List of Latin phrases (A)

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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 A. See List of Latin phrases for the main list.
Latin Translation Notes
a bene placito from one well pleased i.e., "at will" or "at one's pleasure". This phrase, and its Italian (beneplacito) and Spanish (beneplácito) derivatives, are synonymous with the more common ad libitum (at pleasure).
a capite ad calcem from head to heel i.e., "from top to bottom", "all the way through", or "from head to toe". See also a pedibus usque ad caput.
a contrario from the opposite i.e., "on the contrary" or "au contraire". Thus, an argumentum a contrario ("argument from the contrary") is an argument or proof by contrast or direct opposite.
a Deucalione from or since Deucalion A long time ago; from Gaius Lucilius, Satires VI, 284
a falsis principiis proficisci to set forth from false principles Legal phrase. From Cicero, De Finibus IV.53.
a fortiori from the stronger i.e., "even more so" or "with even stronger reason". Often used to lead from a less certain proposition to a more evident corollary.
a maiore ad minus from the greater to the smaller From general to particular; "What holds for all X also holds for one particular X." – argument a fortiori
a minore ad maius from the smaller to the greater An inference from smaller to bigger; what is forbidden at least is forbidden at more ("If riding a bicycle with two on it is forbidden, riding it with three on it is at least similarly punished.")
a pedibus usque ad caput from feet to head i.e., "completely", "from tip to toe", "from head to toe". Equally a capite ad calcem. See also ab ovo usque ad mala.
a posse ad esse from being able to being "From possibility to actuality" or "from being possible to being actual".
a posteriori from the latter Based on observation, i. e., empirical evidence. Opposite of a priori. Used in mathematics and logic to denote something that is known after a proof has been carried out. In philosophy, used to denote something known from experience.
a priori from the former Presupposed independent of experience; the reverse of a posteriori. Used in mathematics and logic to denote something that is known or postulated before a proof has been carried out. In philosophy, used to denote something is supposed without empirical evidence. In everyday speech, it denotes something occurring or being known before the event.
a solis ortu usque ad occasum from sunrise to sunset
ab absurdo from the absurd Said of an argument either for a conclusion that rests on the alleged absurdity of an opponent's argument (cf. appeal to ridicule) or that another assertion is false because it is absurd. The phrase is distinct from reductio ad absurdum, which is usually a valid logical argument.
ab abusu ad usum non valet consequentia The inference of a use from its abuse is not valid i.e., a right is still a right even if it is abused (e.g. practiced in a morally/ethically wrong way); cf. § abusus non tollit usum.
ab aeterno from the eternal Literally, "from the everlasting", "from eternity", or "from outside of time". Philosophically and theologically, it indicates something, e. g., the universe, that was created from outside of time. Sometimes used incorrectly to denote something, not from without time, but from a point within time, i.e. "from time immemorial", "since the beginning of time". or "from an infinitely remote time in the past")
ab antiquo from the ancient i.e., from ancient times
ab epistulis from the letters[1] Regarding or pertaining to correspondence.[1] Ab epistulis was originally the title of the secretarial office in the Roman Empire
ab extra from beyond/without Legal term denoting derivation from an external source, as opposed to a person's self or mind—the latter of which is denoted by ab intra.
ab hinc from here on Also sometimes written as "abhinc"
ab imo pectore from the deepest chest i.e., "from the bottom of my heart", "with deepest affection", or "sincerely". Attributed to Julius Caesar.
ab inconvenienti from an inconvenient thing Neo-Latin for "based on unsuitability", "from inconvenience", or "from hardship". An argumentum ab inconvenienti is one based on the difficulties involved in pursuing a line of reasoning, and is thus a form of appeal to consequences. The phrase refers to the legal principle that an argument from inconvenience has great weight.
ab incunabulis from the cradle i.e., "from the beginning" or "from infancy". Incunabula is commonly used in English to refer to the earliest stage or origin of something, and especially to copies of books that predate the spread of the printing press c. AD 1500.
ab initio from the beginning i.e., "from the outset", referring to an inquiry or investigation. Ab initio mundi means "from the beginning of the world". In literature, it refers to a story told from the beginning rather than in medias res ('from the middle'). In science, it refers to the first principles. In other contexts, it often refers to beginner or training courses. In law, it refers to a thing being true from its beginning or from the instant of the act, rather than from when the court declared it so. Likewise, an annulment is a judicial declaration of the invalidity or nullity of a marriage ab initio: the so-called marriage was "no thing" (Latin: nullius, from which the word "nullity" derives) and never existed, except perhaps in name only.
ab intestato from an intestate i.e., from a (dead) decedent, who died without executing a legal will; cf. ex testamento
ab intra from within i.e., from the inside, as opposed to ab extra ("from without").
ab invito against one's will
ab irato from/by an angry person More literally, "from/by an angry man". Though the form irato is masculine, the application of the phrase is not limited to men. Rather, "person" is meant because the phrase probably elides homo ("man/person"), not vir ("man"). It is used in law to describe a decision or action that is motivated by hatred or anger instead of reason and is detrimental to those whom it affects.
ab origine from the source i.e., from the origin, beginning, source, or commencement; or, "originally".

