View random article

250 Great Latin Phrases to Impress Your Friends

Latin may be as obsolete as a 1998 personal computer but the ancient dead tongue of the world’s greatest thinkers pack a mind punch and often evoke a slight chuckle. As the Italic language spoken long, long ago in Rome, Italy, and other places, a great deal of scholars, clergy, and other people have managed to keep Latin alive. After all, many of today’s languages have grown in Latin roots. Plus the mottoes, phrases, and proverbs of yore are quite wise. And, at times, hilariously comical. Before you wrinkle your nose at the thought of how utterly dorky most people who know, study, or speak Latin are, give them and the following 250 Best Latin Phrases a chance. Trust us, you’ll relate. But if you laugh, remember when Ovid said "Rident stolidi verba latina" he meant "Fools laugh at the Latin language."

1. Amicitiae nostrae memoriam spero sempiternam fore - Cicero
“I hope that the memory of our friendship will be everlasting.”

2. Vestis virum reddit - Quintilianus
“The clothes make the man.”

3. Aequam memento rebus in arduis servare mentem - Horace
“Remember when life’s path is steep to keep your mind even.”

4. Vir sapit qui pauca loquitur - Unknown
“That man is wise who talks little.”

5. Ad praesens ova cras pullis sunt meliora - Unknown
“Eggs today are better than chickens tomorrow” or “A bird in hand is worth two in the bush.”

6. Vires acquirit eundo - Virgil
“It gains strength by going (or as it goes).”

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

8. Vitam regit fortuna, non sapientia - Cicero
“Fortune, not wisdom, rules lives.”

9. Alea iacta est - Caesar
“The dies has been cast.”

10. Vitanda est improba siren desidia - Horace
“One musts avoid that wicked temptress, Laziness.”

11. Antiquis temporibus, nati tibi similies in rupibus ventosissimis exponebantur ad necem - Unknown
“In the good old days, children like you were left to perish on windswept crags.”

12. Vitiis nemo sine nascitur - Horace
“No one is born without faults.”

13. Amicus verus est rara avis - Unknown
“A true friend is like a wise bird.”

14. Vulpem pilum mutat, non mores - Unknown
“A fox may change its hair, not its tricks” or “People change behavior but not their aims.”

15. Aut viam inventiam aut faciam - Unknown
“I will either find a way or make one.”

16. Vos vestros servate, meos mihi linquite mores- Petrarch
“You cling to your own ways and leave mine to me.”

17. Auribus tenere lupum - Terence
“I hold a wolf by the ears” or “I’m in a dangerous situation and dare not let go.”

18. Ubi concordia, ibi victoria - Publius Syrus
“Where is the unity, there is the victory.”

19. Argumentum ad hominem - Unknown
“Directing an argument against an opponent’s character rather than the subject at hand.”

20. Una hirundo non facit ver- Horace
“One Swallow does not make summer.”

22. Bis vincit qui se vincit in victoria - Syrus
“He conquers twice who in the hour of conquest conquers himself.”

23. Ut desint vires, tamen est laudanda voluntas - Ovid
“Although the power is lacking, the will is commendable.”

24. Brevior saltare cum deformibus mulieribus est vita - Unknown
“Life is too short to dance with ugly women.”

25. Ut sementem feceris, ita metes - Cicero
“As you sow, so shall reap.”

26. Brevis ipsa vita est sed malis fit longior - Publilius Syrus
“Our life is short but is made longer by misfortunes.”

27. Ut sit magna, tamen certe lenta ira deorum est - Unknown
“The wrath of the gods may be great, but it certainly is slow.”

28. Certum est, quia impossible - Tertullianus
"It is certain, because it is impossible."

29. Ut desint vires, tamen est laudana voluntas - Ovid
“Although the power is lacking, the will is commendable.”

30. Cave caneum, te necet lingendo - Unknown
"Beware of the dog, he may lick you to death."

31. Venienti occurrite morbo - Persius
“Meet the misfortune as it comes.”

32. Cotidie damnatur qui semper timet - Syrus
"The man who is constantly in fear is every day condemned."

33. Vestigia terrent - Horace
“The footprints frighten me.”

34. Cuiusivis hominis est errare; nullius nisi insipientis in errore perseverare - Unknown
"Any man can make a mistake; only a fool keeps making the same one."

