Breves - Short Phrases
Praecepti - Mottoes
- by Johanna Sundberg

Ab ovo usque ad mala.
From the egg right to the apple (i.e. from the beginning to the end).
(Horace, Ars poetica)
Accipere quam facere praestat injuriam.
It is better to suffer an injustice than to do an injustice.
(Cicero, Tusculanae disputationes)
Ad nocendum potentes sumus.
We have the power to harm.
(Seneca, De ira)
Aliena nobis, nostra plus aliis placent.
We like other people's (things) the best, others like ours.
(Publilius Syrus)
Aliis si licet, tibi non licet.
Even though it is permitted for others, it isn't permitted for you.
(Terence, Heautontimorumenos. Cf. quod licet Iovi, non licet bovi.)
Amicus certus in re incerta cernitur.
A friend in need is a friend indeed.
(Ennius, quoted by Cicero.)
Amicus verus est rara avis.
A true friend is a rare bird.
Amor vincit omnia et nos cedamus amori.
Love conquers all and let us yield to love.
(Vergil, Eclogae)
Aquila non captat muscas.
The eagle doesn't capture flies.
Ars longa, vita brevis.
Art is long, life is short.
(Seneca, De brevitate vitae)
Audentes fortuna iuvat.
Fortune favours the brave.
(Vergil, Aenis)
Ave, imperator, morituri te salutant.
Hail, emperor, those who will die salute you.
(Suetonius, Vitae Caesarum, Claudius. The fighters' greeting to the emperor before gladiatorial games.)
Beneficium accipere libertatem est vendere.
To accept a favour is to sell freedom.
(Publilius Syrus)
Bis dat qui cito dat.
He gives twice, who gives promptly.
(Publilius Syrus)
Brevis ipsa vita est sed malis fit longior.
Our life is short but is made longer by misfortunes.
(Publilius Syrus)
Canis timidus vehementius latrat quam mordet.
A timid dog barks more violently than it bites.
(Curtius Rufus)
Carpe diem!
Seize the day!
(Horace, Carmina)
Caveat emptor.
Let the buyer beware.
Cave canem!
Beware of the dog!
(Inscription at the entry of Roman houses.)
Cogito, ergo sum.
I think, therefore I am.
(René Descartes, Discours de la méthode)
Consuetudinis magna vis est.
The force of habit is great.
(Cicero, Tusculanae disputationes.)
Certum est, quia impossibile.
It is certain, because it is impossible.
(Tertullianus, De carne Christi. Later in the form Credo, quia absurdum -- I believe, although it is absurd.)
Cogitationis poenam nemo patitur.
Nobody should be punished for his thoughts.
(Corpus Iuris Civilis. Cf. liberae sunt nostrae cogitationes.)
Commodum ex iniuria sua nemo habere debet.
No person ought to have advantage from his own wrong.
Concordia parvae res crescunt, discordia maximae dilabuntur.
Through unity the small thing grows, through disunity the largest thing crumbles.
(Sallust, Jugurtha)
Consuetudo quasi altera natura.
Habit is our second nature.
(Cicero, De finibus)
Contraria contrariis curantur.
The opposite is cured with the opposite.
Corruptissima re publica plurimae leges.
The more corrupt the state is, the more numerous are the laws.
(Tacitus, Annales)
Credo certe ne cras.
I believe with certainty that there is no tomorrow.
(A famous tomb inscription.)
Crescit amor nummi, quantum ipsa pecunia crevit.
The love of wealth grows as the wealth itself grew.
(Juvenalis, Saturae)
Cui bono?
To whose profit?
(Cicero, Pro Milone)
Cui peccare licet peccat minus.
One who is allowed to sin, sins less.
(Ovid, Amores)
Cuiusvis hominis est errare, nullius nisi insipientis in errore perseverare.
Anybody can err, but only the fool persists in his fault.
(Cicero, Philippicae orationes. Often quoted errare humanum est, ignoscere divinum - to err is human, to forgive divine.)
Cum tacent, clamant.
When they are silent, they cry out.