Root of the word aboriginal.

ab ovo from the egg i.e., from the beginning or origin. Derived from the longer phrase in Horace's Satire 1.3: "ab ovo usque ad mala", meaning "from the egg to the apples", referring to how Ancient Roman meals would typically begin with an egg dish and end with fruit (cf. the English phrase soup to nuts). Thus, ab ovo means "from the beginning", and can connote thoroughness.
absens haeres non erit an absent person will not be an heir Legal principle that a person who is not present is unlikely to inherit.
absente reo (abs. re.) [with] the defendant being absent Legal phrase denoting action "in the absence of the accused".
absit iniuria absent from injury i.e., "no offense", meaning to wish that no insult or injury be presumed or done by the speaker's words. Also rendered as absit iniuria verbis ("let injury be absent from these words"). cf. absit invidia.
absit invidia absent from envy As opposed to "no offense", absit invidia is said in the context of a statement of excellence, to ward off envious deities who might interpret a statement of excellence as hubris. Also extended to absit invidia verbo ("may ill will/envy be absent from these words"). cf. absit iniuria verbis.[2]
absit omen absent from omen i.e., "let this not be a bad omen", expressing the hope that something ill-boding does not turn out to be bad luck in the future.
absolutum dominium absolute dominion i.e., total or supreme power, dominion, ownership, or sovereignty
absolvo I absolve Legal term pronounced by a judge in order to acquit a defendant following their trial. Te absolvo or absolvo te ("I forgive you") is said by Roman Catholic priests during the Sacrament of Confession, prior to the Second Vatican Council and in vernacular thereafter.
abundans cautela non nocet abundant caution does no harm i.e., "one can never be too careful"
ab uno disce omnes from one, learn all Refers to situations in which a single example or observation indicates a general or universal truth. Coined in Virgil, Aeneid II 65-6. Example: in the court of King Silas in the American television series Kings.
ab urbe condita (AUC) from the founding of the City i.e., "from the founding of Rome", which occurred in 753 BC, according to Livy. It was used as a referential year in ancient Rome from which subsequent years were calculated, prior to being replaced by other dating conventions. Also anno urbis conditae (AUC), literally "in the year of the founded city".
abusus non tollit usum misuse does not remove use The misuse of some thing does not eliminate the possibility of its correct use. cf. ab abusu ad usum non valet consequentia
ab utili from utility Used of an argument
abyssus abyssum invocat deep calleth unto deep From Psalms 42:7; some translations have "sea calls to sea".
accipe hoc take this Motto of the 848 Naval Air Squadron, British Royal Navy
accusare nemo se debet nisi coram Deo no one ought to accuse himself except in the presence of God Legal principle denoting that an accused person is entitled to plead not guilty, and that a witness is not obligated to respond or submit a document that would incriminate himself. A similar phrase is nemo tenetur se ipsum accusare ("no one is bound to accuse himself").
acta deos numquam mortalia fallunt mortal actions never deceive the gods Derived from Ovid, Tristia, I.ii, 97: si tamen acta deos numquam mortalia fallunt, / a culpa facinus scitis abesse mea. ("Yet if mortal actions never deceive the gods, / you know that crime was absent from my fault.")
acta est fabula plaudite The play has been performed; applaud! Common ending to ancient Roman comedies: Suetonius claimed in The Twelve Caesars that these were the last words of Augustus; Sibelius applied them to the third movement of his String Quartet No. 2, so that his audience would recognize that it was the last one, because a fourth would be ordinarily expected.
acta non verba Deeds not Words Motto of the United States Merchant Marine Academy.
acta sanctorum Deeds of the Saints Also used in the singular preceding a saint's name: Acta Sancti ("Deeds of Saint") N.; a common title of hagiography works
actiones secundum fidei action follows belief i.e., "we act according to what we believe (ourselves to be)."[3]
actore non probante reus absolvitur A defendant is exonerated by the failure of the prosecution to prove its case[4] presumption of innocence
actus me invito factus non est meus actus the act done by me against my will is not my act
actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea The act does not make [a person] guilty unless the mind should be guilty. Legal principle of the presumption of mens rea in a crime
actus reus guilty act The actual crime that is committed, as opposed to the intent, thinking, and rationalizing that procured the criminal act; the external elements of a crime, rather than the internal elements (i.e. mens rea).
ad absurdum to absurdity In logic, to the point of being silly or nonsensical. See also reductio ad absurdum. Not to be confused with ab absurdo ("from the absurd").
ad abundantiam to abundance Used in legal language when providing additional evidence to an already sufficient collection. Also used commonly as an equivalent of "as if this wasn't enough".
