List of Latin phrases (P)

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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 P. See List of Latin phrases for the main list.

P[edit]

Latin Translation Notes
pace peace "With all due respect to", "with due deference to", "by leave of", or "no offense to". Used to politely acknowledge someone with whom the speaker or writer disagrees.
pace tua with your peace Thus, "with your permission".
Pacem in terris Peace on Earth
pacta sunt servanda agreements must be kept Also "contracts must be honoured". Indicates the binding power of treaties.
palma non sine pulvere no reward without effort Also "dare to try"; motto of numerous schools.
palmam qui meruit ferat let he who merited the palm bear it also "achievement should be rewarded". Attached to the arms of Lord Nelson in 1797. Later attached to the arms of Upper Canada College and its motto. Also motto of the University of Southern California, Nelson, NZ, the Lincoln Academy of Illinois & Bay View High School, Milwaukee, WI.
panem et circenses bread and circuses From Juvenal, Satire X, line 81. Originally described all that was needed for emperors to placate the Roman mob. Today used to describe any entertainment used to distract public attention from more important matters.
para bellum prepare for war From "Si vis pacem para bellum": if you want peace, prepare for war—if a country is ready for war, its enemies are less likely to attack. Usually used to support a policy of peace through strength (deterrence). In antiquity, however, the Romans viewed peace as the aftermath of successful conquest through war, so in this sense the proverb identifies war as the means through which peace will be achieved.
parare Domino plebem perfectam to prepare for God a perfect people motto of the St. Jean Baptiste High School
parce sepulto forgive the interred it is ungenerous to hold resentment toward the deads. Quote from the Aeneid, III 13-68.
parens patriae parent of the nation A public policy requiring courts to protect the best interests of any child involved in a lawsuit. See also Pater Patriae.
pari passu with equal step Thus, "moving together", "simultaneously", etc.
parturiunt montes, nascetur ridiculus mus The mountains are in labour, a ridiculous mouse will be born. said of works that promise much at the outset but yield little in the end (Horace, Ars poetica 137) – see also The Mountain in Labour
parum luceat It does not shine [being darkened by shade]. Quintilian, Institutio Oratoria, 1/6:34 – see also lucus a nonlucendo
parva sub ingenti the small under the huge Implies that the weak are under the protection of the strong, rather than that they are inferior. Motto of Prince Edward Island.
parvis imbutus tentabis grandia tutus When you are steeped in little things, you shall safely attempt great things. Motto of Barnard Castle School, sometimes translated as "Once you have accomplished small things, you may attempt great ones safely".
passim here and there, everywhere Less literally, "throughout" or "frequently". Said of a word, fact or notion that occurs several times in a cited text. Also used in proofreading, where it refers to a change that is to be repeated everywhere needed.
pater familias father of the family Or "master of the house". The eldest male in a family, who held patria potestas ("paternal power"). In Roman law, a father had enormous power over his children, wife, and slaves, though these rights dwindled over time. Derived from the phrase pater familias, an Old Latin expression preserving the archaic -as ending for the genitive case.
Pater Omnipotens Father Almighty A more direct translation would be "omnipotent father".
Pater Patriae father of the nation Also rendered with the gender-neutral parens patriae ("parent of the nation").
pater peccavi father, I have sinned The traditional beginning of a Roman Catholic confession.
pauca sed bona few, but good Similar to "quality over quantity"; though there may be few of something, at least they are of good quality.
pauca sed matura few, but ripe Said to be one of Carl Gauss's favorite quotations. Used in The King and I by Rodgers and Hammerstein.
paulatim ergo certe slowly therefore surely Former motto of Latymer Upper School in London. The text latim er is concealed in the words.
pax aeterna eternal peace A common epitaph.
Pax Americana American Peace A euphemism for the United States of America and its sphere of influence. Adapted from Pax Romana.
Pax Britannica British Peace A euphemism for the British Empire. Adapted from Pax Romana.
