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10 BEAUTIFUL LATIN WORDS AND PHRASES

beautiful latin words and phrases
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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.

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:

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.

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.

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. Over to you

Got any good phrases to add?

Comment below!

beautiful latin words and phrases

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88 Comments

  • Reply
    Guy
    16th August 2019 at 10:13 am

    Si vis pacem, parabellum

  • Reply
    JK
    24th June 2019 at 12:36 pm

    Hi! Can someone translate ”Nothing real can’t be threatened” and ” I’m the lion” and If someone has some empowering words in latin that could make a great tattoo let me know! Something like Excelsior for example.

  • Reply
    GTG
    13th June 2019 at 11:39 pm

    miseria fortes viros-misery makes strong people
    il vincit qui patitur-He conquers who endures
    Vincere Diem- “Win the day”

  • Reply
    Gabriela
    30th May 2019 at 11:52 pm

    Hey, I wanted to get “learn to love” tattooed in Latin, since I have so many issues with love.
    Could anyone help me translate it?

    • Reply
      Gabriela
      11th June 2019 at 12:53 am

      Thank you so much for your help ❤️❤️❤️

      • Reply
        Sophie Nadeau
        11th June 2019 at 11:06 am

        Many phrases have various meanings and so I would consult with a Latin professor before committing to a tattoo!

        • Reply
          Gabriela
          11th June 2019 at 11:13 am

          Yes, I’ve seen those meanings on the internet, I’m considering tattooing it in English to avoid mistakes

      • Reply
        Ollie
        13th June 2019 at 11:05 am

        Ego sum stultus means “I am stupid”, so I wouldn’t go for that one O.o

  • Reply
    Nitti
    9th May 2019 at 2:35 am

    Ego Omnia!

  • Reply
    Michael Butler
    3rd May 2019 at 8:29 am

    Would someone be able to translate “Paucorum est intellegere non celet fortunae et in paucorum bonorum.” For me? It is my twitter bio from a while ago but I can’t remember what it means and Google translate is no help when it comes to Latin. Thanks in advance

    • Reply
      Chris Naused Jr.
      5th May 2019 at 6:31 pm

      “The few that I can not hide from his fortune and a few good men.” Might have a grammar issue.

  • Reply
    Peter Geissler
    1st May 2019 at 11:33 pm

    No mention of veni, vidi, vici?

  • Reply
    Elizabeth
    27th April 2019 at 3:10 pm

    “Docendo discimus” (I teach so we learn). I think it’s the motto for every teacher…we learn so much from our students! I memorized this when I started learning Latin to add to my class, and it has spoken to me ever since. Of course, in teaching, there’s also the moments everyone has in the classroom, and then “Dirige me, Domine!”-said while trying not to roll the eyes- (Lead me, Lord!) comes into play! Also good as a substitute for counting to 10…

  • Reply
    Kitty McFarland
    14th April 2019 at 8:47 am

    momento mori – remember (that) you will die

  • Reply
    Shera
    12th April 2019 at 5:04 am

    hi i need help from anyone. i want to put a name for my shopping store. please give me some suggestions name from Latin with English meaning

  • Reply
    Brandon
    6th April 2019 at 8:44 am

    So you are telling me nobody is even going to mention Sic Parvis Manga?

    • Reply
      Baran Kazan
      18th April 2019 at 2:06 pm

      Greatness from small beginnings, I thought I was the only one here!

  • Reply
    Travis
    28th March 2019 at 2:21 am

    hi, anyone can help translate these 2 phrases in Latin?
    “World of Life”
    “Small World”

    thank you~!

  • Reply
    Nico
    27th March 2019 at 5:46 pm

    In libras libertas

    In books, freedom

  • Reply
    Earnest Ernest
    21st March 2019 at 8:33 am

    Sapere Aude – Dare To Know

  • Reply
    Ken worley
    18th March 2019 at 9:45 pm

    En omnibus, vertus est clavem!
    In everything, courage is key!

  • Reply
    Achilles
    14th March 2019 at 4:35 pm

    Vox Populi, Vox Dei – The voice of the people is the voice of God.

