates that a final, dispositive order has been made in the case. In modern legal context, it means there is nothing left for the court to do, so no date for further proceedings is set.
sine ira et studio "without anger and fondness" Thus, impartially. From Tacitus, Annals 1.1.
sine loco (s.l.) "without a place" Used in bibliographies to indicate that the place of publication of a document is unknown.
sine nomine (s.n.) "without a name" Used in bibliographies to indicate that the publisher of a document is unknown.
sine qua non "without which not" Used to denote something that is an essential part of the whole. See also condicio sine qua non.
sine scientia ars nihil est "without knowledge, skill is nothing"
sit venia verbo "may there be forgiveness for the word" Similar to the English idiom "pardon my French".
sola fide "by faith alone" The material principle of the Protestant Reformation and one of the five solas, referring to the Protestant claim that the Bible teaches that men are saved by faith even without works.
sola gratia "by grace alone" A motto of the Protestant Reformation and one of the five solas, referring to the Protestant claim that salvation is an unearned gift (cf. ex gratia), not a direct result of merit.
Sola lingua bona est lingua mortua "the only good language is a dead language" Example of dog Latin humor.
sola scriptura "by scripture alone" The formal principle of the Protestant Reformation and one of the five solas, referring to the Protestant idea that the Bible alone is the ultimate authority, not the pope or tradition.
soli Deo gloria (S.D.G.) "glory to God alone" A motto of the Protestant Reformation and one of the five solas, referring to the idea that God is the creator of all good things and deserves all the praise for them. Johann Sebastian Bach often signed his manuscripts with the abbreviation S.D.G. to invoke this phrase, as well as with AMDG (ad maiorem Dei gloriam).
solus Christus "Christ alone" A motto of the Protestant Reformation and one of the five solas, referring to the Protestant claim that the Bible teaches that Jesus is the only mediator between God and mankind. Also rendered solo Christo ("by Christ alone").
solus ipse "I alone"
spectemur agendo "let us be judged by our deeds" Motto of the South African College School (SACS) and many other institutions.
spem reduxit "he has restored hope" Motto of New Brunswick.
spes anchora vitae "hope is the anchor of [my] life" Motto of the Doran family.
spiritus mundi "spirit of the world" From The Second Coming (poem) by William Butler Yeats. Refers to Yeats' belief that each human mind is linked to a single vast intelligence, and that this intelligence causes certain universal symbols to appear in individual minds. The idea is similar to Carl Jung's concept of the collective unconscious.
spiritus ubi vult spirat "the spirit spreads wherever it wants" From El espiritu donde quiera se infunde by Fernando Porturas ( Refers to The Gospel of Saint John, where he mentions how Jesus told Nicodemus "The wind blows wherever it wants, and even though you can hear its noise, you don't know where it comes from or where it goes. The same thing happens to whomever has been born of the Spirit". It is the motto of Cayetano Heredia University.
splendor sine occasu "brightness without setting" Loosely "splendour without diminishment" or "magnificence without ruin". Motto of British Columbia.
stamus contra malo "we stand against by evil" The motto of the Jungle Patrol in The Phantom. The phrase actually violates Latin grammar because of a mistranslation from English, as the preposition contra takes the accusative case. The correct Latin rendering of "we stand against evil" would be "stamus contra malum".
stante pede "with a standing foot" "Immediately".
stare decisis "to stand by the decided things" To uphold previous rulings, recognize precedent.
statim (stat) "immediately" Medical shorthand used following an urgent request.
status quo "the state to which" The current condition or situation. Also status quo ante ("the state to which before"), referring to the state of affairs prior to some upsetting event (cf. reset button technique).
stercus accidit "sh*t happens" Attributed to David Hume.
stet "let it stand" Marginal mark in proofreading to indicate that something previously deleted or marked for deletion should be retained.
stipendium peccati mors est "the reward of sin is death" From Christopher Marlowe's The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus.
strenuis ardus cedunt "the heights yield to endeavour" Motto on the coat of arms of the University of Southampton, England.
stricto sensu cf. sensu stricto "with the tight meaning" Less literally, "in the strict sense".
stupor mundi "the wonder of the world" The title by which Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor, was known. More literally translated "the bewilderment of the world", or, in its original, pre-Medieval sense, "the stupidity of the world".
sua sponte "by its own accord" Motto of the U.S. Army Rangers. Also a legal term.
