List of Latin phrases (N)

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This page lists English translations of notable Latin phrases, such as veni vidi vici and et cetera. Some of the phrases are themselves translations of Greek phrases, as Greek rhetoric and literature reached its peak centuries before the rise of ancient Rome.

This list covers the letter N. See List of Latin phrases for the main list.


N[edit]

Latin Translation Notes
nanos gigantum humeris insidentes Dwarfs standing on the shoulders of giants First recorded by John of Salisbury in the twelfth century and attributed to Bernard of Chartres. Also commonly known by the letters of Isaac Newton: "If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants".
nasciturus pro iam nato habetur, quotiens de commodis eius agitur The unborn is deemed to have been born to the extent that his own inheritance is concerned Refers to a situation where an unborn child is deemed to be entitled to certain inheritance rights.
natura abhorret a vacuo nature abhors vacuum Pseudo-explanation for why a liquid will climb up a tube to fill a vacuum, often given before the discovery of atmospheric pressure.
natura artis magistra Nature is the teacher of art The name of the zoo in the centre of Amsterdam; short: "Artis".
natura nihil frustra facit nature does nothing in vain Cf. Leucippus: "Everything that happens does so for a reason and of necessity."
natura non contristatur nature is not saddened That is, the natural world is not sentimental or compassionate.
natura non facit saltum ita nec lex nature does not make a leap, thus neither does the law Shortened form of "sicut natura nil facit per saltum ita nec lex" (just as nature does nothing by a leap, so neither does the law), referring to both nature and the legal system moving gradually.
natura non facit saltus nature makes no leaps A famous aphorism of Carl Linnaeus stating that all organisms bear relationships on all sides, their forms changing gradually from one species to the next. From Philosophia Botanica (1751).
natura valde simplex est et sibi consona Nature is exceedingly simple and harmonious with itself Sir Isaac Newton's famous quote, defining foundation of all modern sciences. Can be found in his Unpublished Scientific Papers of Isaac Newton: A selection from the Portsmouth Collection in the University Library, Cambridge, 1978 edition.
naturalia non sunt turpia What is natural is not dirty Based on Servius' commentary on Virgil's Georgics (3:96): "turpis non est quia per naturam venit."
naturam expellas furca, tamen usque recurret. You may drive out Nature with a pitchfork, yet she still will hurry back You must take the basic nature of something into account.
- Horace, Epistles, Book I, epistle iv, line 24.
navigare necesse est vivere non est necesse to sail is necessary; to live is not necessary Attributed by Plutarch to Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus, who, during a severe storm, commanded sailors to bring food from Africa to Rome.
ne plus ultra nothing more beyond Also nec plus ultra or non plus ultra. A descriptive phrase meaning the best or most extreme example of something. The Pillars of Hercules, for example, were literally the nec plus ultra of the ancient Mediterranean world. Holy Roman Emperor Charles V's heraldic emblem reversed this idea, using a depiction of this phrase inscribed on the Pillars—as plus ultra, without the negation. The Boston Musical Instrument Company engraved ne plus ultra on its instruments from 1869 to 1928 to signify that none were better.
Nec aspera terrent They are not terrified of the rough things They are not afraid of difficulties. Less literally "Difficulties be damned." Motto for 27th Infantry Regiment (United States) and the Duke of Lancaster's Regiment. Nec = not; aspera = rough ones/things; terrent = they terrify / do terrify / are terrifying.
nec dextrorsum, nec sinistrorsum Neither to the right nor to the left Do not get distracted. Motto for Bishop Cotton Boys' School and the Bishop Cotton Girls' School, both located in Bangalore, India.
nec spe, nec metu without hope, without fear
nec tamen consumebatur and yet it was not consumed Refers to the Burning Bush of Exodus 3:2. Motto of many Presbyterian churches throughout the world.
nec temere nec timide neither reckless nor timid Motto of the Dutch 11th Air Manoeuvre Brigade and the city of Gdańsk, Poland.
nec vi, nec clam, nec precario Without permission, without secrecy, without interruption The law of adverse possession.
neca eos omnes, deus suos agnoscet kill them all, God will know his own alternate rendition of Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius by Arnaud Amalric.