  • Reply
    Ekaterina
    8th March 2019 at 12:21 pm

    What an awesome article! Hopefully someone could help me. I am looking for a correct way of saying in Latin of a few things. “Love is all” or “love is everything” and the other two “higher than the stars” “only the stars are higher”
    Would really appreciate the help)

  • Reply
    Lis
    20th February 2019 at 12:08 pm

    The first phrase I learnt at the age of 6 was: ”Ubi bene ibi patria.” No need to translate it, speaks by itself clearly.
    That’s a perfect phrase for the world now. At the age of six I didn’t know I will move to another country and will become a patriot of that country.

    • Reply
      Earnest Ernest
      21st March 2019 at 8:36 am

      I prefer “Ubi Panis Ibi Patria”

  • Reply
    Natasha
    16th February 2019 at 11:07 pm

    Finis coronat opus- the end crowns the work

  • Reply
    Ery
    14th February 2019 at 7:58 pm

    Omnia mutantur nos et mutamur in illis. Everything changes and we change with it

  • Reply
    Mary
    14th February 2019 at 4:29 am

    I always thought the saying was Alis Volat Propriis am I wrong? Just wondering as I wanted to her this inscribed into a necklace bar

  • Reply
    karyn
    5th February 2019 at 1:09 pm

    hihi! i just stumbled upon this post hahaha. im looking for a latin way of saying something family related. such as “i live for my family” or “family first” or “family before all”. do you think you could help me out?

  • Reply
    Juniper Scythe
    18th January 2019 at 4:32 am

    I have so many sayings I love, here are just a few.

    “aut neca aut necare” ~Either kill or be killed

    “Veritas Vos Liberabit” ~The truth will set you free.

    “dictum factum” ~What is said is done.

    “fortes fortuna adiuvat” ~Fortune favors the bold.

    “humilitas occidit superbiam” ~Humiity conquers pride.

    “ex nihilo nihil fit” ~ Out of nothing, comes nothing.

  • Reply
    Juniper Scythe
    18th January 2019 at 4:15 am

    I love this article! Latin is such a beautiful language, and I hate that it’s called a “dead langauge” because it’s not only the cornerstone, or should I say ” Primarii Lapidis” which means “Foundation-stone”. Latin is history itself including how it was formed, who spoke it, and the prominance it has in the Catholic and Pagan faiths. Im sure most people have seen a movie or TV show where you hear a Priest say, “In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti”. Millions of people still speak, teach, and learn Latin. Njerep is a language spoken in Nigeria by only FOUR people! Latin isn’t even the top 10 of least spoken language.

  • Reply
    Frances Dawa
    4th January 2019 at 4:19 pm

    It’s out of the context but those latin phrases sound like good book titles….okay I’m out

    • Reply
      Evelyn Meyer
      6th January 2019 at 7:41 pm

      Literally came here for some good book titles

  • Reply
    Lila
    17th December 2018 at 4:43 pm

    Omnium Rerum Principia Parva Sunt
    The beginning of all things is small.

  • Reply
    Dela
    7th December 2018 at 8:27 am

    Tempus Fugit- Time Flies
    And my favorite
    Assinorum
    Literally translates to “Bridge of Donkeys”. Polite way of calling someone a Jackass.

  • Reply
    Rob
    4th December 2018 at 1:41 pm

    Amor meus, pondus meum

    My love [is] my gravity – St. Augustine

    St. Augustine also says that ‘all the other emotions of the soul are caused by love.’ Anything we do is out of love of something. What do you love, that is the question?

  • Reply
    Neil
    28th November 2018 at 4:24 pm

    My favourite is Amor fati love of one’s fate.

  • Reply
    Rockems Hazer
    11th November 2018 at 6:00 am

    Esperanto is more useful.

  • Reply
    Bruno
    10th November 2018 at 10:33 pm

    Qui tacet consentit.

    He who is silent consents.

  • Reply
    Brenda
    16th October 2018 at 5:52 pm

    Loved this article!! Thanks for writing it!! 🙂
    Just wanted to add the last line that pulls the
    first two together:
    Carpe Diem Carpe Noctem, Carpe Vitam

    Seize the day, seize the night, seize this life!