Sub Cruce Lumen "The Light Under the Cross" Motto of the University of Adelaide, Australia. Refers to the figurative "light of learning" and the Southern Cross constellation, Crux.
sub judice "under a judge" Said of a case that cannot be publicly discussed until it is finished. Also sub iudice.
sub poena "under penalty" Commonly rendered subpoena. Said of a request, usually by a court, that must be complied with on pain of punishment. Examples include subpoena duces tecum ("take with you under penalty"), a court summons to appear and produce tangible evidence, and subpoena ad testificandum ("under penalty to testify"), a summons to appear and give oral testimony.
sub rosa "under the rose" "In secret", "privately", "confidentially" or "covertly". In the Middle Ages, a rose was suspended from the ceiling of a council chamber to indicate that what was said in the "under the rose" was not to be repeated outside. This practice originates in Greek mythology, where Aphrodite gave a rose to her son Eros, and he, in turn, gave it to Harpocrates, the god of silence, to ensure that his mother's indiscretions—or those of the gods in general, in other accounts—were kept under wraps.
sub specie aeternitatis "under the sight of eternity" Thus, "from eternity's point of view". From Spinoza, Ethics.
sub verbo; sub voce Under the word or heading, as in a dictionary; abbreviated s.v.
Sui generis "Of its own kind" In a class of its own.
sui iuris "Of one's own right" Capable of responsibility. Has both legal and ecclesiastical use. Commonly rendered sui juris.
sum quod eris "I am what you will be" A gravestone inscription to remind the reader of the inevitability of death (cf. memento mori). Also rendered fui quod sis ("I have been what you are") and tu fui ego eris ("I have been you, you will be I").
summa cum laude "with highest praise"
summum bonum "the supreme good" Literally "highest good". Also summum malum ("the supreme evil").
sunt lacrimae rerum "there are tears for things" From Virgil, Aeneid. Followed by et mentem mortalia tangunt ("and mortal things touch my mind"). Aeneas cries as he sees Carthaginian temple murals depicting the deaths of the Trojan War. See also hinc illae lacrimae.
sunt omnes unum "they are all one"
suo jure "in one's own right" Used in the context of titles of nobility, for instance where a wife may hold a title in her own right rather than through her marriage.
suo moto "upon one's own initiative" Also rendered suo motu. Usually used when a court of law, upon its own initiative, (i.e., no petition has been filed) proceeds against a person or authority that it deems has committed an illegal act. It is used chiefly in South Asia.
supero omnia "I surpass everything" A declaration that one succeeds above all others.
surgam "I shall rise" Motto of Columbia University's Philolexian Society.
suum cuique tribuere "to render to every man his due" One of Justinian I's three basic precepts of law. Also shortened to suum cuique ("to each his own").
s.v. Abbreviation for sub verbo (see above).


Latin Translation Notes
tabula rasa "scraped tablet" Thus, "blank slate". Romans used to write on wax-covered wooden tablets, which were erased by scraping with the flat end of the stylus. John Locke used the term to describe the human mind at birth, before it had acquired any knowledge.
tabula gratulatoria "congratulatory tablet" A list of congratulations.
talis qualis "just as such" "Such as it is" or "as such".
taliter qualiter "somewhat"
technica impendi nationi "Technology impulses nations" Motto of Technical University of Madrid
temet nosce "know thyself" Recently amalgamated into popular culture by a character, The Oracle, in the Wachowski Brothers' 1999 film The Matrix.