ad acta to the archives Denoting the irrelevance of a thing
ad altiora tendo I strive towards higher things
ad arbitrium at will, at pleasure
ad astra to the stars A common name or motto, in whole or part, among many publications
ad astra per aspera to the stars through difficulties i.e., "a rough road leads to the stars", as on the Launch Complex 34 memorial plaque for the astronauts of Apollo 1. Used as a motto by the State of Kansas and other organisations
ad augusta per angusta through difficulties to honours i.e., to rise to a high position overcoming hardships.
ad captandum vulgus to captivate the mob i.e., to appeal to the masses. Often said of or used by politicians. Likewise, an argumentum ad captandum is an argument designed to please the crowd.
ad clerum to the clergy Formal letter or communication in the Christian tradition from a bishop to his clergy. An ad clerum may be an encouragement in a time of celebration or a technical explanation of new regulations or canons.
ad coelum or
a caelo usque ad centrum
from the sky to the center i.e., "from Heaven all the way to the center of the Earth". In law, it may refer to the proprietary principle of cuius est solum, eius est usque ad coelum et ad inferos ("whosesoever is the soil, it is his up to the sky and down to the depths [of the Earth]").
ad eundem to the same An ad eundem degree (derived from ad eundem gradum, "to the same step or degree") is a courtesy degree awarded by a university or college to an alumnus of another. Rather than an honorary degree, it is a recognition of the formal learning for which the degree was earned at another college.
ad fontes to the sources Motto of Renaissance humanism and the Protestant Reformation
ad fundum to the bottom i.e., "bottoms up!" (during a generic toast) or "back to the basics", depending on context.
ad hoc to this i.e., "for this", in the sense of improvised or intended only for a specific, immediate purpose.
ad hominem to/at the man Provides the term argumentum ad hominem, a logical fallacy in which a person themselves is criticized, when the subject of debate is their idea or argument, on the mistaken assumption that the soundness of an argument is dependent on the qualities of the proponent.
ad honorem to/for the honour i.e., not for the purpose of gaining any material reward
ad infinitum to infinity i.e., enduring forever. Used to designate a property which repeats in all cases in mathematical proof. Also used in philosophical contexts to mean "repeating in all cases".
ad interim (ad int.) for the meantime As in the term "chargé d'affaires ad interim", denoting a diplomatic officer who acts in place of an ambassador.[5]
ad kalendas graecas at the Greek Calends i.e., "when pigs fly". Attributed by Suetonius in The Twelve Caesars to Augustus. The Calends were specific days of the Roman calendar, not of the Greek, and so the "Greek Kalends" would never occur.
ad libitum (ad lib) toward pleasure i.e, "according to what pleases" or "as you wish". In music and theatrical scripts, it typically indicates that the performer has the liberty to change or omit something. Ad lib is often, specifically used when one improvises or ignores limitations. Also used by some restaurants in favor of the colloquial "all you can eat or drink". Libitum comes from the past participle of libere ("to please").
ad limina apostolorum to the thresholds of the Apostles i.e., to Rome. Refers specifically to the quinquennial visit ad limina, a formal trip by Roman Catholic bishops to visit the Pope every five years.
ad litem to the lawsuit Legal phrase referring to a party appointed by a court to act in a lawsuit on behalf of another party who is deemed incapable of representing himself or herself, such as a child. An individual who acts in this capacity is called a guardian ad litem.
ad locum (ad loc.) at the place Used to suggest looking for information about a term in the corresponding place in a cited work of reference.
ad lucem to the light frequently used motto for educational institutions
ad maiorem Dei gloriam (AMDG) For the greater glory of God motto of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits)
ad meliora towards better things Motto of St Patrick's College, Cavan, Ireland
ad mortem to/at death Medical phrase serving as a synonym for death
ad multos annos to many years Wish for a long life; similar to "many happy returns".
ad nauseam to sickness i.e., "to the point of disgust". Sometimes used as a humorous alternative to ad infinitum. An argumentum ad nauseam is a logical fallacy in which erroneous proof is proffered by prolonged repetition of the argument, i. e., the argument is repeated so many times that persons are "sick of it".
ad oculos to the eyes i.e., "obvious on sight" or "obvious to anyone that sees it"
ad pedem litterae to the foot of the letter i.e., "exactly as it is written", "to the letter", or "to the very last detail"
ad perpetuam memoriam to the perpetual memory Generally precedes "of" and a person's name, used to wish for someone to be remembered long after death
ad pondus omnium (ad pond om) to the weight of all things i.e., "considering everything's weight". The abbreviation was historically used by physicians and others to signify that the last prescribed ingredient is to weigh as much as all of the previously mentioned ones.
ad quod damnum to whatever damage i.e., "according to the harm" or "in proportion to the harm". The phrase is used in tort law as a measure of damages inflicted, implying that a remedy (if one exists) ought to correspond specifically and only to the damage suffered. cf. damnum absque iniuria.
ad referendum
(ad ref)
to reference i.e., subject to be proposed, provisionally approved, but still needing official approval. Not the same as a referendum.
