List of Latin proverbs

From Academic Kids

The following is a partial list of Latin and Roman proverbs and sayings, in alphabetical order, with English translations. This list contains Latin proverbs or sayings where we have more information about them than merely their literal meaning. Those sayings without additional information best belong at the relevant Wikiquote page.
For shorter phrases, see: List of Latin phrases.

Contents: Top - 0-9 A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


  • A mari usque ad mare — "From sea to sea," motto of Canada.
  • Acta non verba — "Actions, not words," motto of the United States Merchant Marine
  • Ad astra — "To the stars," title of the magazine published by the National Space Society.
  • Ad astra per aspera — "To the stars through difficulties," motto of Kansas. (More frequently as per aspera ad astra.)
  • Ars gratia artis — "Art for art's sake," motto of Metro Goldwin Mayer, made into Latin from Baudelaire's "L'art pour l'art".
  • Ad vitam eternam — "for the eternal life"
  • Ars longa, vita brevis. — "Art is long, life is short." The Latin translation by Horace of a phrase from Hippocrates, often used out of context. The art referred to in the original aphorism was the craft of medicine, which took a lifetime to acquire.
  • Audi alteram partem — "Hear the other side" (a legal principle of fairness).


  • Beati pauperes spiritu — "Lucky are those of a poor spirit" (Vulgate, Matthew 5:3)
  • Boni pastoris est tondere pecus, non deglubere. — "A good shepherd shears his sheep, he doesn't flay them" (Tiberius to his regional commanders) i.e. don't tax the populace excessively



  • De minimis non curat praetor (or rex or lex) — "The authority" (or "king", or "law") "does not care about trivial things."
  • Deliriant isti Romani. — "They are mad, those Romans" — Ren Goscinny, Asterix and Obelix comic
  • Deo Vindice — "[With] God as [our] protector" — motto of the Confederate States of America.
  • Deus vult! — "God wills it!" — slogan of the Crusades.
  • Diem perdidi — "I lost the day" — Emperor Titus, passed down in Suetonius's biography (8).
  • Divide et impera — "Divide and rule" — Louis XI; adopted by Machiavelli.
  • Dominus Illuminatio Mea — "The Lord is my light" — motto of Oxford University.
  • Do ut des — "I give that you may give" — Often said or written by sacrifices. I "give" and I expect something back from the gods.
  • Draco dormiens numquam titillandus — "Never tickle a sleeping dragon" — Motto of Hogwarts School in the Harry Potter novels by J. K. Rowling.
  • Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori — "It is sweet and honorable to die for the fatherland." — Horace, Odes III, 2, 13, frequently quoted, notably in the poem Dulce Et Decorum Est by Wilfred Owen.


  • Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem — "Entities should not be multiplied beyond necessity." Ockham's Razor.
  • Errare humanum est. Perseverare diabolicum. — "To err is human. To repeat error is of the Devil." (Seneca)
  • Ex astris, Scientia — "From the stars, Knowledge" (the motto of the Apollo 13 Mission, later becomes the motto of Starfleet Academy in Star Trek)
  • Ex oriente lux — "From the East [comes] the light [i.e. culture]"
  • Ex nihilo nihil fit — "Nothing comes from nothing" (you need to work for something; also the Conservation Law in philosophy and modern science). (Lucretius)
  • Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus — "Outside the Church [there is] No Salvation" (a disputed thesis of Roman Catholic theology).


  • Festina lente ! — "Make haste slowly" (i.e. proceed quickly but with caution, a motto of Augustus Caesar).
  • Fiat justitia et pereat mundus — "Let justice be done, though the world perish" (Ferdinand I)


  • Gutta cavat lapidem. — "constant dropping wears the stone" (Ovid, Epistulae ex Ponto IV, 10, 5).


