Ooo those crazy romans… a latin primer.

Ever wonder what that latin phrase or motto you’ve always heard actually means? Here’s a list. Feel free to comment any others that aren’t included… fortes fortuna adiuvat (and aida)


ab aeterno → from the beginning of time
a bene placito → at one’s pleasure
ab imo pectore → from the bottom of the heart
ab incunabulis → from the cradle
ab initio → from the beginning
ab intestato → having made no will
ab ovo → from the egg
absente reo → in absence of the defendant
absit invidia → no offence intended
ab urbe condita → from the foundation of the city (Rome)
a capite ad calcem → from head to heel
a contrario → from a contrary position
a cruce salus → from the cross comes salvation
acte est fabula → the play is finished
actus reus → guilty act
AD (Anno Domini) → in the year of the Lord
ad absurdum → to the point of absurdity
addendum → a thing to be added
ad hoc → to this particular purpose
ad hominem → according to the person
ad infinitum → to infinity
ad interim → for the meantime
ad lib (ad libitum) → as one pleases
ad locum → at the place
AMDG (ad maiorem Dei gloriam) → for the greater glory of God
ad nauseum → to the point of making one sick
ad rem → to the point
adsum → I am here
advocatus diaboli → the devil’s advocate
aet. (aetatis) → age
a fortiori → by stronger reason
agenda → things to be done
Agnus Dei → the Lamb of God
AH (anno hegirae) → in the year of the hegira
alea iacta est → the die is cast
alias → otherwise
alibi → elsewhere
alma mater → nurturing mother
alter ego → other self / also known as
alumnus → nursling (former pupil)
am (ante meridiem) →before midday
a mensa et thoro → from board and bed (legal separation)
amicus curiae → friend of the court
amor patriae → love of country
an. (anno) → year
anno mundi → in the year of the world
anno regni → in the year of reign
annus horribilis → a horrible year
annus mirabilis → a wonderful year
ante → before
antebellum → before the war
ante→mortem → before death
a.p. (ante prandium) → before a meal
a posse ad esse → from possibility to actuality
a posteriori → from what comes later
a priori → from what comes before
aqua vitae → water of life (brandy)
arbiter elegantiae → judge in matters of taste
arcana imperii → secrets of the empire
ars gratia artis → art for art’s sake
artium baccalaureus → Bachelor of Arts (BA)
artium magister → Master of Arts (MA)
AUC (anno urbis conditae) → from the year of founding of the city (Rome)
audaces fortuna iuvat → fortune favours the bold
aude sapere → dare to know
aurea mediocritas → the golden mean
aurora australis → the southern lights
aurora borealis → the northern lights
aut vincere aut mori → either conquer or die
ave atque vale → hello and goodbye
Ave Maria → Hail Mary
a verbis ad verbera → from words to blows

beatae memoriae → of blessed memory
Beata Virgo (Maria)→ the Blessed Virgin (Mary)
bella gerant alii → let others wage war
bibere venenum in auro → drink poison from a cup of gold
b.i.d. (bis in die) → twice a day
bona fide → acting in good faith

c. (circa) → approximately
cadit quaestio → the question drops
caeca invidia est → envy is blind
carpe diem → sieze the day
casus belli → an act used to justify war
cave → beware!
caveat → let him/her beware
caveat emptor → let the buyer beware
cave canem → beware of the dog
cedo maiori → I yield to a greater person
cetera desunt → the rest is missing
ceteris paribus → other things being equal
cf. (confer) → compare
Codex Juris Canonici → book of canon law
cogito ergo sum → I think therefore I am
commune bonum → the common good
compos mentis → of sound mind (and judgement)
concordia discors → discordant harmony
coniunctis viribus → with united powers
consensu omnium → by the agreement of all
consummatum est → it is completed
contra mundum → against the world
coram populo → before the public
Corpus Christi → the body of Christ
corpus delicti → the body of the crime
Corpus Juris Canonici → the body of canon law
Corpus Juris Civilis → the body of civil law
corpus vile → worthless body
corrigenda → things to be corrected
crescite et multiplicamini → increase and multiply
crimen falsi → perjury
crux → puzzle
cui bono → for whose advantage
culpa → a sin
cum → with
cum grano salis → with a grain of salt
cum laude → with praise
curriculum vitae → the course of one’s life
custos morum → guardian of morals