ad rem to the matter i.e., "to the point" or "without digression"
adsumus here we are Motto of the Brazilian Marine Corps. A prayer Adsumus, Sancte Spiritus (We stand before You, Holy Spirit) is typically said at the start of every session of an Ecumenical Council or Synod of Bishops in the Catholic Church.[6]
ad susceptum perficiendum in order to achieve what has been undertaken Motto of the Association of Trust Schools
ad terminum qui praeteriit for the term which has passed Legal phrase for a writ of entry[7]
ad undas to the waves i.e., "to Hell"
ad unum to one
ad usum Delphini for the use of the Dauphin Said of a work that has been expurgated of offensive or improper parts. Originates from editions of Greek and Roman classics which King Louis XIV of France had censored for his heir apparent, the Dauphin. Also rarely in usum Delphini ("into the use of the Dauphin").
ad usum proprium (ad us. propr.) for one's own use
ad utrumque paratus prepared for either [alternative] Motto of Lund University, with the implied alternatives being the book (study) and the sword (defending the nation in war), of the United States Marine Corps' III Marine Expeditionary Force and of the Spanish Submarine Force
ad valorem according to value Used in commerce to refer to ad valorem taxes, i.e., taxes based on the assessed value of real estate or personal property
ad victoriam to/for victory Used as a battle cry by the Romans.
ad vitam aeternam to eternal life i.e., "to life everlasting". A common Biblical phrase
ad vitam aut culpam for life or until fault Used in reference to the ending of a political term upon the death or downfall of the officer (demise as in their commission of a sufficiently grave immorality and/or legal crime).
addendum thing to be added i.e., an item to be added, especially as a supplement to a book. The plural is addenda.
adaequatio rei et intellectus correspondence of mind and reality One of the classic definitions of "truth:" when the mind has the same form as reality, we think truth. Also rendered as adaequatio intellectus et rei.
adaequatio intellectus nostri cum re conformity of intellect to the fact Phrase used in epistemology regarding the nature of understanding.
adsum I am here i.e., "present!" or "here!" The opposite of absum ("I am absent").
adtigo planitia Lunae I will reach the plains of the Moon Insignia motto of the American IM-1 lunar mission.
adversus solem ne loquitor do not speak against the Sun i.e., "do not argue what is obviously/manifestly incorrect."
advocatus diaboli Devil's advocate Someone who, in the face of a specific argument, voices an argument that he does not necessarily accept, for the sake of argument and discovering the truth by testing the opponent's argument. cf. arguendo.
aegri somnia a sick man's dreams i.e., "troubled dreams". From Horace, Ars Poetica VII 7.
aes alienum foreign debt i.e., "someone else's money"
aetatis suae (aetatis, aetat. or aet.) of his age or at the age of The word aetatis means "aged" or "of age" (e.g. "aetatis 36" denotes being "of age 36" or "aged 36 years old") Appears on portraits, gravestones, monuments, etc. Usually preceded by anno (AAS), "in the year # [of his age/life]". Frequently combined with Anno Domini, giving a date as both the age of Jesus Christ and the age of the decedent. Example: "Obiit anno Domini MDCXXXVIo (tricensimo sexto), [anno] aetatis suae XXVo (vicensimo quinto)" ("he died in the 1636th year of the Lord, [being] the 25th [year] of his age[/life]").
affidavit he asserted Legal term derived from fides ("faith"), originating at least from Medieval Latin to denote a statement under oath.
age quod agis do what you do i.e., "do what you are doing," or "do well whatever you do." Figuratively, it means "keep going, because you are inspired or dedicated to do so." This is the motto of several Roman Catholic schools, and was also used by Pope John XXIII in the sense of "do not be concerned with any other matter than the task in hand;" he was allaying worry of what would become of him in the future: his sense of age quod agis was "joy" regarding what is presently occurring and "detachment" from concern of the future.[8]
agere sequitur (esse) action follows being Metaphysical and moral principle that indicates the connection of ontology, obligation, and ethics.[3]
Agnus Dei Lamb of God Refers both to the innocence of a lamb and to Christ being a sacrificial lamb after the Jewish religious practice. It is the Latin translation from John 1:36, when St. John the Baptist exclaimes "Ecce Agnus Dei!" ("Behold the Lamb of God!") upon seeing Jesus Christ.
alea iacta est the die has been cast Said by Julius Caesar (Greek: ἀνερρίφθω κύβος, anerrhíphthō kýbos) upon crossing the Rubicon in 49 BC, according to Suetonius. The original meaning was similar to "the game is afoot", but its modern meaning, like that of the phrase "crossing the Rubicon", denotes passing the point of no return on a momentous decision and entering into a risky endeavor where the outcome is left to chance.
alenda lux ubi orta libertas Let light be nourished where liberty has arisen "Light" meaning learning. Motto of Davidson College.
alias at another time, otherwise An assumed name or pseudonym; similar to alter ego, but more specifically referring to a name, not to a "second self".