35. Liberae sunt nostrae cogitationes - Cicero
“Our thoughts are free.”

36. Coniecturalem artem esse medicinam - Aullus Cornelius
"Medicine is the art of guessing."

37. Libertas inaestimabilis res est - Corpus luris Civilis
“Liberty is a thing beyond all price.”

38. Conseutudinius magna vis est - Cicero
"The force of habit is great."

39. Liberate te ex inferis - Unknown
“Save yourself from hell.”

40. Damnet quod non intellgunt - Unknown
"They condemn what they do not understand."

41. Licentia poetica - Seneca
“Poetic License.”

42. Dente lupus, cornu taurus petit - Horace
"The wolf attacks with his fang, the bull with his horn."

43. Lupus in fabula - Terence
“The wolf in the tale” or “Speak of the wolf, he will come.”

44. De asini vmbra disceptare - Unknown
"To argue about the shadow of an ass" or "Petty things for petty mind."

45. Maior risus, acrior ensis: quadragesima octava regula quaesitus - Unknown
“The bigger the smile, the sharper the knife.”

46. Difficile est longum subito deponere amorem - Catullus
"It is difficult to suddenly give up a long love."

47. Male parta male diabunter - Cicero
“What has been wrongly gained is wrongly lost.”

48. Dilis aliter visum - Unknown
"The Gods decided otherwise."

49. Malum consilium quod mutari non potest - Publilius Syrus
“It’s a bad plan that can’t be changed.”

50. Curae leves lonquuntur ingentes stupent - Unknown
"Slight griefs talk, great ones are speechless" or "Minor losses can be talked away, profound ones strike us dumb."

51. Ridentem dicere verum quid vetat - Horace
"What forbids a laughing man from telling the truth?"

52. Difficile est tenere quae acceperis nis exerceas - Pliny the Younger
"It is difficult to retain what you may have learned unless you should practice it."

53. Risu inepto res ineptior nulla est - Catullus
"There is nothing more foolish than a foolish laugh."

54. Diligentia maximum etiam mediocris ingeni subsidium - Seneca
"Diligence is a very great help even to a mediocre intelligence."

55. Saepe ne utile quidem est scire quid futurum sit - Cicero
"Often it is not even advantageous to know what will be."

56. Dimidium facti qui coepit habet - Horace
"Half is done when the beginning is done."

57. Salus populi suprema lex - Cicero
"The safety of the people is the supreme law."

58. Difficile est saturam non scribere - Juvenalis
"It is hard not to write satire."

59. Scio me nihil scire - Socrates
"I know that I know nothing."

60. Disiecti membra poetae - Horace
"Limbs of a dismembered poet."

61. Semper inops quicumque cupit - Claudian
"Whoever desires is always poor."

62. A fronte praceipitium a tergo lupi - Unknown
"A precipice in front, wolves behind" or "Between a rock and a hard place."

63. Semper idem - Cicero
"Always the same thing."

64. Dulce bellum inexpertis - Pindaros
"War is sweet for those who haven't experienced it."

65. . Serva me, servabo te - Petronius Arbiter
"Save me and I will save you."

66. Dum excusare credis, accusas - St. Jerome
"When you believe you are excusing yourself, you are accusing yourself."

67. Si vis pacem, para bellum - Vegetius
"If you want peace, prepare for the war."

68. Dum inter homines sumus, colamus humanitatem - Seneca
"As long as we are among humans, let us be humane."

69. Si vis amari, ama - Seneca
"If you wish to be loved, love."

70. Dum viviumus, vivamus" - Epicurean Philosophy
"When we live, let us live."

71. Sic itur ad astra - Virgil
"Such is the path to the stars."

72. Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori - Horace
"It is sweet and glorious to die for one's country."

73. Ad aususta per angusta - Unknown
"To high places by narrow roads."

74. Simia quam similis, turpissimus bestia, nobis! - Cicero
"How like us is that very ugly beast the monkey!"

75. Ego spem pretio non emo - Unknown
"I do not purchase hope for a price" or "I do not buy a pig in a poke."

76. Spemque metumque inter dubiis - Virgil
"Hover between hope and fear."

77. Eheu fugaces labunter anni - Horace
"Alas, the fleeting years slip by."

78. Sunt lacrimae rerum et mentuem mortalia tangunt - Virgil
"These are the tears of things, and our mortality cuts to the heart."