data et accepta → expenditure and receipts
decrevi → i have decreed
de die in diem → from day to day
de facto → in fact
Dei gratia→ by the grace of God
de integro → repeat again from the start
de iure → according to law
de novo → anew
de mortuis nil nisi bonum → speak no ill of the dead
Deo adiuvante → with God’s help
Deo favente → with God’s favour
Deo gratias → thanks be to God
Deo Optimo Maximo → to God, the Best, the Greatest
Deo volente → God willing
de profundis → up from the depths (of misery)
desunt cetera → the rest is missing
deus absconditus → a god who is hidden from man
deus ex machina → god from the machine
Deus vobiscum → God be with you
Deus vult → God wills it
diem perdidi → I have lost a day
Dies Irae → Day of Wrath
dies non → business free day
dira necessitas → grim necessity
disjecta membra → the scattered remains
divide et impera → divide and rule
dixi → i have spoken
docendo discimus → by teaching, we learn
doli capax → capable of crime
Domine, dirige nos → Lord, direct us
Dominus illuminatio mea → the Lord is my light
Dominus vobiscum → the Lord be with you
(domus) dulcis domus → (home) sweet home
dramatis personae → characters of the play
dum spiro, spero → while I breathe, I hope

ecce homo → behold the man
ecce signum → behold the proof
e contrario → from a contrary position
editio princeps → first printed edition
e.g. (exempli gratia) → by grace of example
ego et rex meus → I and my King
eiusdem generis → of the same kind
emeritus → honourably discharged from service
eo ipso → by that very act
eo nomine → under that name
e pluribus unum → one out of many
e re nata → as circumstances dictate
E.R. (Elizabeth Regina/Eduardus Rex) → Queen Elizabeth/King Edward
ergo bibamus → therefore, let us drink
errare humanum est → to err is human
erratum (errata) → error (errors)
est deus in nobis → the is a god inside us
esto perpetue → may you last for ever
et al. (et alii/et aliae/et alia) → and others
etc. (et ceterae/etcetera) → and the rest
et seq. (et sequens) → and the following
et seqq. (et sequentia) → and those that follow
et sic de ceteris → and so to of the rest
et tu, Brute → and you, Brutus
e vestigio → from where one stands
ex → out of
ex cathedra → with authority
excelsior → higher
exceptio probat regulam → the exception proves the rule
exceptis excipiendis → excepting what is to be excepted
exeat → let him/her go out
exeunt → they go out
exeunt omnes → all go out
ex gratia → done as a favour
ex hypothesi → from the hypothesis
exit → he/she goes out
exitus acta probat → the outcome justifies the deed
ex libris → from the library of
ex more → according to custom
ex officio → by right of office
ex parte → on behalf of one party only
ex post facto → from what is done afterward
ex proprio motu → voluntarily
ex silentio → from silence (from lack of contrary evidence)
extempore → without premeditation
ex voto → according to one’s vow

facile princeps → acknowledged leader
facta, non verba → deeds, not words
factum est → it is done
fama semper vivat → may his/her fame last forever
favete linguis → to keep a (religious) silence
fec. (fecit) → made by
felix culpa → happy fault
felo de se → suicide
festina lente → make haste slowly
fiat → let it be done
fiat lux → let there be light
Fidei Defensor → defender of the faith
fidus Achates → faithful Achates (friend)
filioque → and from the son
filius nullius → a bastard
finis → the end
flagrante delicto → in the act of committing a crime
flamma fumo est proxima → the is no smoke without fire
floruit → flourished
fons et origo → the source and origin
fortes fortuna adiuvat → fortune favors the brave
fugit hora → the hour flies

genius loci → the guardian spirit of the place
gloria → glory
Gloria in Excelsis Deo → glory to God in the highest
Gloria Patri → glory to the Father
graviora manent → greater dangers await

habeas corpus → you are to produce the body
habemus Papam → we have a Pope
hac lege → with this law
haud ignota loquor → I say things that are known
hic et nunc → here and now
hic iacet → here lies
hinc illae lacrimae → hence these tears
HJ (hic jacet) → here lies
HJS (hic jacet sepultus) → here lies buried
hoc erat in votis → this was among my prayers
homo homini lupus → man is a wolf to man
homo sum → i am a man
honoris causa → for the sake of honour
honor virutis preamium → honour is the reward of virtue
horribile dictu → horrible to relate
horror vacui → fear of empty places
hunc tu caveto → beware of this man