alibi elsewhere Legal defense where a defendant attempts to show that he was elsewhere at the time a crime was committed (e.g. "his alibi is sound; he gave evidence that he was in another city on the night of the murder.")
aliquid stat pro aliquo something stands for something else Foundational definition in semiotics.
alis aquilae on an eagle's wings From Isaiah 40: "But those who wait for the Lord shall find their strength renewed, they shall mount up on wings like eagles, they shall run and not grow weary, they shall walk and not grow faint."
alis grave nil nothing [is] heavy with wings i.e., "nothing is heavy to those who have wings"; motto of the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
alis volat propriis she flies with her own wings Motto of the State of Oregon, adopted in 1987, replacing the previous state motto of "The Union", which was adopted in 1957.
alma mater nourishing mother Term used for the university one attends or has attended. Another university term, matriculation, is also derived from mater. The term suggests that the students are "fed" knowledge and taken care of by the university. It is also used for a university's traditional school anthem.
alter ego another I i.e., another self, a second persona or alias. Can be used to describe different facets or identities of a single character, or different characters who seem representations of the same personality. Often used of a fictional character's secret identity.
alterius non sit qui suus esse potest let no man be another's who can be his own Usually attributed to Cicero, the phrase is the final sentence in Aesop's ascribed fable "The Frogs Who Desired a King" as appears in the collection commonly known as the "Anonymus Neveleti", in Fable 21B: De ranis a Iove querentibus regem. Used as a motto by Paracelsus.
alterum non laedere to not wound another One of the three basic legal precepts in the Digest of Justinian I.
alumnus, or, alumna pupil Graduate or former student of a school, college, or university. Plural of alumnus is alumni (male). Plural of alumna is alumnae (female).
a mari usque ad mare from sea to sea From Psalm 72:8, "Et dominabitur a mari usque ad mare, et a flumine usque ad terminos terrae" (KJV: "He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth"). National motto of Canada.
amat victoria curam victory favours care Motto of several schools
amicus certus in re incerta a sure friend in an unsure matter From Ennius, as quoted by Cicero in Laelius de Amicitia, s. 64
amicus curiae friend of the court i.e., an adviser, or a person who can obtain or grant access to the favour of a powerful group (e. g., the Roman Curia). In current U.S. legal usage, an amicus curiae is a third party who is allowed to submit a legal opinion in the form of an amicus brief to the court.
Amicus Plato, sed magis amica veritas. Plato is my friend, but truth is a better friend. An assertion that truth is more valuable than friendship. Attributed to Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, 1096a15; and Roger Bacon, Opus Majus, Part 1, Chapter 5.
amicus usque ad aras a friend as far as to the altars "a friend as far as to the altars", "a friend whose only higher allegiance is to religion", "a friend to the very end".
amittere legem terrae to lose the law of the land An obsolete legal phrase signifying the forfeiture of the right of swearing in any court or cause, or to become infamous.
amor Dei intellectualis intellectual love of God From Baruch Spinoza
amor et melle et felle est fecundissimus love is rich with both honey and venom From Act One, Scene One of Plautus’ play Cistellaria.[9]
amor fati love of fate Nietzscheian alternative worldview to that represented through memento mori ("remember you must die"): Nietzsche believed amor fati was more affirmative of life.
amor omnibus idem love is the same for all From Virgil, Georgics III
amor patriae love of the fatherland i.e., "love of the nation;" patriotism
amor vincit omnia love conquers all Originally from Virgil, Eclogues X, 69: omnia vincit amor: et nos cedamus amori ("love conquers all: let us too surrender to love"). The phrase is inscribed on a bracelet worn by the Prioress in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales.
An nescis, mi fili, quantilla prudentia mundus regatur? Do you not know, my son, with how little wisdom the world is governed? Written by Axel Oxenstierna in a letter to encourage his son, a delegate to the negotiations that would lead to the Peace of Westphalia, who worried about his ability to hold his own amidst experienced and eminent statesmen and diplomats.
anglice in English Used before the anglicized version of a word or name. For example, "Terra Mariae, anglice, Maryland".
animus in consulendo liber a mind unfettered in deliberation Motto of NATO
anno (an.) in the year Also used in such phrases as anno urbis conditae (see ab urbe condita), Anno Domini, and anno regni.
anno Domini (A.D.) in the year of our Lord Abbreviation of Anno Domini Nostri Jesu Christi ("in the year of Our Lord Jesus Christ"), the predominantly-used system for dating years across the world; used with the Gregorian Calendar and based on the perceived year of the birth of Jesus Christ. The years before His birth were formerly signified by a. C. n (ante Christum natum, "before Christ was born"), but now use the English abbreviation "BC" ("before Christ"). For example, Augustus was born in the year 63 BC and died in AD 14.
anno regni In the year of the reign Precedes "of" and the current ruler
annuit cœptis he nods at things now begun i.e., "he approves our undertakings." Motto on the reverse of the Great Seal of the United States and, consequently, on the reverse of the United States one-dollar bill; in this context the motto refers to God.