(Cicero, In Catalinam)
De duobus malis minus est semper eligendum.
One must always choose the lesser of two evils.
(Thomas a Kempis)
De gustibus non est disputandum.
That is a matter of taste.
De mortuis nihil nisi bene.
Nothing but good about the dead.
(Cheilon of Sparta; quoted by Horace)
De nihilo nihil.
Nothing comes from nothing.
(Lucretius, De rerum natura)
Deus nobiscum, quis contra?
If God is for us, who can be against us?
(Versio Vulgata, Rom. 8:31)
Dictum, factum.
Said and done.
(Terence, Heautontimorumenos)
Divide et impera.
Divide and rule.
(Louis XI; adopted by Macchiavelli)
Docendo discimus.
We learn by teaching.
(After Seneca Philosophus, homines dum docent discunt - men learn while they teach.)
Dubitando ad veritatem venimus.
We arrive at the truth being sceptical.
(Pierre Abélard, Sic et non?)
Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori.
It is sweet and glorious to die for one's country.
(Horace, Carmina)
Dum inter homines sumus, colamus humanitatem.
As long as we are among humans, let us be humane.
(Seneca, De ira)
Dum spiro, spero.
While I breathe, I hope.
(Cicero, Epistulae ad Atticum)
Duo cum faciunt idem, non est idem.
When two do the same thing, it isn't the same (i.e. one can get away with doing something while another cannot).
(Terence, Adelphoe. Cf. quod licet Iovi, non licet bovi.)
Et tu, Brute.
And you, my Brutus.
(Julius Caesar's words when he saw his favourite, Brutus, among his assassins. In Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, the words are in Latin, but they probably were in Greek - if ever said.)
Exitus acta probat.
The result validates the deeds.
(Ovid, Heroides. Cf. finis coronat opus.)
Ex oriente lux, ex occidente lex.
From the east the light, from the west the law.
Extra ecclesiam nulla salus.
Outside the Church, no salvation.
(A principle in Catholic theology.)
Faber est suae quisque fortunae.
Every man is the artisan of his own fortune.
(Appius Claudius Caecus)
Facilius est multa facere quam diu.
It is easier to do many things than to do one for a long time.
(Quintilianus, Institutio oratoria)
Factum est illud, fieri infectum non potest.
Done is done, it cannot be made undone.
(Plautus, Aulularia)
Fama crescit eundo.
The rumour grows as it goes.
(N/A; cf. Vergil, Aenis)
Fama volat.
The rumour has wings.
(Vergil, Aenis)
Finis coronat opus.
The ending crowns the work.
(N/A. Cf. exitus acta probat.)
Gutta cavat lapidem, non vi sed saepe cadendo.
The drop excavates the stone, not with force but by falling often.
(Ovid, Ex Ponto)
Hoc coactus sum.
To this, I am forced and compelled.
(According to legend, a secret reservation written by bishop Hans Brask of Linköping and hidden under his seal on a document he was reluctant to sign.)
Homo homini lupus.
Man is man's wolf.
(Plautus, Asinaria)
Homo proponit, sed Deus disponit.
Man proposes, God disposes.
(Thomas a Kempis)
Honores mutant mores.
The honours change the customs. (Power corrupts.)
Horas non numero nisi serenas.
I count only the bright hours.
(Inscription on ancient sundials.)
Ille dolet vere, qui sine teste dolet.
He mourns honestly who mourns without witnesses.
(Martialis, Epigrammaton liber)
Illis quorum meruere labores
For them whose labours have showed them deserving
(Quote by Propertius; the inscription on a Swedish medal.)
Impossibilium nulla obligatio est.
Nobody has any obligation to the impossible.
(Corpus Iuris Civilis: Digesta)
In dubiis non est agendum.
In dubious cases, you should not act.
In hoc signo vinces.
In this sign, you will be victorious.
(Acc. to Eusebios, words next to a cross in the sky seen by emperor Constantine the Great before a battle.)
Iniqua nunquam regna perpetuo manent.
Stern masters do not reign long.
(Seneca Philosophus, Medea)
Iniuria non excusat iniuriam.