ib. (ibidem) → in the same place
i.e. (id est) → that is to say
ign. (ignotus) → unknown
ignis fatuus → foolish fire (will→o→the→wisp)
ignorantia legis neminem excusat → ignorance of the law excuses no one
ignoratio elenchi → an ignorance of proof
Imp. (Imperator/Imperatrix) → Emperor/Empress
imperium → absolute power
imprimatur → let it be printed
imprimis → in first place
in absentia → in the absence of
in actu → in practice
in aeternum → for eternity
in articulo mortis → at the moment of death
in banco → on the bench
in camera → in private chamber
incipit → begin here
index librorum prohibitorum → list of forbidden books
in distans → at a distance
in dubio → in doubt
in esse → in existence
in excelsis → in the highest
in extenso → at full length
in extremis → in extremity
in fine → at the end
infra → below, underneath
infra dig. (infra dignitatem) → beneath one’s dignity
in futuro → in the future
in gremio legis → in the protection of the law
in infinitum → to infinity
in loco parentis → in the place of a parent
in medias res → into the midst of things
in memoriam → in memory of
in nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Santi → in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit
in nubibus → in the clouds
in nuce → in a nutshell
in omnia paratus → ready for anything
in ovo → in the egg
in parvo → in miniature
in perpetuum → for ever
in personam → against the person
in pleno → in full
in posse → in possibility
in praesenti → at the present time
in principio → in the beginning
in propria persona → in person
in puris naturalibus → completely naked
in re → refering to
in rem → against the matter (property)
in rerum natura → in the nature of things
INRI (Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum) → Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews
insculpsit → he/she engraved it
in se → in itself
in situ → in position
inter alia → among other things
inter alios → among other people
in terrorem → as a warning
inter se → between themselves
inter spem et metum → between hope and fear
inter vivos → between living (people)
in totidem verbis → in so many words
in toto → completely
in transitu → in passing
intra vires → within the powers
in usu → in use
in utero → in the womb
in vacuo → in a vacuum
in vino veritas → in wine is truth
in vitro → in glass
in vivo → in the living (thing)
ipsi dixit → he himself said it
ipsissima verba → the exact words
ipso facto → by that very fact
ipso iure → by operation of the law
i.q. (idem quod) → the same as
ite, misse est → go, the Mass is finished
iubilate Deo → rejoice in God
iure divino → by divine law
iure humano → by human law
ius civile → civil law
ius gentium → the law of nations
ius primae noctis → right of the first night
iustitia omnibus → justice for all

There is no j in Latin. However, J is often used as a replacement for a capital I.
(i.e. Jupiter should be Iupiter).


L.S.D. (libra solidus denarius)→ pounds, shillings, pence
lachryma Christi → Christ’s tears
lapsus calami → a slip of the pen
lapsus linguae → a slip of the tongue
lapsus memoriae → a slip of the memory
laus Deo → praise be to God
lc (loco citato) → in the place cited
lector benevole → kind reader
lex domicilii → the law of a person’s home country
lex fori → the law of the forum (country)
lex loci → the law of the place
lex non scripta → the unwritten (common) law
lex scripta → the written law
lex talionis → the law of revenge
licet → it is allowed
litterae humaniores → the humanities
literati → men of letters
locus classicus → classical passage
locus delicti → the scene of the crime
locus desperatus → a hopeless passage
locus in quo → the place in which something happens
locus poenitentiae → a place for repentance
LS (locus sigilli) → the place of the seal
locus standi → place of standing
longo intervallo → after a long gap
loq. (loquitur) → he/she speaks
lumen naturale → natural light
lupus est homo homini → man is wolf to man
lusus naturae → a freak of nature
lux mundi → the light of the world

MA (Magister Artium) → master of arts
magna cum laude → with great distinction
magnificat → it magnifies
magnum bonum → a great good
magnum opus → the greatest piece of work (of an artist)
mala fide → in bad faith
mare clausum → a closed sea
mare liberum → an open sea
mare nostrum → our sea (Mediterranean)
mater → mother
Mater Dolorosa → sorrowful mother (Virgin Mary)
materfamilias → mother of family
materia medica → medical matter
maximus in minimis → great in little things
mea culpa → through my fault
memento mori → remember that you must die
memorabilia → memorable things
memoria in aeterna → in everlasting remembrance
memoriter → from memory
mens rea → guilty mind
mens sana in corpore → a healthy mind in a healthy body
millennium (millennia) → a thousand year period
mirabile dictu → wonderful to relate
mirabile visu → wonderful to behold
miserere → have mercy
Missa solemnis → solemn Mass (high Mass)
mittimus → we send (to prison)
modus agendi → manner of operation
m.o. (modus operandi) → way of operating
modus vivendi → way of living
moratorium → a delay
morituri te salutant → those who are about to die salute you
motu proprio → of one’s own initiative
multum in parvo → much in small space
mutatis mutandis → with the necessary changes
mutato nomine → the name being changed