Tempora Heroica "Heroic Age" Literally "Heroic Times". Refers to the period of time between the mythological Titanomachy and the (relatively) historical Trojan War.
tempora mutantur et nos mutamur in illis "the times are changing, and we change in them" From Lothair I.
tempus edax rerum "time, devourer of all things" Also "time, that devours all things", or more literally, "time, devouring of things". From Ovid.
tempus fugit "time flees" Commonly mistranslated as "time flies" due to the similar phrase tempus volat hora fugit.
tempus rerum imperator "time, commander of all things"
tempus vernum "summer time" Name of song by popular Irish singer Enya
tempus volat hora fugit "time flies, the hour flees" Or "time speeds while the hour escapes".
teneo te Africa "I hold you, Africa!" Suetonius attributes this to Julius Caesar, from when Caesar was on the African coast.
ter in die (tid) "thrice in a day" Medical shorthand for "three times a day".
terminus ante quem "limit before which" In archaeology or history, refers to the date before which an artifact or feature must have been deposited. Used with terminus post quem ("limit after which"). Similarly, teminus ad quem ("limit to which") may also refer to the latest possible date of a non-punctual event (period, era, etc.), while terminus a quo ("limit from which") may refer to the earliest such date.
terra australis incognito "unknown southern land" First name used to refer to the Australian continent.
terra firma "solid land" Often used to refer to the ground.
terra incognita "unknown land"
terra nova "new land" Also latin name of Newfoundland (island portion of Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador, capital- St. John's), also root of French name of same, Terre-Neuve
terra nullius "land of none" That is, no man's land. A neutral or uninhabited area, or a land not under the sovereignty of any recognized political entity.
terras irradient "let them illuminate the lands" Or "let them give light to the world". An allusion to Isaiah 6.3: plena est omnis terra gloria eius ("the whole earth is full of his glory"). Sometimes mistranslated as "they will illuminate the lands" based on mistaking irradiare for a future indicative third-conjugation verb, whereas it is actually a present subjunctive first-conjugation verb. Motto of Amherst College; the college's original mission was to educate young men to serve God.
tertium non datur "a third is not given" A logical axiom that a claim is either true or false, with no third option.
tertium quid "a third something" 1. Something that cannot be classified into either of two groups considered exhaustive; an intermediate thing or factor. 2. A third person or thing of indeterminate character.
timeo Danaos et dona ferentes "I fear Greeks, even bearing gifts" Danaos being a term for the Greeks. In Virgil's Aeneid, II, 49, the phrase is said by Laocoön when warning his fellow Trojans against accepting the Trojan Horse. The full original quote is quidquid id est timeo Danaos et dona ferentis, quidquid id est meaning "whatever it is" and ferentis being an archaic form of ferentes. Commonly mistranslated "Beware of Greeks bearing gifts".
timidi mater non flet "A coward's mother does not weep" A Latin proverb. Occasionally appears on loading screens in the game Rome: Total War.
timor mortis conturbat me "the fear of death confounds me" A Latin refrain originating in the response to the seventh lesson in the Office of the Dead. In the Middle Ages, this service was read each day by clerics. As a refrain, it appears also in other poems and can frequently be found inscribed on tombs.
translatio imperii "transfer of rule" Used to express the belief in the transfer of imperial authority from the Roman Empire of antiquity to the Medieval Holy Roman Empire.
Treuga Dei "Truce of God" A decree by the medieval Church that all feuds should be cancelled during the Sabbath—effectively from Wednesday or Thursday night until Monday. See also Peace and Truce of God.
tu autem "you indeed" Also "even you" or "yes, you", in response to a person's belief that he will never die. A memento mori epitaph.
tu autem domine miserere nobis "But Thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us" Phrase said at the end of biblical readings in the liturgy of the medieval church.
tu fui ego eris "I was you; you will be me" Thus, "what you are, I was; what I am, you will be.". A memento mori gravestone inscription to remind the reader that death is unavoidable (cf. sum quod eris).
tu ne cede malis, sed contra audentior ito "you should not give in to evils, but proceed ever more boldly against them" From Virgil, Aeneid, 6, 95.
tu quoque "you too" The logical fallacy of attempting to defend one's position merely by pointing out the same weakness in one's opponent. If a politician is criticized for advocating an inadequately-funded plan, and replies that his or her opponent's plan is equally inadequately funded, this is a 'tu quoque' argument: undermining the counterproposal on the same basis does not make the original plan any more satisfactory. Tu quoque may also refer to a "hypocrisy" argument, a form of ad hominem where a claim is dismissed as untrue on the basis that the claimant has contradicted his own advice. While contradiction may make the claimant's argument unsound, it does necessarily not make his claims untrue. It comes from the supposed last words of Julius Caesaer ("Et tu, Brute?")
tuebor "I will protect" Found on the Great Seal on the flag of the state of Michigan.