One wrong does not justify another.
Inquietum est cor nostrum, donec requiescat in te.
Our heart is anxious until it finds peace in you.
(St. Augustine, Confessiones)
Inter pocula
Between the cups
(Vergil, Georgica)
Inventas vitam iuvat excoluisse per artes.
Let us improve life through science and art.
(Inscription on the Nobel Prize winner medals. After Vergil, Aenis.)
In vino veritas
In wine is truth
Ipsa scientia potestas est.
Knowledge is power.
(Roger Bacon)
Ira furor brevis est.
Anger is a brief insanity.
(Horace, Epistulae)
Labor omnia vincit.
Labour conquers everything.
(Vergil, Georgica)
Leges bonae ex malis moribus procreantur.
Good laws are born of bad customs.
(Macrobius, Saturnalia)
Liberae sunt nostrae cogitationes.
Our thoughts are free.
(Cicero, Pro Milone. Cf. Cogitationis poenam nemo patitur.)
Locus enim est principum generationis rerum.
For place is the origin of things.
(Roger Bacon)
Longum iter est per praecepta, breve et efficax per exempla.
The way is made long through rules, but short and effective through examples.
(Seneca Philosophus, Epistulae)
Lupus in fabula
The wolf in the tale (i.e. speak of the wolf, and he will come)
(Terence, Adelphoe)
Magna vis veritatis quae facile se per se ipsa defendat.
Great is the power of truth that can easily defend itself with its own force.
Margaritas ante porcos iacere.
Throw pearls before the swines.
(Versio Vulgata, Matt. 7:6)
Mater artium necessitas.
Necessity is the mother of invention.
Medice, cura te ipsum!
Physician, heal thyself!
(Versio Vulgata, Luc. 4:23)
Medicus curat, natura sanat.
The physician treats, nature cures.
Medio tutissimus ibis.
You will go safest in the middle.
(Ovid, Metamorphoses)
Melius est praevenire quam praeveniri.
Better to forestall than to be forestalled.
Melius frangi quam flecti.
It is better to break than to bend.
Mendacem memorem esse oportet.
A liar needs a good memory.
(Quintilianus, De institutione oratoria)
Mens sana in corpore sano.
A sound mind in a sound body.
(Juvenalis, Saturae)
Mors ultima linea rerum est.
Death is everything's final limit.
(Horace, Epistulae)
Mundus vult decipi, ergo decipiatur.
The world wants to be betrayed, therefore let it be betrayed.
(Sebastian Brant)
Necessitatis non habet legem.
Necessity knows no law.
Nemo nascitur artifex.
Nobody is born an artist.
Ne quid nimis.
Nothing in excess.
(Terence, Andria)
Nihil agere delectat.
It is pleasant to do nothing.
(Cicero, De oratore)
Nihil est ab omni parte beatum.
Nothing is good in every part.
(Horace, Carmina)
Nihil est incertius volgo.
Nothing is more uncertain than the (favour of the) crowd.
(Cicero, Pro Murena)
Nihil est miserum nisi cum putes.
Nothing is unfortunate if you don't consider it unfortunate.
(Boethius, De consolatione philosohiae)
Nihil tam munitum quod non expugnari pecunia possit.
No fort is so strong that it cannot be taken with money.
(Cicero, In Verrem)
Noli equi dentes inspicere donati.
Do not look a gift horse in the mouth.
(St. Jerome, Commentarius in epistulam Pauli ad Ephesos)
Noli me tangere!
Don't touch me!
(Versio Vulgata, Ioh. 20:17)
Non mortem timemus, sed cogitationem mortis.
We do not fear death, but the thought of death.
(Seneca, Epistulae)
Non multa, sed multum.
Not many, but much.
(Meaning, not quantity but quality. Plinius Iunior, Epistulae)
Non omne quod licet honestum est.
Not everything that is permitted is honest.
(Corpus Iuris Civilis: Digesta)
Non omne quod nitet aurum est.
Not all that glitters is gold.
Non omnia possumus omne.