nemine contradicente (nem. con., N.C.D.) with no one speaking against Less literally, "without dissent". Used especially in committees, where a matter may be passed nem. con., or unanimously, or with unanimous consent.
nemo dat quod non habet no one gives what he does not have Thus, "none can pass better title than they have".
nemo est supra legis nobody is above the law
Nemo igitur vir magnus sine aliquo adflatu divino umquam fuit No great man ever existed who did not enjoy some portion of divine inspiration From Cicero's De Natura Deorum, Book 2, chapter LXVI, 167[1]
nemo iudex in causa sua no man shall be a judge in his own cause Legal principle that no individual can preside over a hearing in which he holds a specific interest or bias.
nemo malus felix peace visits not the guilty mind Also translated to "no rest for the wicked." Refers to the inherent psychological issues that plague bad/guilty people.
nemo me impune lacessit No man may "touch" me with impunity "No one attacks me with impunity". Motto of the Order of the Thistle, and consequently of Scotland, found stamped on the milled edge of certain British pound sterling coins. It is the motto of the Montressors in the Edgar Allan Poe short story "The Cask of Amontillado". Motto of the San Beda College Beta Sigma Fraternity.
nemo mortalium omnibus horis sapit No mortal is wise at all times The wisest may make mistakes.
nemo nisi per amicitiam cognoscitur No one learns except by friendship Used to imply that one must like a subject in order to study it.
nemo saltat sobrius Nobody dances sober The short and more common form of "Nemo enim fere saltat sobrius, nisi forte insanit", "Nobody dances sober, unless he is completely insane."
nemo tenetur se ipsum accusare no one is bound to accuse himself (the right to silence) A maxim banning mandatory self-incrimination. Near-synonymous with accusare nemo se debet nisi coram Deo. Similar phrases include: nemo tenetur armare adversarium contra se (no one is bound to arm an opponent against himself), meaning that a defendant is not obligated to in any way assist the prosecutor to his own detriment; nemo tenetur edere instrumenta contra se (no one is bound to produce documents against himself, meaning that a defendant is not obligated to provide materials to be used against himself (this is true in Roman law and has survived in modern criminal law, but no longer applies in modern civil law); and nemo tenere prodere se ipsum (no one is bound to betray himself), meaning that a defendant is not obligated to testify against himself.
nervos belli, pecuniam infinitam Endless money forms the sinews of war In war, it is essential to be able to purchase supplies and to pay troops (as Napoleon put it, "An army marches on its stomach").
nihil ad rem nothing to do with the point That is, in law, irrelevant and/or inconsequential.
nihil boni sine labore nothing achieved without hard work Motto of Palmerston North Boys' High School
nihil dicit he says nothing In law, a declination by a defendant to answer charges or put in a plea.
nihil in intellectu nisi prius in sensu nothing in the intellect unless first in sense The guiding principle of empiricism, and accepted in some form by Aristotle, Aquinas, Locke, Berkeley, and Hume. Leibniz, however, added nisi intellectus ipse (except the intellect itself).
nihil novi nothing of the new Or just "nothing new". The phrase exists in two versions: as nihil novi sub sole (nothing new under the sun), from the Vulgate, and as nihil novi nisi commune consensu (nothing new unless by the common consensus), a 1505 law of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth and one of the cornerstones of its Golden Liberty.
nihil obstat nothing prevents A notation, usually on a title page, indicating that a Roman Catholic censor has reviewed the book and found nothing objectionable to faith or morals in its content. See also imprimatur.
nihil sine Deo nothing without God Motto of the Kingdom of Romania, while ruled by the Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen dynasty (1878–1947).
nihil ultra nothing beyond Motto of St. Xavier's College, Calcutta
nil admirari be surprised at nothing Motto of the Fitzgibbon family. See John FitzGibbon, 1st Earl of Clare
nil desperandum nothing must be despaired at That is, "never despair".