Pax Christi Peace of Christ Used as a wish before the Holy Communion in the Catholic Mass, also the name of the peace movement Pax Christi.
pax Dei peace of God Used in the Peace and Truce of God movement in 10th-century France.
Pax Deorum Peace of the gods Like the vast majority of inhabitants of the ancient world, the Romans practiced pagan rituals, believing it important to achieve a state of Pax Deorum (The Peace of the gods) instead of Ira Deorum (The Wrath of the gods).
Pax Domine peace, lord lord or master; used as a form of address when speaking to clergy or educated professionals.
pax et bonum peace and the good Motto of St. Francis of Assisi and, consequently, of his monastery in Assisi; understood by Catholics to mean 'Peace and Goodness be with you,' as is similar in the Mass; translated in Italian as pace e bene.
pax et justitia peace and justice Motto of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
pax et lux peace and light Motto of Tufts University and various schools. Also written as "Pax et Lvx".
Pax Europaea European peace euphemism for Europe after World War II
Pax Hispanica Spanish Peace Euphemism for the Spanish Empire; specifically can mean the twenty-three years of supreme Spanish dominance in Europe (approximately 1598–1621). Adapted from Pax Romana.
pax in terra peace on earth Used to exemplify the desired state of peace on earth.
Pax intrantibus, salus exeuntibus Peace to those who enter, health to those who depart. Used as an inscription over the entrance of buildings (especially homes, monasteries, inns). Often benedicto habitantibus (Blessings on those who abide here) is added.
pax matrum, ergo pax familiarum peace of mothers, therefore peace of families If the mother is peaceful, then the family is peaceful. The inverse of the Southern United States saying, "If mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy."
Pax Mongolica Mongolian Peace period of peace and prosperity in Asia during the Mongol Empire
pax optima rerum peace is the greatest good Silius Italicus, Punica (11,595); motto of the university of Kiel
Pax Romana Roman Peace period of relative prosperity and lack of conflict in the early Roman Empire
Pax Sinica Chinese Peace period of peace in East Asia during times of strong Chinese hegemony
pax tecum peace be with you (singular)
Pax tibi, Marce, evangelista meus. Hic requiescet corpus tuum. Peace to you, Mark, my Evangelist. Here will rest your body.
Legend states that when the evangelist went to the lagoon where Venice would later be founded, an angel came and said so.[1] The first part is depicted as the note in the book shown opened by the lion of St Mark's Basilica, Venice; registered trademark of the Assicurazioni Generali, Trieste.[2] Part of Venice's coat of arms: a winged lion holding a sword upright and showing an opened book with the words: "Pax tibi, Marce, evangelista meus."
pax vobiscum peace [be] with you A common farewell. The "you" is plural ("you all"), so the phrase must be used when speaking to more than one person; pax tecum is the form used when speaking to only one person.
peccavi I have sinned Telegraph message and pun from Charles Napier, British general, upon completely subjugating the Indian province of Sindh in 1842. This is, arguably, the most terse military despatch ever sent. The story is apocryphal.
pecunia non olet money doesn't smell According to Suetonius' De vita Caesarum, when 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 or simply said non olet ("it doesn't smell"). From this, the phrase was expanded to pecunia non olet, or rarely aes non olet ("copper doesn't smell").
pecunia, si uti scis, ancilla est; si nescis, domina if you know how to use money, money is your slave; if you don't, money is your master Written on an old Latin tablet in downtown Verona (Italy).
pede poena claudo punishment comes limping That is, retribution comes slowly but surely. From Horace, Odes, 3, 2, 32.
pendent opera interrupta the work hangs interrupted From the Aeneid of Virgil, Book IV.
per By, through, by means of See specific phrases below.
per angusta ad augusta through difficulties to greatness Joining sentence of the conspirators in the drama Hernani by Victor Hugo (1830). The motto of numerous educational establishments.