annus horribilis horrible year Variation on annus mirabilis, recorded in print from 1890.[10] Notably used in a speech by Queen Elizabeth II to describe what a bad year 1992 had been for her. In Classical Latin, this phrase actually means "terrifying year". See also annus terribilis.
annus mirabilis wonderful year Used particularly to refer to the years 1665 and 1666, during which Isaac Newton made revolutionary inventions and discoveries in calculus, motion, optics and gravitation. Annus Mirabilis is also the title of a poem by John Dryden written in the same year. It has since been used to refer to other years, especially to 1905, when Albert Einstein made equally revolutionary discoveries concerning the photoelectric effect, Brownian motion, mass-energy equivalence, and the special theory of relativity. (See Annus Mirabilis papers)
annus terribilis dreadful year Used to describe 1348, the year the Black Death began to afflict Europe.
ante bellum before the war As in status quo ante bellum ("as it was before the war"); commonly used as antebellum to refer to the period preceding the American Civil War, primarily in reference to the Southern United States at that time.
ante cibum (a.c.) before food Medical shorthand for "before meals"
ante faciem Domini before the face of the Lord Motto of the Christian Brothers College, Adelaide
ante litteram before the letter Said of an expression or term that describes something which existed before the phrase itself was introduced or became common. Example: Alan Turing was a computer scientist ante litteram, since the field of "computer science" was not yet recognized in Turing's day.
ante meridiem (a.m.) before midday From midnight to noon; confer post meridiem
ante mortem before death See post mortem ("after death")
ante omnia armari before all else, be armed
ante prandium (a.p.) before lunch Used on pharmaceutical prescriptions to denote "before a meal". Less common is post prandium ("after lunch").
antiqui colant antiquum dierum let the ancients worship the ancient of days The motto of Chester
aperire terram gentibus open the land to nations Motto of Ferdinand de Lesseps referring to the Suez and Panama Canals. Also appears on a plaque at Kinshasa train station.
apparatus criticus tools of a critic Textual notes or a list of other readings relating to a document, especially in a scholarly edition of a text.
apologia pro vita sua defense of one's life[11]
apud in the writings of Used in scholarly works to cite a reference at second hand
aqua (aq.) water
aqua fortis strong water Refers to nitric acid, thus called because of its ability to dissolve all materials except gold and platinum
aqua pura pure water Or, "clear water" or "clean water"
aqua regia royal water Refers to a mixture of hydrochloric acid and nitric acid, thus called because of its ability to dissolve gold and platinum
aqua vitae water of life "Spirit of Wine" in many English texts. Used to refer to various native distilled beverages, such as whisky (uisge beatha) in Scotland and Ireland, gin in the Netherlands, brandy (eau de vie) in France, and akvavit in Scandinavia.
aquila non capit muscas an eagle does not catch flies Or, "a noble or important person does not deal with insignificant matters"
arare litus to plough the seashore Desiderius Erasmus, Adagia (AD 1508); meaning "wasted labor"
arbiter elegantiarum judge of tastes One who prescribes, rules on, or is a recognized authority on matters of social behavior and taste. Said of Petronius. Sometimes found in the singular as arbiter elegantiae ("judge of taste").
arcana imperii the secrets of power Originally used by Tacitus to refer to the state secrets and unaccountable acts of the Roman imperial government
arcanum boni tenoris animae The secret behind a good mood Motto of the Starobrno Brewery in Brno
arcus senilis bow of an old person An opaque circle around the cornea of the eye, often seen in elderly people. When it is found in patients less than 50 years old it is termed arcus juvenilis
arduus ad solem Striving towards the Sun Motto of Victoria University of Manchester
argentum album white silver Also "silver coin"; mentioned in the Domesday Book; signifies bullion or silver uncoined
arguendo for arguing Or, "for the sake of argument". Said when something is done purely in order to discuss a matter or illustrate a point. E. g., "let us assume, arguendo, that your claim is correct."
argumentum argument Or "reasoning", "inference", "appeal", or "proof". The plural is argumenta. Commonly used in the names of logical arguments and fallacies, preceding phrases such as a silentio (by silence), ad antiquitatem (to antiquity), ad baculum (to the stick), ad captandum (to capturing), ad consequentiam (to the consequence), ad crumenam (to the purse), ad feminam (to the woman), ad hominem (to the person), ad ignorantiam (to ignorance), ad invidiam (to envy/jealousy/odium/hatred/reproach – appealing to low passions), ad judicium (to judgment), ad lazarum (to poverty), ad logicam (to logic), ad metum (to fear), ad misericordiam (to pity), ad nauseam (to nausea), ad novitatem (to novelty), ad personam (to the character), ad numerum (to the number), ad odium (to spite), ad populum (to the people), ad temperantiam (to moderation), ad verecundiam (to reverence), ex silentio (from silence), in terrorem (into terror), and e contrario (from/to the opposite).