Latin Translation Notes
uberrima fides "most abundant faith" Or "utmost good faith" (cf. bona fide). A legal maxim of insurance contracts requiring all parties to deal in good faith.
ubertas et fidelitas "fertility and faithfulness" Motto of Tasmania.
ubi bene ibi patria "where [it is] well, there [is] the fatherland" Or "where I prosper, there is my country". Patriotic motto.
ubi caritas et amor Deus ibi est "where there is charity and love, God is there"
ubi mel ibi apes "where [there is] honey, there [are] bees"
ubi dubium ibi libertas "where [there is] doubt, there [is] freedom" Anonymous proverb.
ubi jus ibi remedium "Where [there is] a right, there [is] a remedy"
ubi non accusator ibi non iudex "where [there is] no accuser, there [is] no judge" Thus, there can be no judgement or case if no one charges a defendant with a crime. The phrase is sometimes parodied as "where there are no police, there is no speed limit".
ubi re vera "when, in a true thing" Or "whereas, in reality..." Also rendered ubi revera ("when, in fact" or "when, actually").
ubi solitudinem faciunt pacem appellant "when they make a wasteland, they call it peace" From Tacitus, Agricola, ch. 30.
ubi sunt "where are they?" Nostalgic theme of poems yearning for days gone by. From the line ubi sunt qui ante nos fuerunt ("Where are they, those who have gone before us?").
una salus victis nullam sperare salutem "the only safety for the conquered is to hope for no safety" Less literally, "the only safe bet for the vanquished is to expect no safety". Preceded by moriamur et in media arma ruamus ("let us die even as we rush into the midst of battle") in Virgil's Aeneid, book 2, lines 353–354. Used in Tom Clancy's novel Without Remorse, where character Clark translates it as "the one hope of the doomed is not to hope for safety".
ultimo mense (ult.) "in the last month" Formerly used in formal correspondence to refer to the previous month. Used with inst. ("this month") and prox. ("next month").
ultima ratio "last method" The last resort. Louis XIV of France had Ultima Ratio Regum ("last argument of kings") engraved on the cannons of his armies. From here it names the French sniper rifle PGM Ultima Ratio Hecate II, the fictional Reason and is the motto of the 1st Battalion 11th Marines (with the incorrect Regnum).
ultra vires "beyond powers" "Without authority".
uno flatu "in one breath" Used in criticism of inconsistent pleadings, ie. "one cannot argue uno flatu both that the company does not exist and that it is also responsible for the wrong."
unus multorum "one of many" An average person.
Urbi et Orbi "To the City and the Circle [of the lands]" Meaning "To Rome and the World". A standard opening of Roman proclamations. Also a traditional blessing by the pope.
Urbs in Horto "City in a garden" Motto of the City of Chicago.
Usus magister est optimus practice makes perfect
ut biberent quoniam esse nollent "so that they might drink, since they refused to eat" Also rendered with quando ("when") in place of quoniam. From a story by Suetonius (Vit. Tib., 2.2) and Cicero (De Natura Deorum, 2.3). The phrase was said by Roman admiral Publius Claudius Pulcher right before the battle of Drepana, as he threw overboard the sacred chickens which had refused to eat the grain offered them—an unwelcome omen of bad luck. Thus, the sense is, "if they do not perform as expected, they must suffer the consequences".
ut incepit fidelis sic permanet "as she began loyal, so she persists" Thus, the state remains as loyal as ever. Motto of Ontario.
ut desint vires tamen est laudanda voluntas "though the power be lacking, the will is to be praised all the same" From Ovid, Epistulae ex Ponto (III, 4, 79).
ut infra "as below"
ut prosim "That I may serve" Motto of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech).
ut res magis valeat quam pereat "That the matter may have effect rather than fail"
ut retro "as backwards" Or "as on the back side"; thus, "as on the previous page" (cf. ut supra).
ut sit finis litium "So there might be an end of litigation" A traditional brocard. The full form is Interest reipublicae ut sit finis litium, "it is in the government's interest that there be an end to litigation." Often quoted in the context of statutes of limitation.
ut supra "as above"


Latin Translation Notes
vade ad formicam "go to the ant" A Biblical phrase from the Book of Proverbs. The full quotation translates as "go to the ant, O sluggard, and consider her ways, and learn wisdom".