per annum (pa.) each year Thus, "yearly"—occurring every year.
per ardua through adversity Motto of the British RAF Regiment.
per ardua ad alta through difficulty to heights Through hardship, great heights are reached. Motto of University of Birmingham, Methodist Ladies' College, Perth. Also the motto of Clan Hannay.
per ardua ad astra through adversity to the stars Motto of the air force of several nations (including the Royal Air Force of the United Kingdom) and of several schools. The phrase is used by Latin Poet Virgil in the Aeneid; also used in H. Rider Haggard's novel The People of the Mist.
per aspera ad astra through hardships to the stars From Seneca the Younger. Motto of NASA and the South African Air Force. A common variant, ad astra per aspera ("to the stars through hardships"), is the state motto of Kansas. Ad Astra ("To the Stars") is the title of a magazine published by the National Space Society. De Profundis Ad Astra ("From the depths to the stars.") is the motto of the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society.
per capita by heads "Per head", i.e., "per person", a ratio by the number of persons. The singular is per caput.
per capsulam through the small box That is, "by letter"
per contra through the contrary Or "on the contrary" (cf. a contrario)
per crucem vincemus through the cross we shall conquer Motto of St John Fisher Catholic High School, Dewsbury
Per Crucem Crescens through the cross, growth Motto of Lambda Chi Alpha
per curiam through the senate Legal term meaning "by the court", as in a per curiam decision
per definitionem through the definition Thus, "by definition"
per diem (pd.) by day Thus, "per day". A specific amount of money an organization allows an individual to spend per day, typically for travel expenses.
per fas et nefas through right or wrong By fair means or foul
per fidem intrepidus fearless through faith
per mare per terram by sea and by land Motto of the Royal Marines and (with small difference) of Clan Donald and the Compagnies Franches de la Marine.
per mensem (pm.) by month Thus, "per month", or "monthly".
per os (p.o.) through the mouth Medical shorthand for "by mouth".
per pedes by feet Used of a certain place can be traversed or reached by foot, or to indicate that one is travelling by foot as opposed to by a vehicle.
per procura (p.p.) or (per pro) through the agency Also rendered per procurationem. Used to indicate that a person is signing a document on behalf of another person. Correctly placed before the name of the person signing, but often placed before the name of the person on whose behalf the document is signed, sometimes through incorrect translation of the alternative abbreviation per pro. as "for and on behalf of".
per quod by reason of which In a UK legal context: "by reason of which" (as opposed to per se which requires no reasoning). In American jurisprudence often refers to a spouse's claim for loss of consortium.
per rectum (pr) through the rectum Medical shorthand. See also per os.
per rectum ad astra via rectum to the stars a modern parody of per aspera ad astra, originating and most commonly used in Russia, meaning that the path to success took you through most undesirable and objectionable places or environments; or that a found solution to a complex problem is extremely convoluted.
per risum multum poteris cognoscere stultum by excessive laughter one can recognise the fool
per se through itself Also "by itself" or "in itself". Without referring to anything else, intrinsically, taken without qualifications etc. A common example is negligence per se. See also malum in se.
per stirpes through the roots Used in wills to indicate that each "branch" of the testator's family should inherit equally. Contrasted with per capita.
per unitatem vis through unity, strength Motto of Texas A&M University Corps of Cadets.
per veritatem vis through truth, strength Motto of Washington University in St. Louis.
per volar sunata[sic] born to soar Motto of St Aidan's Anglican Girls' School and St Margaret's Anglican Girls' School. The phrase is not from Latin but from Dante's Purgatorio, Canto XII, 95, the Italian phrase "per volar sù nata".
periculum in mora danger in delay
perinde ac [si] cadaver [essent] [well-disciplined] like a corpse Phrase written by St. Ignatius of Loyola in his Constitutiones Societatis Iesu (1954)
perita manus mens exculta skilled hand, cultivated mind Motto of RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia.
perge sequar advance, I follow from Virgil's Aeneid IV 114; in Vergil's context: "proceed with your plan, I will do my part."
perpetuum mobile thing in perpetual motion A musical term. Also used to refer to hypothetical perpetual motion machines.