Everybody cannot do everything.
(Vergil, Eclogae)
Non scholae sed vitae discimus.
We do not learn for school, but for life.
(Seneca, Epistulae)
Non ut edam vivo, sed vivam edo.
I do not live to eat, but eat to live.
(Quintilianus, Instituitio oratoria)
Nosce te ipsum.
Know thyself
(Inscription at the temple of Apollo in Delphi.)
Nulla regula sine exceptione.
No rule without exception.
Nulla res carius constat quam quae precibus empta est.
Nothing is so expensive as that which you have bought with pleas.
(Seneca Philosophus, De beneficiis)
Nullum est iam dictum quod non dictum sit prius.
Nothing is said that hasn't been said before.
(Terence, Eunuchus)
Numquam non paratus.
Never unprepared.
Numquam se minus solum quam cum solus esset.
You are never so little alone as when you are alone.
(Cicero, De officiis)
Oderint, dum metuant.
May they hate me, if only they fear me.
(Suetonius, Vitae Caesarum, Caligula)
Omnes una manet nox.
The same night awaits us all.
(Horace, Carmina)
Omnia mea mecum porto.
All that is mine, I carry with me.
(Cicero, Paradoxa)
Omnia mutantur, nihil interit.
Everything changes, nothing perishes.
(Ovid, Metamorphoses)
Omnia vincit amor; et nos cedamus amori.
Love conquers all things; let us too surrender to love.
(Vergil, Eclogae)
Omnibus omnia.
Everything for everybody.
(Versio Vulgata, 1 Cor. 9:22)
Omnium rerum principia parva sunt.
Everything has a small beginning.
(Cicero, De finibus)
Optima enim est legum interpres consuetudo.
The best interpreter of the law, is practise.
(Corpus Iuris Civilis: Digesta)
Pluralitas non est ponenda sine neccesitate.
Entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily.
(Principle known as Occam's Razor, used for example in physics.)
Potius sero quam numquam.
It's better late than never.
(Livy, Ab urbe condita)
Primum est non nocere.
First of all, do no harm.
(Hippocrates; The maxim has become an ethical guiding principle in medicine.)
Primus inter pares.
First among equals.
(Used about someone who is the first in a group without having any authority over his/her colleagues.)
Promoveatur ut amoveatur.
Let him be promoted to get him out of the way.
Proximus sum egomet mihi.
I am closest to myself. (Charity begins at home.)
(Terence, Andria)
Qualis rex, talis grex.
Like master, like man.
Quam bene vivas refert, non quam diu.
The important thing isn't how long you live, but how well you live.
(Seneca Philosophus, Epistulae)
Quem di diligunt adolescens moritur.
He whom the gods love dies young.
(Plautus, Bacchides)
Qui desiderat pacem, praeparet bellum.
Let him who wishes for peace prepare for war.
(Vegetius. Also quoted si vis pacem, para bellum -- if you desire peace, prepare for war.)
Qui dormit, non peccat.
One who sleeps doesn't sin.
Quid rides? Mutato nomine de te fabula narratur.
Why are you laughing? Change the name and the story is about you.
(Horace, Satirae)
Qui nimium probat, nihil probat.
One who proves too much, proves nothing.
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
Who is to guard the guards themselves?
(Iuvenalis, Saturae)
Qui tacet, consentit
Silence gives consent.
Quod scripsi, scripsi.
What I have written, I have written.
(Versio Vulgata, Ioh. 19:22)
Quo vadis, Domine?
Where are you going, Lord?
(Question said to be asked by Peter when he, fleeing the Rome and the persecutions of the Christians by emperor Nero, met Jesus at the city gates.)
Res severa est verum gaudium.
True joy is a serious thing.
(Seneca Philosophus, Epistulae)
Salus populi suprema lex esto.
Let the welfare of the people be the supreme law.
(Cicero, De legibus
Semper idem.
Always the same.
(Cicero, Tusculanae disputationes. Said to have been Xantippa's words about Socrates' facial expression.)
Serva me, servabo te.
Save me and I will save you.