arma christi weapons of Christ also known as Instruments of the Passion are the objects associated with the Passion of Jesus Christ in Christian symbolism and art. They are seen as arms in the sense of heraldry, and also as the weapons Christ used to achieve his conquest over Satan.[12]
armata potentia armed and powerful charge made by a Justice of the Peace in Medieval England against those who rode in arms against the King's Peace.
ars celare artem art [is] to conceal art An aesthetic ideal that good art should appear natural rather than contrived. Of medieval origin, but often incorrectly attributed to Ovid.[13]
ars gratia artis art for the sake of art Translated into Latin from Baudelaire's L'art pour l'art. Motto of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. While symmetrical for the logo of MGM, the better word order in Latin is "Ars artis gratia".
ars longa, vita brevis art is long, life is short Seneca, De Brevitate Vitae, 1.1, translating a phrase of Hippocrates that is often used out of context. The "art" referred to in the original aphorism was the craft of medicine, which took a lifetime to acquire.
arte et labore by art and by labour Motto of Blackburn Rovers F.C.
arte et marte by skill and by fighting Motto of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers of the British Army and Electrical and Mechanical Engineering (EME) Branch of the Canadian Forces
Artis Bohemiae Amicis Friends of Czech Arts Award of the Minister of Culture of the Czech Republic for the promotion of the positive reputation of Czech culture abroad
asinus ad lyram an ass to the lyre Desiderius Erasmus, Adagia (AD 1508); meaning "an awkward or incompetent individual"
asinus asinum fricat the jackass rubs the jackass Used to describe 2 persons who are lavishing excessive praise on one another
assecuratus non quaerit lucrum sed agit ne in damno sit the assured does not seek profit but makes [it his profit] that he not be in loss Refers to the insurance principle that the indemnity can not be larger than the loss
astra inclinant, sed non obligant the stars incline us, they do not bind us Refers to the distinction of free will from astrological determinism
auctores varii various authors Used in bibliography for books, texts, publications, or articles that have more than 3 collaborators
auctoritas authority Level of prestige a person had in Roman society
auctoritas non veritas facit legem authority, not truth, makes law This formula appears in the 1668 Latin revised edition of Thomas Hobbes's Leviathan, book 2, chapter 26, p. 133.
audacia pro muro et scuto opus boldness is our wall, action is our shield Cornelis Jol,[14] in a bid to rally his rebellious captains to fight and conquer the Spanish treasure fleet in 1638.
audacter calumniare, semper aliquid haeret slander boldly, something always sticks Francis Bacon, De Augmentis Scientiarum (AD 1623)
audax at fidelis bold but faithful Motto of Queensland, Australia
audeamus let us dare Motto of the Canadian Special Operations Regiment [CSOR] on their regimental coat of arms; of Otago University Students' Association, a direct response to the university's motto of sapere aude ("dare to be wise"); and of Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont.
audemus jura nostra defendere we dare to defend our rights Motto of the State of Alabama, adopted in 1923; translated into Latin from a paraphrase of the stanza "Men who their duties know / But know their rights, and knowing, dare maintain" from William Jones, "What Constitutes a State?"
audentes fortuna iuvat Fortune favors the bold From Virgil, Aeneid, Book 10, 284, where the first word is in an archaic form, audentis fortuna iuvat. Allegedly the last words of Pliny the Elder before he left the docks at Pompeii to rescue people from the eruption of Vesuvius in 79. Often quoted as audaces fortuna iuvat. Also the motto of the Portuguese Army Commandos and the USS Montpelier in the latter form.
audere est facere to dare is to do Motto of Tottenham Hotspur F.C.
audi alteram partem hear the other side Legal principle; also worded as audiatur et altera pars ("let the other side be heard also")
audio hostem I hear the enemy Motto of the 845 NAS Royal Navy
audi, vide, tace hear, see, be silent
aurea mediocritas golden mean From Horace's Odes, 2, 10. Refers to the ethical goal of reaching a virtuous middle ground between two sinful extremes. The golden mean concept is common to many philosophers, chiefly Aristotle.
auri sacra fames accursed hunger for gold From Virgil, Aeneid, Book 3, 57. Later quoted by Seneca as quod non mortalia pectora coges, auri sacra fames ("what do not you force mortal hearts [to do], accursed hunger for gold").
auribus teneo lupum I hold a wolf by the ears Common ancient proverb, this version from Terence. It indicates that one is in a dangerous situation where both holding on and letting go could be deadly. A modern version is "to have a tiger by the tail".
aurora australis southern dawn The Southern Lights, an aurora that appears in the Southern Hemisphere. It is less well-known than the Northern Lights (aurorea borealis). The Aurora Australis is also the name of an Antarctic icebreaker ship.
aurora borealis northern dawn The Northern Lights, an aurora that appears in the Northern Hemisphere.
aurora musis amica dawn is a friend to the muses Title of a distich by Iohannes Christenius (1599–1672): "Conveniens studiis non est nox, commoda lux est; / Luce labor bonus est et bona nocte quies." ("Night is not suitable for studying, daylight is; / working by light is good, as is rest at night."); in Nihus, Barthold (1642). Epigrammata disticha. Johannes Kinckius.