Perseverantia et Fide in Deo Perseverance and Faith in God Motto of Bombay Scottish School, Mahim, India
persona non grata person not pleasing An unwelcome, unwanted or undesirable person. In diplomatic contexts, a person rejected by the host government. The reverse, persona grata ("pleasing person"), is less common, and refers to a diplomat acceptable to the government of the country to which he is sent.
petitio principii request of the beginning Begging the question, a logical fallacy in which a proposition to be proved is implicitly or explicitly assumed in one of the premises.
pia desideria pious longings Or "dutiful desires".
pia fraus pious fraud Or "dutiful deceit". Expression from Ovid. Used to describe deception which serves Church purposes.
pia mater pious mother Or "tender mother". Translated into Latin from Arabic. The delicate innermost of the three membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord.
pinxit one painted Thus, "he painted this" or "she painted this". Formerly used on works of art, next to the artist's name.
piscem natare docem teach fish to swim Latin proverb, attributed by Erasmus to Greek origin (Ἰχθὺν νηχέσθαι διδάσκεις); corollary Chinese idiom (班門弄斧)
placet it pleases expression of assent.
pluralis majestatis plural of majesty The first-person plural pronoun when used by an important personage to refer to himself or herself; also known as the "royal we".
pluralis modestiae plural of modesty
plus minusve (p.m.v.) more or less Frequently found on Roman funerary inscriptions to denote that the age of a decedent is approximate.
plus ultra further beyond The national motto of Spain and a number of other institutions. Motto of the Colombian National Armada.
pollice compresso favor iudicabatur goodwill decided by compressed thumb Life was spared with a thumb tucked inside a closed fist, simulating a sheathed weapon. Conversely, a thumb up meant to unsheath your sword.
pollice verso with a turned thumb Used by Roman crowds to pass judgment on a defeated gladiator. The type of gesture used is uncertain. Also the name of a famous painting depicting gladiators by Jean-Léon Gérôme.
Polonia Restituta Rebirth of Poland
pons asinorum bridge of asses Any obstacle that stupid people find hard to cross. Originally used of Euclid's Fifth Proposition in geometry.
Pontifex Maximus Greatest High Priest Or "Supreme Pontiff". Originally an office in the Roman Republic, later a title held by Roman Emperors, and later a traditional epithet of the pope. The pontifices were the most important priestly college of the religion in ancient Rome; their name is usually thought to derive from pons facere ("to make a bridge"), which in turn is usually linked to their religious authority over the bridges of Rome, especially the Pons Sublicius.
posse comitatus force of the county [3]Thus, to be able to be made into part of a retinue or force. In common law, a sheriff's right to compel people to assist law enforcement in unusual situations.
post aut propter after it or by means of it Causality between two phenomena is not established (cf. post hoc, ergo propter hoc).
post cibum (p.c.) after food Medical shorthand for "after meals" (cf. ante cibum).
post coitum After sex After sexual intercourse.
post coitum omne animal triste est sive gallus et mulier After sexual intercourse every animal is sad, except the cock (rooster) and the woman Or: triste est omne animal post coitum, praeter mulierem gallumque. Attributed to Galen of Pergamum.[4]
post hoc ergo propter hoc after this, therefore because of this A logical fallacy where one assumes that one thing happening after another thing means that the first thing caused the second.
post festum after the feast Too late, or after the fact.
post meridiem (p.m.) after midday The period from noon to midnight (cf. ante meridiem).
post mortem (pm) after death Usually rendered postmortem. Not to be confused with post meridiem.