Nil igitur mors est ad nos Death, therefore, is nothing to us From Lucretius' De rerum natura (On the Nature of Things), III.831
nil mortalibus ardui est nothing is impossible for humankind From Horace's Odes. Motto of Rathkeale College, New Zealand and Brunts School, England.
nil nisi bonum (about the dead say) nothing unless (it is) good Short for nil nisi bonum de mortuis dicere. That is, "Don't speak ill of anyone who has died". Also "Nil magnum nisi bonum" (nothing is great unless good), motto of St Catherine's School, Toorak, Pennant Hills High School and Petit Seminaire Higher Secondary School.
nil nisi malis terrori no terror, except to the bad Motto of The King's School, Macclesfield
nil per os, rarely non per os (n.p.o.) nothing through the mouth Medical shorthand indicating that oral foods and fluids should be withheld from the patient.
nil satis nisi optimum nothing [is] enough unless [it is] the best Motto of Everton F.C., residents of Goodison Park, Liverpool.
nil sine labore nothing without labour Motto of Fitzoy High School,Brisbane Grammar School, Brisbane Girls Grammar School, Greenwich Public School, Victoria School, Victoria Junior College, Baines High School, St Mungo's Academy and Heckmondwike Grammar School
nil sine numine nothing without the divine will Or "nothing without providence". State motto of Colorado, adopted in 1861. Probably derived from Virgil's Aeneid Book II, line 777, "non haec sine numine divum eveniunt" (these things do not come to pass without the will of Heaven). See also numen.
nil volentibus arduum Nothing [is] arduous for the willing Nothing is impossible for the willing
nisi Dominus frustra if not the Lord, [it is] in vain That is, "everything is in vain without God". Summarized from Psalm 127 (126 Vulgate), "nisi Dominus aedificaverit domum in vanum laboraverunt qui aedificant eam nisi Dominus custodierit civitatem frustra vigilavit qui custodit" (unless the Lord builds the house, they work on a useless thing who build it; unless the Lord guards the community, he keeps watch in vain who guards it). Motto of Edinburgh, St Thomas School, Kolkata and St. Stephen's Episcopal School.
nisi prius unless previously In England, a direction that a case be brought up to Westminster for trial before a single judge and jury. In the United States, a court where civil actions are tried by a single judge sitting with a jury, as distinguished from an appellate court.
nitimur in vetitum We strive for the forbidden From Ovid's Amores, III.4:17. It means that when we are denied of something, we will eagerly pursue the denied thing. Used by Friedrich Nietzsche in his Ecce Homo to indicate that his philosophy pursues what is forbidden to other philosophers.
nolens volens unwilling, willing That is, "whether unwillingly or willingly". Sometimes rendered volens nolens, aut nolens aut volens or nolentis volentis. Similar to willy-nilly, though that word is derived from Old English will-he nil-he ([whether] he will or [whether] he will not).
noli me tangere do not touch me Commonly translated "touch me not". According to the Gospel of John, this was said by Jesus to Mary Magdalene after his resurrection.
noli turbare circulos meos Do not disturb my circles! That is, "Don't upset my calculations!" Said by Archimedes to a Roman soldier who, despite having been given orders not to, killed Archimedes at the conquest of Syracuse, Sicily. The soldier was executed for his act.
"nolite te bastardes carborundorum"
(Dog Latin)
"Don't let the bastards grind you down From The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood — the protagonist (Offred) finds the phrase inscribed on the inside of her wardrobe. One of many variants of Illegitimi non carborundum.
nolle prosequi to be unwilling to prosecute A legal motion by a prosecutor or other plaintiff to drop legal charges, usually in exchange for a diversion program or out-of-court settlement.
nolo contendere I do not wish to contend That is, "no contest". A plea that can be entered on behalf of a defendant in a court that states that the accused doesn't admit guilt, but will accept punishment for a crime. Nolo contendere pleas cannot be used as evidence in another trial.
nomen dubium doubtful name A scientific name of unknown or doubtful application.
nomen est omen the name is a sign Thus, "true to its name".
nomen nescio (N.N.) I do not know the name Thus, the name or person in question is unknown.
nomen nudum naked name A purported scientific name that does not fulfill the proper formal criteria and therefore cannot be used unless it is subsequently proposed correctly.
non auro, sed ferro, recuperanda est patria Not gold, but iron redeems the native land According to some roman this sentence was said by Marcus Furius Camillus to Brennus, the chief of the Gauls, after he demanded more gold from the citizens of the recently sacked Rome in 390 BC.