nascentes morimur → from the moment we are born, we die
natale solum → native soil
natura abhorret a vacua → nature abhors a vacuum
nb. (nota bene) → note well
ne cede malis → do not give in to misfortune
necessitas non habet legem → necessity has no law
nem. con. (nemine contradicente) → with no one speaking in opposition
nem. diss. (nemine dissentiente) → with no one disagreeing
ne nimium → not too much
ne plus ultra → no further
nihil → nothing
nihil ad rem → nothing to do with the point
nihil obstat → nothing stands in the way
nil desperandum → do not despair
nisi prius → unles previously
nolens volens → whether willing or unwilling
noli me tangere → touch me not
nolle prosequi → do not pursue
nolo contendere → I do not wish to contend
nominatim → by name
non bis in idem → not twice for the same thing
non compos mentis → not of sound mind
non licet → it is not allowed
non liquet → it is not clear
non nobis, Domine → not unto us, O Lord
non placet → it does not please
non prosequitur → he does not proceed
non sequitur → it does not follow
nosce te ipsum → know thyself
novus homo → a new man
nulli secundus → second to none
numen → divine power
numerus clausus → a restricted number
Nunc Dimittis → now let depart
nunc est bibendum → now it is time to drink

ob. (obiit) → he/she died
ob. (obiter) → in passing
obiter dictum → something said in passing
obscurum per obscurius → the obscure by means of the more obscure
oderint dum metuant → let them hate provided that they fear
odi et amo → i hate and I love
olim → formerly
omnia vincit amor → love conquers all
omnium gatherum → assortment
onus probandi → the burden of proof
op. cit. (opere citato) → in the cited work
optimis parentibus → to my excellent parents
opus Dei → the work of God
ora pro nobis → pray for us
ore rotundo → with full voice
o tempora! o mores! → what times! what customs!

p.a. (per annum) → every year
pace → by leave of
pace tua → with your consent
pacta sunt servanda → agreements must be kept
parens patriae → parent of the country
pari passu → with equal pace
particeps criminis → partner in crime
passim → all through
paterfamilias → father of the family
pater historiae → the father of history
Pater Noster → Our Father
pater patriae → father of the country
patris est filius → he is his father’s son
paucis verbis → in a few words
pax → peace
pax vobiscum → peace be with you
peccavi → I have sinned
peculium → property
pendente lite → while a suit is pending
per ardua ad astra → through difficulties to the stars
per annum → yearly
per capita → per head
per cent (per centum) → per hundred
per contra → on the contrary
per diem → daily
per mensem → monthly
per pro (per procurationem) → by delegation to
perpetuum mobile → perpetual motion
per se → by itself
persona (non) grata → (un)welcome person
petitio principii → an assumption at the start
pictor ignotus → painter unknown
pinxit → he/she painted it
placet → it pleases
pleno iure → with full authority
pm (post meridiem) → after midday
posse (posse comitatus) → the force of the country
post bellum → after the war
post factum → after the fact
post hoc → after this
post mortem → after death
post obitum → after death
post partum → after childbirth
pr (per rectum) → through the rectum
praemonitus, praemunitus → forewarned, forearmed
prima facie → at first sight
primum mobile → prime mover
primus inter pares → first among equals
prn (pro re nata) → as needed
probatum est → it has been proved
pro bono (pro bono publico) → for the good of the public
pro forma → as a matter of formality
pro hac vice → for this occaision
pro memoria → for a memorial
pro nunc → for now
pro patria → for one’s country
pro rata → in proportion to the value
pro tem. (pro tempore) → for the time being
proxime accessit → he/she came close
ps (post scriptum) → written later

qe (quod est) → which is
QED (quod erat demonstrandum) → which was to be demonstrated
QEF (quod erat faciendum) → which was to be done
qm (quaque mane) → every morning
qn (quaque nocte) → every night
qs (quantum sufficit) → as much as suffices
qqv (quae vide) → see these things
qua → in so far as
quaere verum → seek the truth
quantum meruit → as much as he/she deserved
quid pro quo → something for something
quis custodiet ipsos custodes → who will guard the guardians
qui tacet consentit → who keeps silent consents
quo iure → by what law?
quandam → formally
quorum → of whom
quo vadis → where are you going to?
qv (quod vide) → see this thing

rara avis → rare bird
re → concerning
recto → on the right
redivivus → come back to life
reductio ad absurdum → reduction to the absurd
referendum → something to be referred
regina → queen
religious loci → the (religious) spirit of the place
requiescat in pace → may he/she rest in peace
res gestae → things done
res ipsa loquitur → the thing speaks for itself
res judicata → thing already judged upon
respice finem → look to the end
res publica → the public thing
resurgam → i shall rise again
rex → king
RI (Regina et Imperatrix/Rex et Imperator) → Queen and Empress/King and Emperor
rigor mortis → the rigidity of death
RIP (requiescat in pace) → may he/she rest in peace

