seize the day

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English[edit]

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Etymology[edit]

Calque of Latin carpe diem, originally meaning "enjoy the day", literally "pluck (or harvest) the day", from a poem by the ancient poet Horace. In Latin, it was common to use carpo (I pluck something, pick off) metaphorically to express enjoying a period of time. The use of seize is a traditional mistranslation originating from a confusion with cape, singular imperative of capio (I seize something, grab).

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Verb[edit]

seize the day (third-person singular simple present seizes the day, present participle seizing the day, simple past and past participle seized the day)

  1. (idiomatic) To enjoy the present and not worry about the future; to live for the moment.
  2. (idiomatic) To make the most of today by achieving fulfillment in a philosophical or spiritual sense.
  3. (idiomatic) To attack the day's efforts with vigor and purpose.
    • 1992, Nixon, Richard, “The Real World”, in Seize the Moment[1], Simon & Schuster, →ISBN, LCCN 91-37743, OCLC 440652941, pages 13-14:
      IN toasting the beginning of a new relationship between China and the United States in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing twenty years ago, I quoted from a poem in which Mao Zedong exhorted his followers to work for the victory of communism: "So many deeds cry out to be done always urgently. The world rolls on. Time passes. Seize the day. Seize the hour." Today, as we celebrate the defeat of communism in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union and the defeat of aggression in the Persian Gulf, many deeds remain to be done abroad and at home. We must seize the moment to win victory for peace and freedom in the world.

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