Post mortem auctoris (p.m.a.) after the author's death The phrase is used in legal terminology in the context of intellectual property rights, especially copyright, which commonly lasts until a certain number of years after the author's death.
post nubila phoebus after the clouds, the sun Motto of the University of Zulia, Venezuela.
post prandial after “late breakfast” Refers to the time after any meal. Usually rendered postprandial.
post scriptum (p.s.) after what has been written A postscript. Used to mark additions to a letter, after the signature. Can be extended to post post scriptum (p.p.s.), etc.
post tenebras lux, or post tenebras spero lucem after darkness, [I hope for] light Motto of the Protestant Reformation inscribed on the Reformation Wall in Geneva from Vulgata, Job 17:12. Former motto of Chile; motto of Robert College of Istanbul.
postera crescam laude we grow in the esteem of future generations Motto of the University of Melbourne.
potest solum unum There can be only one Highlander.
praemia virtutis honores honours are the rewards of virtue  
praemonitus praemunitus forewarned is forearmed  
praesis ut prosis ne ut imperes Lead in order to serve, not in order to rule. Motto of Lancaster Royal Grammar School.
praeter legem after the law Legal terminology, international law
Praga Caput Regni Prague, Head of the Kingdom Motto of Prague from Middle Ages
Praga Caput Rei publicae Prague, Head of the Republic Motto of Prague from 1991
Praga mater urbium Prague, Mother of Cities Motto of Prague from 1927
Praga totius Bohemiae domina Prague, the mistress of the whole of Bohemia Former motto of Prague
pretiumque et causa laboris The prize and the cause of our labour Motto of Burnley Football Club; from Ovid's Metamorphoses, 4.739 (Latin)/English): "The Tale of Perseus and Andromeda": resoluta catenis incedit virgo, pretiumque et causa laboris. ("freed of her chains the virgin approaches, cause and reward of the enterprise.")
prima facie at first sight Used to designate evidence in a trial which is suggestive, but not conclusive, of something (e.g., a person's guilt).
prima luce at dawn Literally "at first light".
primas sum: primatum nil a me alienum puto I am a primate; nothing about primates is outside of my bailiwick A sentence by the American anthropologist Earnest Hooton and the slogan of primatologists and lovers of the primates.
primum mobile first moving thing Or "first thing able to be moved". See primum movens.
primum movens prime mover Or "first moving one". A common theological term, such as in the cosmological argument, based on the assumption that God was the first entity to "move" or "cause" anything. Aristotle was one of the first philosophers to discuss the "uncaused cause", a hypothetical originator—and violator—of causality.
primum non nocere first, to not harm A medical precept. Often falsely attributed to the Hippocratic Oath, though its true source is probably a paraphrase from Hippocrates' Epidemics, where he wrote, "Declare the past, diagnose the present, foretell the future; practice these acts. As to diseases, make a habit of two things: to help, or at least to do no harm."
primus inter pares first among equals A title of the Roman Emperors (cf. princeps).
principia probant non probantur principles prove; they are not proved Fundamental principles require no proof; they are assumed a priori.
principiis obsta (et respice finem) resist the beginnings (and consider the end) Ovid, Remedia Amoris, 91
principium individuationis Individuation psychological term: the self-formation of the personality into a coherent whole
prior tempore potior iure earlier in time, stronger in law A legal principle that older laws take precedent over newer ones. Another name for this principle is lex posterior.
pro aris et focis For God and country The motto of the Royal Queensland Regiment, and many other regiments.
pro bono publico for the public good Often abbreviated pro bono. Work undertaken voluntarily at no expense, such as public services. Often used of a lawyer's work that is not charged for.
pro Brasilia fiant eximia let exceptional things be made for Brazil Motto of São Paulo state, Brazil.
pro Deo et Patria For God and Country One of the mottos of Lyceum of the Philippines University and many other institutions.
pro domo (sua) for (one’s own) home or house serving the interests of a given perspective or for the benefit of a given group.