non bene pro toto libertas venditur auro liberty is not well sold for all the gold Motto of Republic of Ragusa, inscribed over the gates of St. Lawrence Fortress. From Gualterus Anglicus's version of Aesop's fable "The Dog and the Wolf".
non bis in idem not twice in the same thing A legal principle forbidding double jeopardy.
non causa pro causa not the cause for the cause Also known as the "questionable cause" or "false cause". Refers to any logical fallacy where a cause is incorrectly identified.
non compos mentis not in control of the mind See compos mentis. Also rendered non compos sui (not in control of himself). Samuel Johnson, author of the first English dictionary, theorized that the word nincompoop may derive from this phrase.
non constat it is not certain Used to explain scientific phenomena and religious advocations, for example in medieval history, for rulers to issue a 'Non Constat' decree, banning the worship of a holy figure. In legal context, occasionally a backing for nulling information that was presented by an attorney. Without any tangible proof, Non constat information is difficult to argue for.
non ducor, duco I am not led; I lead Motto of São Paulo city, Brazil. See also pro Brasilia fiant eximia.
non extinguetur shall not be extinguished Motto of the Society of Antiquaries of London accompanying their Lamp of knowledge emblem
non facias malum ut inde fiat bonum you should not make evil in order that good may be made from it More simply, "don't do wrong to do right". The direct opposite of the phrase "the ends justify the means".
non impediti ratione cogitationis unencumbered by the thought process motto of radio show Car Talk
non in legendo sed in intelligendo leges consistunt the laws depend not on being read, but on being understood
non liquet it is not proven Also "it is not clear" or "it is not evident". A sometimes controversial decision handed down by a judge when they feel that the law is not complete.
non loqui sed facere not talk but action Motto of the University of Western Australia's Engineering faculty student society.
non mihi solum not for myself alone Motto of Anderson Junior College, Singapore.
non multa sed multum not quantity but quality Motto of the Daniel Pearl Magnet High School
Non nobis Domine Not to us (oh) Lord Christian hymn based on psalm 115.
non nobis nati 'Born not for ourselves' Motto of St Albans School (Hertfordshire)
non nobis solum not for ourselves alone Appears in Cicero's De Officiis Book 1:22 in the form non nobis solum nati sumus (we are not born for ourselves alone). Motto of Lower Canada College, Montreal and University College, Durham University, and Willamette University.
non obstante veredicto not standing in the way of a verdict A judgment notwithstanding verdict, a legal motion asking the court to reverse the jury's verdict on the grounds that the jury could not have reached such a verdict reasonably.
non olet it doesn't smell See pecunia non olet.
non omnis moriar I shall not all die "Not all of me will die", a phrase expressing the belief that a part of the speaker will survive beyond death.
non plus ultra nothing further beyond the ultimate
non possumus not possible
non progredi est regredi to not go forward is to go backward
non prosequitur he does not proceed A judgment in favor of a defendant when the plaintiff failed to take the necessary steps in an action within the time allowed.
non scholae sed vitae [We learn] not for school but for life An inversion of non vitae sed scholae now used as a school motto
non quis sed quid not who but what Used in the sense "what matters is not who says it but what he says" – a warning against ad hominem arguments; frequently used as motto, including that of Southwestern University.
non sequitur it does not follow In general, a comment which is absurd due to not making sense in its context (rather than due to being inherently nonsensical or internally inconsistent), often used in humor. As a logical fallacy, a conclusion that does not follow from a premise.
non serviam I will not serve Possibly derived from a Vulgate mistranslation of the Book of Jeremiah. Commonly used in literature as Satan's statement of disobedience to God, though in the original context the quote is attributed to Israel, not Satan.
non sibi Not for self A slogan used by many schools and universities.
non sibi, sed patriae Not for self, but for country Engraved on the doors of the United States Naval Academy chapel; motto of the USS Halyburton (FFG-40).
non sibi, sed suis Not for one's self but for one's own A slogan used by many schools and universities.
non sibi, sed omnibus Not for one's self but for all A slogan used by many schools and universities.
non sic dormit, sed vigilat Sleeps not but is awake Martin Luther on mortality of the soul.
