List of sundial mottos

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Kilbirnie Auld Kirk, Kilbirnie, Ayrshire, Scotland.

Sundials are often provided with a motto[1] to reflect the sentiments of its maker or owner.

English mottos[edit]

  • Come along and grow old with me; the best is yet to be.
  • Let others tell of storms and showers, I tell of sunny morning hours.
  • Life is but a shadow: the shadow of a bird on the wing.
  • Time, like an ever-rolling stream, bears all its sons away.[2]
  • Self-dependent power can time defy, as rocks resist the billows and the sky.[2]
  • Be as true to each other as this dial is to the sun.
  • Hours fly, Flowers die. New days, New ways, Pass by. Love stays.
  • I only tell of sunny hours.
  • Begone about Thy business.

Latin mottos[edit]

Time flies[edit]

  • Tempus fugit. (Time flies.)[3]
  • Tempus breve est. (Time is short.)[3]
  • Ruit hora. (The hour is flowing away.)[3]
  • Tempus volat, hora fugit. (Time flies, the hour flees.)[3]
  • Hora fugit, ne tardes. (The hour flees, don't be late.)[3]
  • Tempus fugit velut umbra. (Time flies like a shadow.)[4]

Make use of time[edit]

  • Carpe diem (Seize the day.)[3]
  • Fugit hora - carpe diem. ( The hour flees — seize the day.)
  • Festina lente. (Make haste, but slowly.)[3]
  • Utere non reditura. (Use the hour, it will not come again.)[3]
  • Utere, non numera. (Use the hours, don't count them.)[3]
  • Altera pars otio, pars ista labori. (Devote this hour to work, another to leisure.)[3]

Human mortality[edit]

Pereunt et Imputantur, on St Buryan Church in Cornwall
  • Vita fugit, sicut umbra (Life passes like the shadow.)
  • Vita similis umbrae. (Life resembles a shadow.)[3]
  • Umbra sicut hominis vita. (A person's life is like a shadow.)[3]
  • Meam vide umbram, tuam videbis vitam. (Look at my shadow and you will see your life.)[3]
  • Memor esto brevis aevi. (Remember how short is life.)[3]
  • Ex iis unam cave. (Beware of one hour.)[3]
  • Una ex his erit tibi ultima. (One of these hours will be your last.)[3]
  • Omnes vulnerant, ultima necat. (All hours wound; the last one kills.)[3]
  • Serius est quam cogitas. (It's later than you think.)[3]
  • Sic labitur aetas. (Thus passes a lifetime.)[3]
  • Lente hora, celeriter anni. (An hour passes slowly, but the years go by quickly.)[3]
  • Ultima latet ut observentur omnes. (Our last hour is hidden from us, so that we watch them all.)[3]
  • Ver non semper viret. (Springtime does not last.)[3]
  • Sic vita fluit, dum stare videtur. (Life flows away as it seems to stay the same.)[3]
  • Pereunt et Imputantur. (The hours are consumed and will be charged to our account)


  • Tempus edax rerum. (Time devours things.)[3]
  • Tempus vincit omnia. (Time conquers everything.)[3]
  • Vidi nihil permanere sub sole. (I have seen that nothing under the sun endures. — a quote from Ecclesiastes (Kohelet).[3]


  • Omnes aequales sola virtute discrepantes. (All hours are the same — they are distinguished only by good deeds.)[3]
  • Dum tempus habemus operemur bonum. (While we have time, let us do good.)[3]


  • Sol omnibus lucet. (The sun shines for everyone.)[3]
  • Semper amicis hora (Always time for friends.)
  • Amicis qualibet hora. (Any hour for my friends.)[3]
  • Vita in motu (Life is in motion.)[3] - Houghton Hall Norfolk England - image here
  • Vivere memento. (Remember to live.)[3]
  • Fruere hora. (Enjoy the hour.)[3]
  • Dona praesentis cape laetus horae. (Take the gifts of this hour.)[3]
  • Tempus omnia dabit. (Time will give everything.)[3]
  • Una dabit quod negat altera. (One hour will give what another has refused.)[3]
  • Post tenebras spero lucem. (I hope for light to follow darkness.)[3]
  • Sit fausta quae labitur. (May the hour be favorable.)


  • Horas non numero nisi serenas (I count only the sunny hours)
  • Horas non numero nisi aestivas (I count only the summer hours)[5]
  • Nunc est bibendum (Now is the time to drink)[6]
  • Si sol deficit, respicit me nemo. (If the sun's gone, nobody looks at me)
  • Sine sole sileo. (Without the Sun I fall silent.)

German Mottos[edit]

  • Mach' es wie die Sonnenuhr; Zähl' die heitren Stunden nur! (Do like a sundial; count only the sunny hours!)


  1. ^ The plural of motto may be either mottoes or mottos.
  2. ^ a b Waugh (1973), p. 124
  3. ^ 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 aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak Rohr (1965), p. 127–129
  4. ^
  5. ^ Probably unique to the William Willett memorial in Petts Wood, England which shows Summer Time
  6. ^ Horace's Odes (book I, ode xxxvii, line 1)


  • Earle AM (1971). Sundials and Roses of Yesterday. Rutland, VT: Charles E. Tuttle. ISBN 0-8048-0968-2. LCCN 74142763.  Reprint of the 1902 book published by Macmillan (New York).
  • Rohr RRJ (1996). Sundials: History, Theory, and Practice (translated by G. Godin ed.). New York: Dover. ISBN 0-486-29139-1.  Slightly amended reprint of the 1970 translation published by University of Toronto Press (Toronto). The original was published in 1965 under the title Les Cadrans solaires by Gauthier-Villars (Montrouge, France).
  • Cadran Solaires. 32 bis Route de Montélimar, F26110 Nyons: Artissime. c. 1988.  Selections from the 1895 paper Raphaël BLANCHARD in Bulletin de la Société d'Etudes des Hautes-Alpes.

Further reading[edit]

  • Boursier C (1936). 800 Devises de cadrans solaires. Paris: Unknown publisher. 
  • Cross L (1915). the Book of Old Sundials (illustrated by W Hogg ed.). London: Foulis. 
  • Mrs. Alfred Gatty (1900). The Book of Sun-Dials (4th ed., enlarged and edited by HKF Eden and E Lloyd ed.). London: George Bell. 
  • Hyatt AH (1903). A Book of Sundial Mottoes. New York: Scott-Thaw. 
  • Landon P (1904). Helio-tropes, or new Posies for Sundials. London: Methuen. 
  • Leadbetter C (1773). Mechanick Dialling. London: Caslon.