  • Reply
    Tia
    16th October 2018 at 4:20 am

    These are all so beautiful! Could someone tell me if there is a phrase similar to “To the Moon and back”
    This phrase means a lot to me and I want to get it as a tattoo. Latin is such a beautiful language and I want to make sure I get it right..

  • Reply
    kahia
    1st October 2018 at 5:31 pm

    ad eundum quo nemo ante iit- (latin translation of Star Trek’s motto) to boldly go where no man has gone before

  • Reply
    Carmen
    1st October 2018 at 3:17 pm

    I want to get “strength in friendship” as a tattoo… but wanted to make sure it was correct. Virtute amicitia?

  • Reply
    Michelle
    1st September 2018 at 12:40 am

    Hell All, I’m looking for a wee bit of help. I have an antique bell with the names of four animals carved into it with accompanying images.
    I’ve easily deduced: LEO and AQVILA but am stuck on:
    ACNVS – the image is definitely a 4-legged animal
    ELICANVS- the image with it looks like a stork or perhaps pelican
    Thanks in advance!

    • Reply
      Shelley
      1st March 2019 at 7:30 am

      Hi Michelle, if you are still looking for an answer to your question… the four animals would be religious symbols. The lion and and the eagle are commonly used to symbolise St Mark (lion) and St John (eagle). The next is probably ‘Agnus’ or lamb. The pelican also has Christian symbolism dating from the medieval period, based on the myth of the pelican sacrificing itself to feed its young.

      • Reply
        Michelle
        1st March 2019 at 3:25 pm

        Thank-you so much, Shelley! That is very helpful.

  • Reply
    Phoenix Ngcobo
    2nd July 2018 at 2:34 am

    Cogito Ergo Sum – I Think Therefore I Am

    • Reply
      will
      17th July 2018 at 12:12 am

      Bibo ergo sum

      • Reply
        Times New Roamin'
        24th September 2018 at 4:04 am

        Bibo ergo ebrius sum

  • Reply
    Sam Samuels
    22nd June 2018 at 4:07 pm

    In veritas dolor – truth through pain

  • Reply
    Shannon Roble
    19th June 2018 at 2:45 am

    Nosce Te Ipsum ~ Know Thyself

  • Reply
    Moose
    7th June 2018 at 5:02 pm

    Ad astra per aspera – “through hardship to the stars”

  • Reply
    Joana
    21st May 2018 at 2:02 am

    Forsan et haec olim meminisse iuvabit.- and perhaps one day it will help to remember these things

    • Reply
      Alex
      4th March 2019 at 2:24 am

      Vergil, nice. I like adding “even” in front of “these things” bc it adds more drama to the scene. I felt Aeneas in that scene honestly, lying through his teeth and pushing through the pain for the sake of his men.

  • Reply
    Leisa Ensley
    17th May 2018 at 3:17 pm

    I would like to get a tattoo in latin that means “Truth in Love” and I’m finding different translations on the web. Can you tell me how you would interpret it please?

  • Reply
    Heather
    12th May 2018 at 5:51 am

    How do I translate “The air that I breathe”???

  • Reply
    Elizabeth
    24th April 2018 at 11:35 am

    What is the correct translation for “the light within me” in latin?

  • Reply
    Lee Caballero
    7th April 2018 at 8:03 pm

    ALETHEIA…Not only to know the truth but to tell yourself the truth!

  • Reply
    Kenroy A. Smith
    26th March 2018 at 11:02 pm

    Nil Sine Magno Labore: Nothing is achieved without hard work!

    • Reply
      Lol
      2nd May 2018 at 5:13 pm

      Appopinquare non animum recouparare: To approach and lose your mind

  • Reply
    Mitchy
    23rd March 2018 at 1:39 pm

    Amare et sapere vix deo conceditur. – “Even a god finds it hard to love and be wise at the same time.”

  • Reply
    Shraddha
    7th March 2018 at 8:21 pm

    Memento Viveri
    Remember to live.. don’t be carried away with challenges life throws at you, take time to smile and enjoy beautiful life

  • Reply
    Jo Mercer
    13th February 2018 at 3:14 pm

    Latin and Greek weren’t offered when I was in High School in the early 1970’s–something about it being “irrelevant” (sigh). I went on to a career in biology in which both those languages would have been wonderful to know and understand.