79. Errare humanum est - Seneca
"To err is human."

80. Suum cuique pulchrum est - Cicero
"To each his own is beautiful."

81. Esse est percipi - Mauser
"Being is perception."

82. Tantum eruditi sunt liberi - Epictetus
"Only the educated are free."

83. Est autem fides credere quod nondum vides; cuius fidei merces est videre quod credis - St. Augustine
"Faith is to believe what you do not see; thereward of this faith is to see what you believe."

84. Tarditas et proscrastinatio odiosa est - Cicero
"Delay and procrastination is hateful."

85. Est deus in nobis - Unknown
"There is a god inside us."

86. Tetigisti acu - Plautus
"You have hit the nail on the head."

87. Est queadam fiere voluptas - Ovid
"There is a certain pleasure in weeping."

88. Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes - Virgil
"I fear the Greeks, even when they bring gifts."

89. Est modus in rebus - Horace
"There is a middle ground in things."

90. Etiam capillus unus habet umbram - Publilius Syrus
"Even one hair has a shadow."

91. Timendi causa est nescire - Seneca
"Ignorance is the cause of fear."

92. Extinctus ambitur idem - Horace
"The same (hated) man will be loved after he's dead. How quickly we forget."

93. Transit umbra, lux permanet - Unknown
"Shadow passes, light remains."

94. Extra ecclesiam nulla salus - highly disputed phrase of the Roman Catholic theology
"Outside the Church, (there is) no salvation."

95. Ubi concordia, ibi victoria - Publius Syrus
"Where there is unity, there is the victory."

96. Fabas indulcet fames - Unknown
"Hunger sweetens the beans" or "Hunger makes everything taste good."

97. Una hirundo non facit ver - Horace
"One Sallow does not make Summer."

98. Faber est suae quisque fortunae - Appius Claudius Caecus
"Every man is the artisan of his own fortune."

99. Ut desint vires, tamen est laudanda voluntas - Ovid
"Although the power is lacking, the will is commendable."

100. Facilius est multa facere quam diu - Quintilianus
"It is easier to do many things than to do one for a long time."

101. Ut sit magna, tamen certe lenta ira deorum est - Unknown
"The wrath of the gods may be great, but it certainly is slow."

102. Facilius per partes in cognitionem toitius adducimur - Seneca
"We are more easily led part by part to an understanding of the whole"

103. Ut sementem ferceris, ita metes - Cicero
"As you sow, so shall you reap."

104. Facito aliquid operis, ut te semper diabolus inveniat occupatum - St. Jerome
"Always do something, so that the devil always finds you occupied."

105. Vae victis - Livy
"Woe to the vanquished (or conquered)."

106. Facta, non verba - Unknown
"Deeds, not words."

107. Veni, vidi, vici - Julius Caesar
"I came, I saw, I conquered."

108. Fallaces sunt rerum species - Seneca
"The appearances of things are deceptive."

109. Venienti occurrite morbo - Persius
"Meet the misfortune as it comes."

110. Fama crescit eundo - Virgil
"The rumor grows as it goes."

111. Vestigia terrent - Horace
"The footprints frighten me."

112. Falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus - Unknown
"False in one thing, false in all."

113. Vestis virum reddit -Quintilianus
"The clothes make the man."

114. Fama volat - Virgil
"The rumor has wings."

115. Vir sapit qui pauca loquitur - Unknown
"That man is wise who talks little" or "Know when to hold your tongue."

116. Favete linguis - Horace
"To keep a religious silence."

117. Vires acquirit eundo - Virgil
"It gains strength by going" or "As it goes."

118. Fas est et ab hoste doceri - Ovid
"It's proper to learn even from an enemy."

119. Vitam regit fortuna, non sapientia - Cicero
"Fortune, not wisdom, rules lives."

120. Felix qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas - Virgil
"Happy is he who has been able to learn the causes of things. "

121. Vitanda est improba siren desidia - Horace
"One must avoid that wicked temptress, Laziness."

122. Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt - Caesar
"Men readily beleive what they want to believe."