pro Ecclesia, pro Texana For Church, For Texas Motto of Baylor University, a private Christian Baptist university in Waco, Texas.
pro fide et patria for faith and fatherland Motto of the originally Irish Muldoon family and of several schools, such as the Diocesan College (Bishops) in Cape Town, South Africa, and All Hallows High School in the Bronx, New York.
pro forma for form Or "as a matter of form". Prescribing a set form or procedure, or performed in a set manner.
pro gloria et patria for glory and fatherland Motto of Prussia
pro hac vice for this occasion Request of a state court to allow an out-of-state lawyer to represent a client.
pro multis for many It is part of the Rite of Consecration of the wine in Western Christianity tradition, as part of the Mass.
pro parte in part Frequently used in taxonomy to refer to part of a group.
pro patria for country Pro Patria Medal: for operational service (minimum 55 days) in defence of the Republic South Africa or in the prevention or suppression of terrorism; issued for the Border War (counter-insurgency operations in South West Africa 1966–89) and for campaigns in Angola (1975–76 and 1987–88). Motto of The Royal Canadian Regiment, Royal South Australia Regiment, Hurlstone Agricultural High School.
pro patria vigilans watchful for the country Motto of the United States Army Signal Corps.
pro per for self to defend oneself in court without counsel; abbreviation of propria persona. See also: pro se.
pro rata for the rate i.e., proportionately.
pro re nata (PRN, prn) for a thing that has been born Medical shorthand for "as the occasion arises" or "as needed". Also "concerning a matter having come into being". Used to describe a meeting of a special Presbytery or Assembly called to discuss something new, and which was previously unforeseen (literally: "concerning a matter having been born").
pro rege et lege for king and the law Found on the Leeds coat of arms.
pro se for oneself to defend oneself in court without counsel. Some jurisdictions prefer, "pro per".
pro scientia et patria for science and nation Motto of the National University of La Plata.
pro studio et labore for study and work
pro tanto for so much Denotes something that has only been partially fulfilled. A philosophical term indicating the acceptance of a theory or idea without fully accepting the explanation.
pro tempore for the time Equivalent to English phrase "for the time being". Denotes a temporary current situation.
probatio pennae testing of the pen A Medieval Latin term for breaking in a new pen.
probis pateo I am open for honest people Traditionally inscribed above a city gate or above the front entrance of a dwelling or place of learning.
prodesse quam conspici To Accomplish Rather Than To Be Conspicuous Motto of Miami University.
propria manu (p.m.) "by one's own hand".
propter vitam vivendi perdere causas to destroy the reasons for living for the sake of life That is, to squander life's purpose just in order to stay alive, and live a meaningless life. From Juvenal, Satyricon VIII, verses 83–84.
provehito in altum launch forward into the deep Motto of Memorial University of Newfoundland.
proxime accessit he came next The runner-up.
proximo mense (prox.) in the following month Formerly used in formal correspondence to refer to the next month. Used with ult. ("last month") and inst. ("this month").
pulchrum est paucorum hominum Beauty is for the few From Friedrich Nietzsche's 1889 book Twilight of the Idols
pulvis et umbra sumus we are dust and shadow From Horace, Carmina book IV, 7, 16.
punctum saliens leaping point Thus, the essential or most notable point. The salient point.
purificatus non consumptus purified, not consumed Motto of Washburn University, last charter school in the United States of America, located in Topeka, Kansas.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ St Mark's Square
  2. ^ Trademark registration
  3. ^ Solodow, Joseph Latin Alive: The Survival of Latin in English and the Romance Languages, Cambridge University Press, 2010 p.160 "out of the phrase posse comitatus “the force of the county” arose our present use of posse for a group of men whom the sheriff calls upon in a crisis."
  4. ^ Kinsey, Alfred Charles (1998) [1953]. Sexual Behavior in the Human Female. Indiana University Press. p. 638. ISBN 978-0-253-33411-4.  (Kinsey Reports)

References[edit]