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10+ Best & Beautiful Latin Words and Phrases (+ Latin Quotes)

Latin is a beautiful Romance language from which many of our languages in Europe stem from today. Latin quotes can be found all over the place from mottos to car stickers and so if you’re looking for some Latin words and sayings to use yourself, then you’ve come to the right place.

10+ Best & Beautiful Latin Words and Phrases (+ Latin Quotes)

Why study Latin?

I’m often asked why I study Latin. Latin, a dead language.  My reply is always a nonchalant, ‘Oh, well it’s fun’ but perhaps it should be ‘Oh, well it’s useful’. After all, is the cornerstone for many modern European languages. Incidentally, if you’re having trouble focusing, then be sure to check out my guide on the best tips for working from home.

Disregarding this, it is also the root for most medical and law words in the English language. Nevertheless, the most important aspect of learning Latin is ‘those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it’. The Romans were great innovators; they gave us sewers, concrete and high rise apartment blocks.

However, they also had slaves, misogyny was rife and not everyone was allowed to vote. We can learn a lot about how to and how to not run a society from the Romans. And what better way to understand a group of people than by understanding their language? So here are my top Latin words and phrases:

Poltross Burn Milecastle, Hadrian's Wall, England
Poltross Burn, a Milecastle that’s part of Hadrian’s Wall in the UK

Best and most beautiful Latin Words and Phrases

#1 Carpe Diem

Seize the day.

Okay, let’s start with an easy one.

How is it even possible to rephrase Carpe Diem in English?

Don’t wait around.

Go out and chase your dreams.

Etc. etc. etc.

#2 Carpe Noctem

Seize the night

Literally the opposite of Carpe Diem, this one is perfect for all those all nighters you have to pull when you’re too lazy to have done that 5000 word dissertation earlier in the term.

As the daughter of two night owls, I often struggle to fall asleep before 4am and so I prefer this one to Carpe Diem.

#3 Ex Nihilo Nihil Fit.

From nothing comes nothing.

Work hard, play harder.

Without hard work and stamina, you won’t be able to achieve much. Nothing in life will just be ‘given’ to you.

#4 Salve

Hello + Goodbye

This is the root for the french word ‘salut’ and is used as a greeting for both hello and goodbye. There is no equivalent in English, and the Italian version would be ‘ciao’.

In case you ever get magically transported back in time, it may be useful to know how to greet a Roman!

#5 Audere est Facere

To do is to dare

Famously used as the motto for Tottenham Hotspur F.C., the origins for the use of Latin mottos has a history dating all the way back to the middle ages. Universities (and therefore their mottos) were founded around Catholic Monasteries whose main language was Latin (and so it made sense for them use Latin mottos).

Over the years, prestigious institutions have carried on the tradition of using a Latin motto to distinguish themselves.

Graffiti from Pompeii, Italy: 2000 year old Graffitti found in Southern Italy, near Naples
Ruins of Pompeii in Italy

#6 Semper Fidelis

Always faithful

Known around the world as the motto for the US marine corps, it was also used as the motto for the city of Exeter, UK (where I’m from) in the 17th Century.

#7 Amor Omnia Vincit

Love conquers all

Do I even need to explain this one?!

#8 Utinam Ne Illum Numquam Conspexissem

If only I had never seen him.

Confession time: this is literally my Tinder ‘bio’ because I’m really tragic like that (and I wonder why I’ve never been on a ‘Tinder’ date)!

#9 Alis Propriis Volat 

She flies with her own wings

The actual phrase is gender neutral but is often translated as ‘she’ because the motto was originally used to describe nations (and countries are usually described as feminine).

Watch out for the double ‘i’ in Propriis; it is commonly misspelt in tattoos and logos…

#10 Bona Fide

With good faith.

Got any good phrases to add?

Comment below!

Front facade of the Temple d'Auguste et Livie on a clear and sunny day with blue skies
Temple of Augustus in the city of Vienne
beautiful latin words and phrases

Sophie Nadeau loves dogs, books, travel, pizza, and history. A fan of all things France related, she runs solosophie.com when she’s not chasing after the next sunset shot or consuming something sweet. She now splits her time between London and Paris! Follow Sophie on Instagram.

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glenn

Saturday 11th of June 2022

Hi Sophie, Thanks for this. I trust you are doing well.

Silvia

Wednesday 4th of May 2022

Carpe dentum

Seize the teeth!

Silia

Wednesday 9th of March 2022

anima sana in corpore sano -> healthy mind in a healthy body (also acronym of Asics company) Modus vivendi = way of living Sine qua non -> an essential condition mea culpa -> my mistake

Kenny Hablero

Sunday 13th of February 2022

Fortis fortuna adiuvat - fortune favors the bold/strong/brave. by Publius Terentius

Gregorius Magnus

Saturday 5th of February 2022

Alea iacta est: the die is cast Oderint dum metuant: let them hate, so long as they fear

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