    Sooo….could you help me out with this request?

    I would like my weightlifting shirt to read: “She lifts with her own strength.”

  • Reply
    Dylan Phillips
    1st February 2018 at 9:10 am

    Hey! Can you perhaps translate: “life is precious”.. I struggle to find an accurate meaning without religion added to the phrase

  • Reply
    Sophie Rose
    18th December 2017 at 2:48 am

    actually, Salve is hello to one person, Salvete is hello to two or more people. However, Vale means goodbye to one person and Valete means goodbye to two or more people.

  • Reply
    Ember
    15th July 2017 at 7:46 pm

    Nil manet semper

    (There are no sweeter words than this)

  • Reply
    F.
    11th July 2017 at 5:06 pm

    In Omnia Paratus (Ready for anything) I love this phrase from Gilmore Girls <3

    • Reply
      Shraddha
      14th March 2018 at 10:34 am

      Wow… That’s good one.

  • Reply
    Dilyana Bukurova
    10th May 2017 at 10:57 pm

    Hello, that’s a beautiful article!
    Can I ask for some help, an advice. I would like to have a tattoo with my family’s first letter names in latin words that form a nice sentence with great meaning if possible.. The letters are G, S, D, V . Can you think of beautiful latin words with those letters? Thank you in advance!! ♡

    • Reply
      Phoenix Ngcobo
      2nd July 2018 at 3:09 am

      I’m not sure you can create a word with that since there are no vowels to form “actual” words with

      Maybe try with the first and second letters of their names

      • Reply
        Mjau
        6th March 2019 at 6:34 pm

        I think she meant a latin sentace in witch the first letters of the words are g s d v

  • Reply
    Angelinna
    3rd May 2017 at 12:18 am

    “Amor ex oculis oriens
    in pectus cadit.”

    Love is borne by the eye and sinks into the heart.

    • Reply
      Shraddha
      14th March 2018 at 10:41 am

      Wow Angelinna that’s beautiful… Thanks for sharing

    • Reply
      Shraddha
      14th March 2018 at 10:43 am

      Wow… Angelinna that’s beautiful, tgabks for sharing. 🙂

    • Reply
      Jessica Wara
      24th February 2019 at 8:36 am

      WOW. THAT IS BEAUTIFUL

  • Reply
    Oran McDuffs
    21st January 2017 at 9:16 pm

    amicitia tutela a ligno,

    friendship is a protective tree

  • Reply
    Alex
    1st October 2016 at 12:21 am

    Love this! I studied Latin for 10 years and always got weird looks when I said I enjoyed it. So glad to see that someone else appreciates it! 🙂

  • Reply
    Trina
    28th August 2016 at 5:49 am

    I love it! Thanks!

  • Reply
    Sharon Bivens
    3rd June 2016 at 12:07 am

    Spero means I hope.
    Dum spiro spero-while I breathe I hope

    • Reply
      Cecilia Liv
      1st August 2016 at 6:10 pm

      This is very beautiful. Thank you very much

    • Reply
      Cher
      24th December 2017 at 4:46 am

      This is beautiful

    • Reply
      Sunita_amina@hotmail.com
      27th April 2018 at 3:18 pm

      One of the first Latin phrases I was told (over 30 years ago) and the one I remember best. Maybe because it is so beautiful.

  • Reply
    Pierre-André d'Ornano
    10th January 2016 at 10:50 am

    Dura lex sed lex

  • Reply
    Pierre-André d'Ornano
    10th January 2016 at 10:50 am

    Sic transit gloria mundi

  • Reply
    Tanja (the Red phone box travels)
    7th January 2016 at 7:49 pm

    per aspera ad astra!:) I learned Latin for two years in high school:)

  • Reply
    Tara
    12th November 2015 at 10:44 pm

    Wow, I love this list! I knew some of the Latin phrases, but not their English translations. Most I just didn’t know. I love Audere est Facere.

    • Reply
      mbr hilltop
      15th December 2017 at 4:32 am

      who

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