vade mecum "go with me" A vade-mecum or vademecum is an item one carries around, especially a handbook.
vade retro Satana "Go back, Satan!" An exhortation for Satan to begone, often used in response to temptation. From a popular Medieval Catholic exorcism formula, based on a rebuke by Jesus to Peter in the Vulgate, Mark 8:33: vade retro me Satana ("step back from me, Satan!"). The older phrase vade retro ("go back!") can be found in Terence's Formio I, 4, 203.
vae victis "Woe to the conquered!" Attributed by Livy to Brennus, the chief of the Gauls, while he demanded more gold from the citizens of the recently-sacked Rome in 390 BC.
vanitas vanitatum omnia vanitas "vanity of vanities; everything [is] vanity" More simply, "vanity, vanity, everything vanity". From the Vulgate, Ecclesiastes, 1:2.
vaticinium ex eventu "prophecy from the event" A prophecy made to look as though it was written before the events it describes, while in fact being written afterwards.
vel non "or not" Summary of alternatives, ie. "this action turns upon whether the claimant was the deceased's grandson vel non."
velocius quam asparagi coquantur "more rapidly than asparagus will be cooked" Or simply "faster than cooking asparagus". Ascribed to Augustus by Suetonius (The Lives of the Twelve Caesars, Book 2 (Augustus), para. 87). Can refer to anything done very quickly. A very common variant is celerius quam asparagi cocuntur ("more swiftly than asparagus is cooked").
veni, vidi, vici "I came, I saw, I conquered" The text message sent by Julius Caesar to the Roman Senate to describe his battle against King Pharnaces II near Zela in 47 BC. Sometimes used by magicians as a catch phrase similar to abracadabra in completing a performance.
veni, vidi, vadi "I came, I saw, I went"
vera causa "true cause"
verba ita sunt intelligenda ut res magis valeat quam pereat "words are to be understood such that the subject matter may be more effective than wasted" A legal maxim.
verba volant, scripta manent "words fly away, writings remain"
verbatim et litteratim "word by word and letter by letter"
Verbi divini minister "servant of the divine Word" A priest (cf. Verbum Dei).
Verbum Dei "Word of God" See sacred text.
Verbum Domini Manet in Aeternum (VDMA) "The Word of the Lord Endures Forever" Motto of the Lutheran Reformation.
Verbum sap [sapienti] "A word to the wise" A warning to withdraw, implying that if the opportunity is not taken the admonished person will be exposed.
Verbum sat [satienti] "A word is enough" Similar to Verbum sap, supra.
veritas "truth" Current motto of Harvard University, Providence College and Knox College. Also the name of a British political party (Veritas). The original motto of Harvard, dating to its foundation, was veritas Christo et Ecclesiae ("truth for Christ and Church"); it was shortened to remove the religious implications.
veritas omnia vincit "truth defeats all things" Motto of Wilfrid Laurier University, Ontario.
veritas unitas caritas "Truth, Unity, Love" Motto of Villanova University.
veritas vos liberabit "the truth will set you free" Motto of Johns Hopkins University.
veritate et virtute "with truth and courage" Motto of Sydney Boys High School.
versus (vs) or (v.) "against" Literally "turned" or "in the direction". Commonly used to denote two opposing parties, such as in a legal dispute or a sports match.
veto "I forbid" The right to unilaterally stop a certain piece of legislation. Derived from ancient Roman voting practices.
vi veri universum vivus vici "by the power of truth, I, a living man, have conquered the universe" From Christopher Marlowe's The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus. Note that v was originally the consonantal u, and was written the same before the two forms became distinct, and also after in many cases, when u and v were both capitalized as V: thus, Vniversum. Also, universum is sometimes quoted with the form ueniversum (or Veniversum), which is presumably a combination of universum and oeniversum, two classically-attested spellings). Recently quoted in the film, V for Vendetta, by the main character, V.
via "by the road" Thus, "by way of" or "by means of".

I'll contact you via e-mail.