salve veritate → saving the truth
salve → hello
sanctum sanctorum → the holy of holies
sartor resartus → the tailor patched
satis → enough
sc. (scilicet) → that is to say
scala Caeli → the ladder of heaven
scala naturae → the ladder of nature
scandalum magnatum → scandal of magnates
schola cantorum → school of singers
sciri facias → cause (him) to know
scripsit → he/she wrote it
sculpsit → he/she engraved it
semper idem → always the same
semper fidelis → always faithful
semper paratus → always be prepared
sensu lato → broadly speaking
sensu stricto → strictly speaking
seq. (sequens) → the following (one)
seqq. (sequentia) → the following (ones)
seriatim → in order
sic → thus
sic erat in fatis → so it was fated
sic itur ad astra → such is the way to the stars
sic passim → thus everywhere
sic transit gloria mundi → so passes the glory of the world
sine cura → without a care
sine die → without a day (indefinitely)
sine qua non → something/someone indispensable
siste, viator → stop, traveller
si vis pacem, para bellum → if you want peace, prepare for war
sl (sine loco) → without place
sp (sine prole) → without issue
spero melior → I hope for better things
spiritus asper → rough breathing
spiritus lenis → smooth breathing
SPQR (Senatus Populusque Romanus) → the Senate and the Roman people
Stabat Mater → the mother was standing
stare decisis to stand by things decided
status quo → the current state of being
stet → let it stand
sua cuique voluptas → everyone has his own pleasures
sub dio → under the open sky
sub iudice → under a judge
sub lite → in dispute
sub poena → under penalty of law
sub rosa → under the rose (secretly)
suggestio falsi → suggestion of something false
sui generis → of his/her/its kind
sui iuris → of one’s own right
summa cum laude → with highest praise
summum bonum → the highest good
suo iure → in one’s own right
suo loco → in a person’s rightful place
supra → above
sursum corda → lift up your hearts (to God)
sv (sub voce) → under the voice

tabula rasa → blank tablet
tacet → silence
te Deum → Thee, God
te igitur → thee, therefore
tempore → in the time of
tempus fugit → time flees
terminus ad quem → the end to which
terminus a quo → the end from which
terra firma → solid ground
terra incognita → unknown land
tertium quid → a third something
theatrum mundi → the theatre of the world
t.i.d. (ter in die) → three times a day
timeo Danaos et dona ferentis → I fear the Greeks even when they bear gifts
totidem verbis → in so many words
tu quoque → you likewise

uberrima fides → utmost good faith
ubique → everywhere
ubi supra → where (cited) above
ubi sunt → where are
ultima ratio → ultimate sanction
ultima Thule → the most distant Thule
ultimus Romanorum → the last of the Romans
ultra vires → beyond the powers
una voce → with one’s voice
urbi et orbi → to the city and to the world
ut dict. (ut dictum) → as directed
ut infra → as below
ut sup. (ut supra) → as above
uti foro → to play the market
uti possidetis → as you possess

v (verso) → reverse
v (versus) → against
v (vide) → see
vade in pace → go in peace
vade mecum → go with me
vae victis → woe to the conquered
vale → farewell
variorum → of various people
veni, vidi, vici → I came, I saw, I conquered
venire facias → you must make come
verbatim et litteratim → word for word and letter for letter
verb. sap. (verbum sapienti sat est) → a word is enough to the wise
veritas nunquam perit → truth never dies
veritas vos liberabit → the truth will set you free
via → by way of
Via Crucis → the Way of the Cross
Via Dolorosa → the Way of Sorrow
Via Lactea → the Milky Way
via media → the middle way
vice → in place of
vice versa → in reverse order
vide → see
vide ut supra → see the above
vi et armis → by force and arms
VIR → (Victoria Imperatrix Regina) → Victoria, Empress and Queen
virginibus puerisque → for maidens and youths
virgo intacta → intact virgin
vivat regina → long live the queen
vivat rex → long live the king
viva voce → with living voice
vixit → he/she has lived
viz (videlicet) → namely
v.l. (varia lecto) → variant reading
volente Deo → God willing
vox populi → the voice of the people
VR (Victoria Regina) → Queen Victoria
VRI (Victoria Regina et Imperatrix) → Victoria, Queen and Empress

Comments 2

  1. Hi there love the site. Have always wanted to really understand these cool expressions. Anyway one that I feel you should include is the
    ” Dulce et decorum est; mori por patria mori”

    I believe this one is something that most people have come to use, why not include it.


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