aurum potestas est gold is power Motto of the fictional Fowl Family in the Artemis Fowl series, written by Eoin Colfer
auspicium melioris aevi hope/token of a better age Motto of the Order of St Michael and St George and of Raffles Institution in Singapore
aut Caesar aut nihil either Caesar or nothing Denotes an absolute aspiration to become the Emperor, or the equivalent supreme magistrate, and nothing else. More generally, "all or nothing". A personal motto of Cesare Borgia. Charlie Chaplin also used the phrase in The Great Dictator to ridicule Hynkel's (Chaplin's parody of Hitler) ambition for power, but substituted "nullus" for "nihil".
aut consilio aut ense either by meeting or the sword I. e., either through reasoned discussion or through war. It was the first motto of Chile (see coat of arms), changed to Spanish: Por la razón o la fuerza. Name of episode 1 in season 3 of Berlin Station.
aut cum scuto aut in scuto either with shield or on shield Or, "do or die" or "no retreat". A Greek expression («Ἢ τὰν ἢ ἐπὶ τᾶς») that Spartan mothers said to their sons as they departed for battle. It refers to the practices that a Greek hoplite would drop his cumbersome shield in order to flee the battlefield, and a slain warrior would be borne home atop his shield.
aut imiteris aut oderis imitate or loathe it Seneca the Younger, Epistulae morales ad Lucilium, 7:7. From the full phrase: "necesse est aut imiteris aut oderis" ("you must either imitate or loathe the world").
aut neca aut necare either kill or be killed Also: "neca ne neceris" ("kill lest you be killed")
aut pax aut bellum either peace or war Motto of the Gunn Clan
aut simul stabunt aut simul cadent they will either stand together or fall together Said of two situations that can only occur simultaneously: if one ends, so does the other, and vice versa.[15]
aut viam inveniam aut faciam I will either find a way or make one Hannibal
aut vincere aut mori either to conquer or to die General pledge of victoria aut mors ("victory or death"). Motto of the Higgenbotham and Higginbottom families of Cheshire, England; participants in the War of the Roses. Also the motto for the United States 1st Fighter Wing, Langley Air Force Base in Virginia.
ave atque vale hail and farewell Catullus, Carmen 101, addressed to his deceased brother
ave Europa nostra vera patria hail Europe, our true fatherland Anthem of Imperium Europa
Ave Imperator, morituri te salutant Hail, Emperor! Those who are about to die salute you! From Suetonius' The Twelve Caesars, Claudius 21. A salute and plea for mercy recorded on one occasion by naumachiarii–captives and criminals fated to die fighting during mock naval encounters. Later versions included a variant of "We who are about to die", and this translation is sometimes aided by changing the Latin to nos morituri te salutamus.
Ave Maria Hail, Mary Roman Catholic prayer of intercession asking St. Mary, the Mother of Jesus Christ to pray for the petitioner
ave mater Angliae Hail, Mother of England Motto of Canterbury, England


  1. ^ a b Potter, David S. (2014). The Roman Empire at Bay, AD 180–395. Routledge. p. 77. ISBN 9781134694778.
  2. ^ An explanation of Livy's usage.
  3. ^ a b Bretzke, James T. 1998. Consecrated Phrases: a Latin Theological Dictionary: Latin Expressions Commonly Found in Theological Writings. Liturgical Press. ISBN 0-8146-5880-6, 978-0-8146-5880-2. p. 10.
  4. ^ "Actore non probante reus absolvitur", Ballantine's Law Dictionary (1916) – via
  5. ^ "ad interim". The World's Fastest Dictionary.
  6. ^ United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Adsumus, Sancte Spiritus: Prayer of invocation to the Holy Spirit for an ecclesial assembly of governance or discernment (thus synodal), accessed 30 July 2022
  7. ^ Blackstone, William. "Of Injuries to Real Property, and First of Dispossession, or Ouster, of the Freehold". Ch. 10 in Commentaries on the Laws of England 3. n. 47.
  8. ^ Pope John XXIII, Journal of a Soul, pp. 154–155
  9. ^ "T. Maccius Plautus, Cistellaria, or The Casket, act 1, scene 1". Retrieved 2021-07-24.
  10. ^ "annus horribilis". Webster's Dictionary. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  11. ^ "apologia pro vita sua". Merriam-Webster.
  12. ^ The Arma Christi in Medieval and Early Modern Material Culture: With a Critical Edition of 'O Vernicle'. Routledge. 5 December 2016. ISBN 9781351894616.
  13. ^ Peter Jones (2006). Reading Ovid: Stories from the Metamorphoses. Cambridge University Press. p. 223. ISBN 0-521-84901-2.
  14. ^ C. Barlaeus, Rerum per octennium in Brasilia et alibi nuper gestarum
  15. ^ "Quando i politici si rifugiano nel latino", La Repubblica, 7 July 2004.

Additional references