123. Vitiis nemo sine nascitur- Horace
"No one is born without faults."

124. Finis coronat opus - Ovid
"The ending crowns the work."

125. Vix ulla tam iniqua pax, quin bello vel aequissimo sit potior - Erasmus
"Scarcely is there any peace so unjust that it is better than even the fairest war."

126. Flagrante delicto - Unknown
"While the crime is blazing" or "Caught red-handed in the very act of crime."

127. Vos vestros servate, meos mihi linquite mores - Petrarch
"You cling to your own ways and leave mine to me."

128. Flamma fumo est proxima - Plautus
"Flame follows smoke."

129. Velpem pilum mutat, non mores - Unknown
"A fox may change its hair, but not its tricks."

130. Fluctuat nec mergitur - Unknown
"It is tossed by the waves but it does not sink."

131. Tantum religio potuit saudere malorum - Lucretius
"So potent was religion in persuading to evil deeds."

132. Fortes et liber - Alberta
"Strong and free."

133. Malum consilium quod mutari non potest - Publilius Syrus
“It’s a bad plan that can’t be changed.”

134. Forsan miseros meliora sequentur - Virgil
"For those in misery, perhaps better things will follow."

135. Malum quidem nullum esse sine aliquo bono - Pliny The Elder
“There is, to be sure, no evil without something good.”

136. Forest fortuna adiuvat - Terence
"Fortune favors the brave."

137. Manus manum lavat - Petronius
“The favor for the favor” or “One hand washes the other.”

138. Fugit inreparabile tempus - Virgil
"Irretrievable time flies."

139. Materiam superabat opus - Ovid
“The workmanship was better than the subject matter.”

140. Gladiator in arena consilium capit - Seneca
"The gladiator is formulating his plan in the arena" or essentially "Too late."

141. Mea mihi conscientia pluris est quam omnium sermo - Cicero
“My conscience means more to me than all speech.”

142. Hinc illae lacrimae - Terence
"Hence these tears."

143. Medacem memorem esse oportet - Quintilianus
“A liar needs a good memory.”

144. Gutta cavat lapidem, non vi sed saepe cadendo - Ovid
"The drop excavates the stone, not with force but by falling often."

145. Mens agitat molem - Virgil
“The mind moves the matter.”

146. Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori - Horace
“It is sweet and glorious to die for one’s country.”

147. Homines libenter quod volunt credunt - Terentius
“Men believe what they want to.”

148. Mens regnum bona possidet - Seneca
“An honest heart is a kingdom in itself.”

149. Homo vitae commondatus non donatus est - Pubilius Syrus
“Man has been lent to life, not given.”

150. Multi famam, conscientiam pauci verentur - Pliny
“Many fear their reputation, few their conscience.”

151. Homines, dum docent, discunt - Seneca
“Men learn while they teach.”

152. Ignis aurum probat, miseria fortes viros - Unknown
“Fire tests gold; adversity tests strong men.”

153. Mus uni non fidit antro - Plautus
“A mouse does not rely on just one hole.”

154. Ill mi par esse deo videtur - Catullus
“He sees to me to be equal to a god.”

155. Musica delenit bestiam feram - Unknown
“Music soothes the savage beast.”

156. Ill dolet vere, qui sine teste dolet - Marialis
“He mourns honestly who mourns without witnesses.”

157. Nam et ipsa scientia potestas es - Sir Francis Bacon
“Knowledge is power.”

158. In hoc signo vinces - Eusebios
“In this sign, you will be victorious.”

159. Nec possum tecum vivere, nec sine te - Martial
“I can live neither with you, nor without you.”

160. In alio pediculum, in te ricinum non vides - Petronius
“You see a louse on someone else, but not a tick on yourself.”

161. Nec verbum verbo curabis reddere fidus interpres - Horace
“As a true translator you will take care not translate word for word.”