non silba, sed anthar; Deo vindice Not for self, but for others; God will vindicate A slogan used by the Ku Klux Klan
non sum qualis eram I am not such as I was Or "I am not the kind of person I once was". Expresses a change in the speaker.
non teneas aurum totum quod splendet ut aurum Do not hold as gold all that shines as gold Also, "All that glitters is not gold." Shakespeare in The Merchant of Venice.
non timebo mala I will fear no evil Printed on the colt in Supernatural.
non vestra sed vos Not yours but you Motto of St Chad's College, Durham.
non vitae sed scholae [We learn] not for life but for schooltime From a passage of occupatio in Seneca the Younger's moral letters to Lucilius,[2] wherein Lucilius is given the argument that too much literature fails to prepare students for life
non vi, sed verbo Not by force, but by the word [of God] From Martin Luther's "Invocavit Sermons" preached in March, 1522, against the Zwickau prophets unrest in Wittenberg;[3] later echoed in the Augsburg Confession as ...sine vi humana, sed Verbo: bishops should act "without human force, but through the Word".[4]
nosce te ipsum know thyself From Cicero, based on the Greek γνῶθι σεαυτόν (gnothi seauton), inscribed on the pronaos of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, according to the Greek periegetic writer Pausanias (10.24.1). A non-traditional Latin rendering, temet nosce (thine own self know), is translated in The Matrix as "know thyself".
noster nostri Literally "Our ours" Approximately "Our hearts beat as one."
nota bene (n.b.) mark well That is, "please note" or "note it well".
novus ordo seclorum new order of the ages From Virgil. Motto on the Great Seal of the United States. Similar to Novus Ordo Mundi (New World Order).
nulla dies sine linea Not a day without a line drawn Pliny the Elder attributes this maxim to Apelles, an ancient Greek artist.
nulla poena sine lege no penalty without a law Refers to the legal principle that one cannot be punished for doing something that is not prohibited by law, and is related to Nullum crimen, nulla poena sine praevia lege poenali.
nulla tenaci invia est via For the tenacious, no road is impassable Motto of the Dutch car builder Spyker.
nullam rem natam no thing born That is, "nothing". It has been theorized that this expression is the origin of Italian nulla, French rien, and Spanish and Portuguese nada, all with the same meaning.
nulli secundus second to none Motto of the Coldstream Guards and Nine Squadron Royal Australian Corps of Transport and the Pretoria Regiment.
nullius in verba On the word of no man Motto of the Royal Society.
nullum crimen, nulla poena sine praevia lege poenali no crime, no punishment without a previous penal law Legal principle meaning that one cannot be penalised for doing something that is not prohibited by law; penal law cannot be enacted retroactively.
nullum magnum ingenium sine mixtura dementiae fuit There has been no great wisdom without an element of madness
nullum funus sine fidula No Funeral Without a Fiddle Motto of the Guild of Funerary Violinists.
numen lumen God our light The motto of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The motto of Elon University.
numerus clausus closed number A method to limit the number of students who may study at a university.
nunc aut nunquam now or never Motto of the Korps Commandotroepen, Dutch elite special forces.
nunc dimittis now you send beginning of the Song of Simeon, from the Gospel of Luke.
nunc est bibendum now is the time to drink Carpe-Diem-type phrase from the Odes of Horace, Nunc est bibendum, nunc pede libero pulsanda tellus (Now is the time to drink, now the time to dance footloose upon the earth).
nunc pro tunc now for then Something that has retroactive effect, is effective from an earlier date.
nunc scio quid sit amor now I know what love is From Virgil, Eclogues VIII.
nunquam minus solus quam cum solus never less alone than when alone
nunquam non paratus never unprepared, ever ready, always ready frequently used as motto

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ LXVI. "De Natura Deorum". http://archive.org. Cambridge University Press. 1880. 
  2. ^ Seneca the Younger. Moral Letters to Lucilius, 106. Hosted at Wikisource.
  3. ^ The Cambridge Companion to Martin Luther, p. 13. Cambridge University Press (Cambridge), 2003.
  4. ^ "Confessio Augustana", §28. 1530. Hosted at Christian Classics Ethereal Library.

References[edit]