  • Hannibal ante portas. — "Hannibal before the gates," i.e. wasting time while the enemy is already here.
  • Historia vitae magistra. — "History is the master of life" (Cicero, Tusculanas, 2, 16)
  • Homo sum, humani a mi nihil alienum puto — "I am human, nothing human is alien to me" i.e. respect different cultures. Terence
  • Hypotheses non fingo. — "I feign no hypotheses" (I do not assert that any hypotheses are true). Newton, Principia


  • Iacta alea est. — "the die is cast" (Julius Caesar; see note under Rubicon)
  • Igne natura renovatur integra (INRI) — "Through fire nature is reborn whole"; an alchemical aphorism.
  • In hoc signo vinces — "By this sign you will conquer" (Constantine's vision before the Battle of Milvian Bridge).
  • In necessariis unitas, in dubiis libertas, in omnibus caritas — "In necessary things unity, in doubtful things liberty, in all things charity" (often misattributed to St Augustine).
  • Iura novat curia. — "The law is known to the court." Legal principle (e.g. in Germany) that says lawyers are not to argue the law because that is the office of the court.
  • Inter arma enim silent leges. — "In times of war the law falls silent" Used by Cicero in Julius Caesar to describe the Rome that thought Caesar could do no wrong, even though he committed a heinous crime. Also used in the Star Trek DS9 episode of the same name to justify Admiral William Ross' decision to assist Agent Sloan from Section 31 in destabilising the Romulan Senate.



  • Labor omnia vincit. — "Work conquers all things." Motto of the State of Oklahoma
  • Lucus a non lucendo — "The word for grove is lucus because it is not light [non lucet] in a grove." Used as an example of absurd etymology.


  • Memento mori. — "Remember your mortality." Also, ironically, "Remember to die." it is the motto of the Friars of Trappa.
  • Mens sana in corpore sano — "Healthy mind in healthy body." (Usually understood as "a healthy mind requires a healthy body", but actually Orandum est ut sit mens sana in corpore sano, "One prays that there is a healthy mind in (that) healthy body." Juvenal, Satires 10, 356). See also ASICS.
  • Mens agitat molem — "The mind moves the mountain" (The motto of the University of Oregon and the Eindhoven University of Technology).
  • Morituri te salutant — "Those who are doomed to die greet you" (traditional greeting of the gladiators prior to battle; passed on by Suetonius, Claudius 21).
  • Mundus vult decipi — "The world wants to be deceived."


  • Natura non contristur; "Nature isn't sentimental."
  • Natura non facit saltum, ita nec lex. — "Nature makes no leaps, and neither does the law". (IEPS ( elaborates)
  • Navigare necesse est, vivere non est necesse. — "To sail is necessary, to live is not necessary," Attributed by Plutarch to Gnaeus Pompeius who, during a severe storm, commanded sailors to bring food from Africa to Rome
  • Non bis in idem. — "Not twice in the same (matter)." Legal principle forbidding Double jeopardy.
  • Non olet — "It [money] doesn't smell" (according to Suetonius, Emperor Vespasian was challenged by his son Titus for taxing the public lavatories, the emperor held up a coin before his son and asked whether it smelled)
  • Nosce te ipsum! — "Know thyself!" (Cicero, from the Greek gnothi seauton, on the Temple of Apollo at Delphi). See also: Temet nosce





  • Quem di diligunt, adulescens moritur — "Whom the gods love dies young" (Plautus, Bacchides, IV, 7, 18). In the comic play, a sarcastic servant says this to his aging master. The rest of the sentence reads: dum valet, sentit, sapit, "while he is full of health, perception and judgement."
  • Quia suam uxorem etiam suspiciore vacare vellet. — "Caesar's wife may not be suspected" (Plutarch, Caesar 10) The rhetorian Clodius was having an affair with Caesar's second wife, Pompeia. At a party attended by Pompeia Clodius arrived in disguise but was caught. In the following trial, Caesar claimed that nothing wrong had happened, but he still had to divorce her.
  • Quod licet Iovi, non licet bovi — "What is permitted to Jupiter is not permitted to the ox"
  • Quod natura non dat Salmantica non praestat. —"What nature does not provide, Salamanca does not add".