(Petronius Arbiter)
Sic transit gloria mundi.
Thus departs the glory of the world.
(Words said when a newly elected pope entered St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.)
Silent enim leges inter arma.
Laws are silent in times of war.
(Cicero, Pro Milone.)
Si vis amari, ama.
If you want to be loved, love
(Seneca Philosophus, Epistulae)
S.P.Q.R. (Senatus Populusque Romanus)
The senate and the Roman people
(Abbreviation used on banners and such in ancient Rome to show the world the unity between the Roman people and its rulers. Still officially used in Rome.)
Stultum est timere quod vitare non potes.
It is foolish to fear what you cannot avoid.
Summum ius, summa iniuria.
The extreme law is the greatest injustice.
(Cicero, De officiis)
Suos cuique mos.
Everyone has his customs.
(Gellius, Noctes Atticae)
Tamdiu discendum est, quamdiu vivas.
We should learn as long as we may live. (We live and learn.)
(Seneca Philosophus, Epistulae)
Tempora mutantur, nos et mutamur in illis.
The times change, and we change with them.
(John Owen)
Ubi bene, ibi patria.
Where one is happy, there is one's homeland.
(Pacuvius, Teucer)
Unus multorum.
One of many.
(Horace, Satirae)
Urbi et orbi.
To the city (Rome) and the world.
(Words usually pronounced by the Pope during his blessing, to make it clear that they will spread to all the universe.)
Ut desint vires, tamen est laudanda voluntas.
Although the power is lacking, the will is commendable.
(Ovid, Ex Ponto)
Ut sementem feceris, ita metes.
As you sow, so shall you reap.
(Cicero, De oratore.)
Vae victis!
Woe to the conquered!
(Livy, Praefatio)
Veni, vidi, vici.
I came, I saw, I conquered.
(Written by Julius Caesar about a rapid victory.)
Verba volant, (littera) scripta manet.
Words fly away, the written (letter) remains.
Vestis virum reddit.
The clothes make the man.
Vitiis nemo sine nascitur.
No-one is born without faults.
(Horace, Satirae)
Vivere est cogitare.
To live is to think.
(Cicero, Tusculanae disputationes)
Vox populi, vox Dei.
The voice of the people is the voice of God.
(From Homer, The Odyssey)
Vulnerant omnes,ultima necat.
All of them wound, the last one kills.
(In reference to the hours; old inscription found on clocks in churches and public spaces.)

Last update: August 3, 1999 by Johanna Sundberg

ab initio
from the beginning
ab ovo
from the egg
(i.e. from the very beginning. Cf. Ab ovo usque ad mala.)
ad depositum
for (safe)keeping
ad finem
to the end
ad hoc
to this
(i.e. for a particular use)
ad hominem
to the person
(i.e. relating to a particular person)
ad honorem
for the sake of glory
ad infinitum
witout limit
ad interim
for the meantime
ad lib (abbr. of ad libitum)
according to pleasure
(i.e. improvised)
ad litem
appointed for a lawsuit
ad literam
to the letter
ad mandatum
by direction
ad manus proprias
in one's own hands
ad nauseam
to sickness
(i.e. to an excessive degree)
ad personam
to the person, personal
ad protocollum
to the record
ad referendum
for further consideration
ad rem
to the matter
ad tempus
in time
ad ultimum
at last
ad valorem
according to the value
(i.e. of taxes, in proportion to the estimated value of the goods)
alma mater
bounteous mother
(A figurative name for a university, sometimes used jokingly.)
conferre (Cf.)
curriculum vitae (CV)
course of life
de facto
in fact
(i.e. in fact, whether by right or not)
de jure
by right
dramatis personae
the characters of the drama
eiusdem anni (e.a.)
in/during the same year
et alii/alia (et al.)
and others
et cetera (etc.)