via media "middle road" The Anglican Communion has claimed to be a via media between the errors of the Roman Catholic Church and the extremes of Protestantism. Can also refer to the radical middle political stance.
via, veritas, vitae "Way, truth, life" The motto of the University of Glasgow.
vice versa "with position turned" Thus, "the other way around", "conversely", etc. Historically, vice is more properly pronounced as two syllables, but the one-syllable pronunciation is extremely common.
victoria aut mors "Victory or death!" See aut vincere aut mori.
victoria concordia crescit "Victory comes from harmony" The official club motto of Arsenal FC.
victrix causa diis placuit sed victa Catoni "the victorious cause pleased the gods, but the conquered cause pleased Cato" Lucanus, Pharsalia 1, 128. Dedication on the south side of the Confederate Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery.
vide infra (v.i.) "see below"
vide supra (v.s.) "see above" Or "see earlier in this writing". Also shortened to just supra.
videlicet [[(viz)]] See the corresponding article
video meliora proboque deteriora sequor "I see and approve of the better things, but I follow the inferior things" Choosing to consciously follow the worse of two options.
video et taceo "I see and keep silent" the motto of Queen Elizabeth I of England.
video sed non credo "I see it, but I don't believe it" Caspar Hofmann after being shown proof of the circulatory system by William Harvey.
vim promovet insitam "promotes one's innate power" Motto of University of Bristol taken from Horace Ode 4.4.
videre licet "it is permitted to see", "one may see"
vincere scis Hannibal victoria uti nescis "you know [how] to win, Hannibal; you do not [how] to use victory" According to Livy, a cavalry colonel told Hannibal this after the victory at Cannae in 216 BC, meaning that Hannibal should have marched on Rome directly.
vincit qui se vincit "he conquers who conquers himself" Or "he who prevails over himself is victorious".
virtus unita fortior "virtue united [is] stronger" State motto of Andorra.
virtute et armis "by virtue and arms" Or "by manhood and weapons". State motto of Mississippi. Possibly derived from the motto of Lord Gray De Wilton, virtute non armis fido ("I trust in virtue, not in arms").
vis legis "power of the law"
visio dei "Vision of a god"
vita ante acta "a life done before" Thus, a previous life, generally due to reincarnation.
viva voce "living voice" An oral, as opposed to a written, examination of a candidate.
vivat crescat floreat "may it live, grow, and flourish!"
Vivat Rex May the King live!" Usually translated "Long live the King!" Also Vivat Regina ("Long live the Queen!").
Vive ut vivas "live so that you may live" The phrase essentially means that one should live life to the fullest and without fear of a possible future consequence.
vocatus atque non vocatus Deus aderit "called and not called, God will be present", or "called and even not called, God approaches" Attributed to the Oracle at Delphi. Used by Carl Jung as a personal motto adorning his home and grave.
volenti non fit injuria "to one willing, no harm is done" or "to he who consents, no harm is done used in tort law to delineate the principle that one cannot be held liable for injuries inflicted on an individual who has given his consent to the action that gave rise to the injury.
votum separatum "separate vow" An independent, minority voice.
vox clamantis in deserto "the voice of one shouting in the desert" (or, traditionally, "the voice of one crying in the wilderness") From Isaiah 40, and quoted by John the Baptist in the Gospels. Usually the "voice" is assumed to be shouting in vain, unheeded by the surrounding wilderness. However, in this phrase's use as the motto of Dartmouth College, it is taken to denote an isolated beacon of education and culture in the "wilderness" of New Hampshire.
vox nihili "voice of nothing" Useless or ambiguous phrase or statement.
vox populi "voice of the people" Sometimes extended to vox populi vox Dei ("the voice of the people [is] the voice of God"). In its original context, the extended version means the opposite of what it's frequently taken to mean: the source is usually given as the monk Alcuin, who advised Charlemagne that nec audiendi qui solent dicere vox populi vox Dei quum tumultuositas vulgi semper insaniae proxima sit, meaning "And those people should not be listened to who keep saying, 'The voice of the people [is] the voice of God,' since the riotousness of the crowd is always very close to madness." (Works, Letter 164)


  1. ^  Pollice Verso
    Pollice Verso by Jean-Léon Gérôme
  2. ^  Further information may be found in the AWADmail Issue 49
  3. ^  Cf. orbis terrarum
  4. ^  Little Oxford Dictionary of Quotations