  • Salus populi suprema lex esto — "Let the welfare of the people be the supreme law" (motto of the U.S. state of Missouri).
  • Sapere aude — "Dare to be wise."
  • Semper Fidelis — "Always Faithful" (motto for the U.S. Marine Corps)
  • Semper Paratus — "Always Prepared" (motto for the U.S. Coast Guard)
  • Si quaeris peninsulam amoenam circumspice — "If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you" (the motto of the U.S. state of Michigan).
  • Si vis pacem, para bellum. — "If you want peace, prepare for war." (Vegetius, Epitoma rei militaris) origin of the name parabellum for some ammunition and firearms, e.g. Luger parabellum
  • Sic gorgiamus allos subjectatos nunc — "We gladly feast on those who would subdue us" (motto of The Addams Family).
  • Sic semper tyrannis — "Thus always to tyrants" (motto of the U.S. state of Virginia; attributed to assassin Brutus, perhaps John Wilkes Booth also).
  • Sic transit gloria mundi — "Thus passes the glory of the world." In Bible; also, during papal coronations, a barefoot monk interrupts the procession three times, holding a burning tow, and after it goes out says "Pater sancte (Holy Father), sic transit gloria mundi" — to remind the new Pope that, despite the grand procession, he is still a mortal man.
  • Similia similibus curantur. — "Like cures like" (Samuel Hahnemann, founder of homeopathy).
  • Sutor, ne ultra crepidam! — "Cobbler, no further than the sandal!" I.e. don't offer your opinion on things that are outside your competence. It is said that Greek painter Apelles once asked the advice of a cobbler on how to render the sandals of a soldier he was painting. When the cobbler started offering advice on other parts of the painting, Apelles rebuked him with this phrase (but in Greek).


  • Temet nosce — "Know yourself" (from the Greek gnothi seauton, on the Temple of Apollo at Delphi). See also: Nosce te ipsum!
  • Tempora mutantur et nos mutamur in illis. — "Times are changing, and we change in them." (John Owen)
  • Teneo te, Africa! — "I have you, Africa!" Suetonius attributes this to Julius Caesar, when Caesar was on the African coast.
  • Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes — "I fear the Danaens [the Greeks] even if they bring presents" (Virgil, neis, 2, 49) Uttered by Laocon as he warns his fellow Trojans against accepting the Trojan Horse.
  • Tu quoque Brute filii mihi? — "Even you Brutus, my son?" Julius Caesar at the 15th March after being wounded at death. See Et tu, Brute.


  • Una salus victis nullam sperare salutem. — "The only safety for the defeated is to expect no safety." From Vergil, Aeneid II, 354.
  • Ubi dubium, ibi libertas — "Where there is doubt, there is freedom." Anon.


  • Vae Victis — "Woe to the conquered." Attributed by Livy to the chief of the Gauls as they sacked Rome in 390 BC.
  • Veni Vidi Vici — "I came, I saw, I conquered." Message sent to the Senate by Julius Caesar after defeating Pharnaces in 47 BCE
  • Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis. — "You know how to win victory, Hannibal, you do not how to use it." According to Livy a cavalry colonel told Hannibal this after the victory at Cannae in 216 BC, meaning that Hannibal should have marched on Rome directly
  • Victrix causa diis placuit sed victa Catoni — "The victorious cause was pleasing to the Gods, but the lost cause to Cato" (Lucanus, Pharsalia 1, 128) (Dedication on the south side of the Confederate Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery)
  • Vox Populi, Vox Dei — "The voice of people is the voice of God"

Mock Latin

  • Nil illegitimi carborundum. or Illegitimi Non Carborundumdog Latin (i.e. not real Latin) for "Do not let the bastards wear you down." (Carborundum is a commercial abrasive).
  • Semper ubi sub ubi — "Always wear underwear."

See also

it:Locuzioni latine pl:Sentencje aciskie ro:Proverbe latine nl:Lijst van Latijnse spreekwoorden sl:Latinski izreki sr:Латински цитати sv:Lista ver latinska ordsprk och talestt


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