and so on
ex actis
from the files
(i.e. according to document)
ex cathedra
from the (teacher's) chair
(i.e. with full authority, esp. of papal pronouncement)
ex gratia
from favour
(i.e. as a favour rather than from an obligation)
ex mandato
by direction
ex nihilo
out of nothing
ex officio
by virtue of one's office
ex parte
from the party
( the interest of one side only or of an interested outside party)
ex post facto
in the light of subsequent events
(i.e. with retorspective action or force)
ex tempore
from time
(i.e. immediately, without any preparation)
ex usu
from use
(i.e. according to custom)
exempli grata (e.g.)
for example
extra muros
outside the walls
(i.e. official)
id est (i.e.)
that is to say
in absentia
in one's absence
in abstracto
in itself, in general
in absurdum
to the absurd
in aeternum
in amplissima forma
in greatest shape
in blanco
in blank
in casu
in this case
in concreto
in particular
in corpore
in the body
(i.e. in full)
in duplo
in duplicate
in extenso
in full
(i.e. nonabridged)
in extremis
at the point of death
(or in great difficulties)
in flagrante delicto
in blazing crime
(i.e. in the very act of committing an offense, "red-handed")
in genere
in genereal
in infinitum
in loco
at this place
in loco parentis
in the place of a parent
(used of a teacher etc. responsible for children)
in manu
by hand
in medias res
into the midst of things
in memoriam
in memory of (a dead person)
in natura
in a natural way
(i.e. payment with goods instead of with money)
in nuce
in a nutshell
in perpetuum
in pleno
in full
in propria persona
in his/her own person
in re
in the matter of
in saecula saeculorum
for ever and ever
in situ
in its place
in spe be
(e.g. the bride to be)
in specie
in particular
in summa
in all
in statu populari
under guardianship
(or in a junior position at university, not having a degree)
in suspenso
in a suspended state
(i.e. indefinate)
in toto
in full
in usu
in frequent use
in usum
for use
in utero
in the womb
in vacuo
in a vacuum
in vitro
in glass
(i.e. taking place in a test-tube or other laboratory enviroment)
in vivo
in a living thing
(i.e. taking place in a living organism)
(i.e. below or further on in a book or writing)
infra dig (abbr. of infra dignitatem)
beneath one's dignity
inter alia
among other things
intra muros
within the walls
(i.e. unofficial)
lapsus calami
slip of the pen
lapsus linguae
slip of the tongue
lege artis
according to the rules (of the art)
modus operandi (abb. m.o.)
way of operating
(i.e. the particular way in which a person performs a task or action)
modus vivendi
way of living
(i.e. and arrangement whereby those in dispute can carry on pending a settlement)
nemine contradicente (nom.con)
with no one dissenting
nolens, volens
unwilling, willing
nolle prosequi
refuse to persue
(i.e. the relinquish by a plaintiff or prosecutor of all or part of a suit)
non compos mentis
not in one's right mind
non placet
it does not please
(a negative vote in a Church or assembly)
non possumus
we cannot
(i.e. a statement of inability to act in a matter)
non sequitur.
it doesn't follow.
(Used about a conclusion that doesn't logically follow from the premisses.)
per capita
by heads (i.e. for each person)
per fas et nefas
by right or wrong
(i.e. by any means necessary)
per se
by itself
peractis peragendi
when that which should be done has been done
persona non grata
a non-desirable person
(used about a diplomatic representative who is not acceptable to the government to which he or she is accredited.)
I shall appeal
post mortem
after death
prima facie
at first sight
primum mobile
first moving thing
(i.e. the central or most important source of motion or action)
pro haec vice
for this occasion (only)
quantum satis
qui pro quo
someone instead of someone else
(i.e. a mix-up or a mistake)
quid pro quo
something for something
(i.e. a thing given as compensation)
quod erat demonstrandum (Q E D)
Which was the thing to be proved
quod est
which is
quod vide (q.v.)
which see
(in cross-references etc.)
requiescat in pace (R.I.P.)
rest in peace
(i.e. used/spelt as written. Used to call the attention to, or confirming, the form of quoted or written words.)
sine die
without day
sine qua non
without which not
(i.e. an indispensable condition or qualification)
status quo
the state in which
(i.e. the existing state of affairs)
ut infra
like below
ut supra
like above