162. In medio tutissiums ibis - Ovid
“In the middle of things you will go most safe.”

163. Necesse est multos timat quem multi timent - Laberius
“He must fear many, whom many fear.”

164. In magnis et voluisse sat est - Propertius
“To once have wanted is enough in great deeds.”

165. Nemo autem regere potest nisi qui et regi - Seneca
“Moreover, there is no one who can rule unless he can be ruled.”

166. In medio stat virtus - Horace
“Virtue is in the moderate, not the extreme position.”

167. Nemo malus felix - Juvenal
“No bad man is lucky.”

168. In silvam ne ligna feras - Horace
“Don’t carry logs into the forest.”

169. Nemo repente fuit turpissimus - Juvenal
“No one ever became thoroughly bad in one step.”

170. In vino veritas - Unknown
“The truth is in wine.”

171. Nemo risum praebuit, qui ex se coepit - Seneca
“Nobody is laughed at, who laughs at himself.”

172. Inhumanitas omni aetate molesta est - Cicero
“Inhumanity is harmful in every age.”

173. Nemo sine vitio est - Seneca the Elder
“No one is without fault.”

174. In virtute sunt multi ascensus - Cicero
“There are many degrees in excellence.”

175. Nemo timendo ad sumum pervenit locum - Syrus
“No man by fearing reaches the top.”

176. Inter caecos regnat strabo - Erasmus
“Among blinds the squinting rules.”

177. Nervos belli, pecuniam - Cicero
“The nerve of war, money.”

178. Iniqua nunquam regna perpetuo manent - Seneca
“Stern masters do not reign long.”

179. Nihil aliud scit necessitas quam vincere - Syrus
“Necessity knows nothing else but victory.”

180. Ipsi dixit - Cicero
“He himself said it.”

181. Nihil est ab omni parte beatum - Horace
“Nothing is good in every part.”

182. Interfice errorem, diligere errantem - St. Augustine
“Kill the sin, love the sinner.”

183. Nihil est incertius volgo - Cicero
“Nothing is more uncertain than the (favor of the) crowd."

184. Inventas vitam iuvat excoluisse per artest - Virgil
“Let us improve life through science and art.”

185. Nihil est miserum nisi cum putes - Boethius
“Nothing is unfortunate if you don’t consider it unfortunate.”

186. Ipsa scientia potestas est - Bacon
“Knowledge itself is power.”

187. Nihil tam munitum quod non expugnari pecunia possit - Cicero
“No fort is so strong it can not be taken with money.”

188. Labo omnia vincit - Virgil
“Work conquers all things.”

189. Noli equi dentes inspicere donati - St. Jerome
“Do not look a gift horse in the mouth.”

190. Latet anguis in herba - Virgil
“A snake lies in the grass.”

191. Nolite id cogere, cape malleum majorem - Unknown
“Don’t force it, get a bigger hammer.”

192. Ira furor brevis est - Horace
“Anger is a brief insanity.”

193. Non multa, sed multum - Plinius
“Not many, but much” or “Not quantity but quality.”

194. Leve fit, quod bene fertur, onus - Ovid
“The burden is made light which is born well.”

195. Non omnes qui habemt citharam sun citharoedi - Bacon
“Not all those who own a musical instrument are musicians.”

196. Legum servi sumus ut liberi esse possimus - Cicero
“We are slaves of the law so that we may be able to be free.”

197. Non omnia moriar - Horace
“Not all of me will die.”

198. Libenter homines id quod volut credunt - Caesar
“Men gladly believe that which they wish for.”

200. Non omnia possumus omnes - Virgil
“Not all of us are able to do all things” or “We can’t all do everything.”

201. Transit umbra, lux permanet - Unknown
“Shadow passes, light remains.”

202. Non ut edam vivo, sed vivam edo - Quintilianus
“I do not live to eat, but eat to live.”

203. Ut incepit fidelis sic permanet - Unknown
“As loyal as she began, so she remains.”

204. Nulla res carius constat quam quae precibus empta est - Seneca
“Nothing is so expensive as that which you have bought with pleas.”

205. Saepe creat molles aspera spina rosas - Ovid
"Often the prickly thorn produces tender roses."

206. Nullius in verba - Horace
“(Rely) on the words of no one.”

207. O praeclarum custodem ovium lupum - Cicero
“An excellent protector of sheep, the wolf!"

208. Nullum magnum ingenium sine mixtura dementiae - Unknown
“There is no one great ability without a mixture of madness.”

209. Probitas laudatur et alget - Juvenal
“Honesty is praised and left in the cold.”

210. Nullum saeculum magnis ingeniis clausum est - Seneca
“No generation is closed to great talents.”

211. Puri sermonis amator - Terence
“A lover of pure speech.”

212. Nullus est liber tam malus ut non aliqua parte prosit - Pliny the Younger
“There is no book so bad that it is not profitable on some part.”

213. Occasio aegre offertur, facile amittitur - Publius Syrus
“Opportunity is offered with difficulty, lost with ease.”

214. Quam bene vivas refert, non quam diu - Seneca
“The important thing isn’t how long you live, but how well you live.”

215. Omnes aequo animo parent ubi digni imperant - Syrus
“All men cheerfully obey where worthy men rule.”

216. Quam se ipse amans-sine rivali! - Cicero
“Himself loving himself so much - without a rival!"

217. Omnes una manet nox - Horace
“The same night awaits us all.”

218. Quemadmoeum gladis nemeinum occidit, occidentis telum est - Seneca
“A sword is never a killer, it’s a tool in a killer’s hand.”

219. Omnes vulnerant, ultima necat - Unknown
“All (hours) wound, the last kills.”

220. Qui desiderat pacem, praeparet bellum - Vegetius
“Let him who wishes for peace prepare for war.”

221. Omnia iam fient quae posse negabam - Ovid
“Everything which I used to say could not happen will happen now.”

222. Qui multum habet, plus cupit - Seneca
“He who has much desires more.”

223. Omnia mea mecum porto - Cicero
“All that is mine, I carry with me.”

224. Qui non est hodie cras minus aptus erit - Ovid
“He who is not prepared today will be less so tomorrow.”

225. Omnia vincit amor, et nos cedamus amori - Virgil
“Love conquers all things; let us too surrender to love.”

226. Qui omnes insidias timet in nullas incidit - Pubilius Syrus
“He who fears every ambush falls into none.”

227. Omnium rerum principia parva sunt - Cicero
“Everything has a small beginning.”

228. Quid rides? Mutato nomine de te fabula narratur - Horace
“What are you laughing at? Just change the name and the joke’s on you.”

229. Pars maior lacrimas ridet et intus habet - Martialis
“You smile at your tears but have them in your heart.”

230. Quod bonum, felix faustumque sit! - Cicero
“May it be good, fortunate, and prosperous.”

231. Pecunia non olet - Vespasianus
“Money has no smell. Money doesn’t stink.”

232. Quod differtur, non aufertur - Sir Thomas More
“That which is postponed is not dropped. Inevitable is yet to happen.”

233. Per varios usus artem experientia fecit - Manilius
“Through different exercises practices has brought skill.”

234. Quos amor verus tenuit, tenebit - Seneca
“True love will hold on to those whom it has held.”

235. Pede poena claudo - Horace
“Punishment comes limping. Retribution comes slowly, but surely.”

236. Relata refero - Herodotos
“I tell what I have been told.”

237. Perfer et obdura; dolor hic tibi proderit olim - Ovid
“Be patient and tough; someday this pain will be useful to you.”

238. Periculum in mora - Livy
“There is danger in delay.”

239. Rem tene, verba sequentur - Cato Senior
“Keep to the subject and the words will follow.”

240. Perpetuo vincit qui utitur clementia - Syrus
“He is forever victor who employs clemency.”

241. Respice post te, mortalem te esse memento - Tertuillianus
“Look around you, remember that you are mortal.”

242. Pessimus inimicorum genus, laudantes - Tacitus
“The worst kind of enemies, those who can praise.”

243. Philosophum non facit barba! - Plutarch
“The beard does not define a philosopher.”

245. Ridentem dicere verum quid vetat? - Horace
“What forbids a laughing man from telling the truth?"

246. Potius sero quam numquam- Livy
“It’s better late than never.”

247. Probae esti in segetum sunt deteriorem datae fruges, tamen ipsae suaptae enitent - Accius
“A good seed, planted even in poor soil, will bear rich fruit by its own nature.”

248. Nullum est iam dictum quod non dictum sit prius - Terence
“Nothing is said that hasn’t been said before.”

249. Saepe creat molles aspera spina rosas - Ovid
“Often the prickly thorn produces tender roses.”

250. Cacoethes scribendi - Juvenal
“An insatiable urge to write.”

Featured in Education