List of Latin phrases (M)
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 M. See List of Latin phrases for the main list.
|Macte animo! Generose puer sic itur ad astra||Young, cheer up! This is the way to the skies.||Motto of Academia da Força Aérea (Air Force Academy) of the Brazilian Air Force|
|macte virtute sic itur ad astra||those who excel, thus reach the stars||or "excellence is the way to the stars"; frequent motto; from Virgil's Aeneid IX.641 (English, Dryden)|
|magister dixit||the teacher has said it||Canonical medieval reference to Aristotle, precluding further discussion|
|magister meus Christus||Christ is my teacher||common Catholic edict and motto of a Catholic private school, Andrean High School in Merrillville, Indiana|
|Magna Carta||Great Charter||Set of documents from 1215 between Pope Innocent III, King John of England, and English barons.|
|magna cum laude||with great praise||Common Latin honor, above cum laude and below summa cum laude|
|magna di curant, parva neglegunt||The gods care about great matters, but they neglect small ones||Cicero, De Natura Deorum 2:167|
|magna est vis consuetudinis||great is the power of habit|
|Magna Europa est patria nostra||Greater Europe is Our Fatherland||Political motto of pan-Europeanists|
|magno cum gaudio||with great joy|
|magnum opus||great work||Said of someone's masterpiece|
|magnum vectigal est parsimonia||Economy is a great revenue||Cicero, Paradoxa 6/3:49. Sometimes translated into English as "thrift (or frugality) is a great revenue (or income)", edited from its original subordinate clause: "O di immortales! non intellegunt homines, quam magnum vectigal sit parsimonia." (English: O immortal gods! Men do not understand what a great revenue is thrift.)|
|maior e longinquo reverentia||greater reverence from afar||When viewed from a distance, everything is beautiful. Tacitus, Annales 1.47|
|maiora premunt||greater things are pressing||Used to indicate that it is the moment to address more important, urgent, issues.|
|mala fide||in bad faith||Said of an act done with knowledge of its illegality, or with intention to defraud or mislead someone. Opposite of bona fide.|
|Mala Ipsa Nova||Bad News Itself||Motto of the inactive 495th Fighter Squadron, US Air Force|
|mala tempora currunt||bad times are upon us||Also used ironically, e.g.: New teachers know all tricks used by pupils to copy from classmates? Oh, mala tempora currunt!.|
|male captus bene detentus||wrongly captured, properly detained||An illegal arrest will not prejudice the subsequent detention/trial.|
|Malo mori quam foedari||Death rather than dishonour||Motto of the inactive 34th Battalion (Australia), the Drimnagh Castle Secondary School|
|malo periculosam libertatem quam quietum servitium||I prefer liberty with danger to peace with slavery||attributed to the Count Palatine of Posen before the Diet of Poland, cited in "The Social Contract or Principles of Political Right" by Jean Jacques Rousseau|
|malum discordiae||apple of discord||Alludes to the apple of Eris in the Judgement of Paris, the mythological cause of the Trojan War. It is also a pun based on the near-homonymous word malum (evil). The word for "apple" has a long ā vowel in Latin and the word for "evil" a short a vowel, but they are normally written the same.|
|malum in se||wrong in itself||A legal term meaning that something is inherently wrong (cf. malum prohibitum).|
|malum prohibitum||wrong due to being prohibited||A legal term meaning that something is only wrong because it is against the law.|
|malum quo communius eo peius||the more common an evil is, the worse it is|
|manu forte||literally translated means 'with a strong hand', often quoted as 'by strength of hand'||Motto of the Clan McKay|
|manibus date lilia plenis||give lilies with full hands||A phrase from Virgil's Aeneid, VI.883, mourning the death of Marcellus, Augustus' nephew. Quoted by Dante as he leaves Virgil in Purgatory, XXX.21, echoed by Walt Whitman in Leaves of Grass III, 6.|
|manu militari||with a military hand||Using armed forces in order to achieve a goal|
|manu propria (m.p.)||with one's own hand||With the implication of "signed by one's hand". Its abbreviated form is sometimes used at the end of typewritten or printed documents or official notices, directly following the name of the person(s) who "signed" the document exactly in those cases where there isn't an actual handwritten signature.|
|manus manum lavat||one hand washes the other||famous quote from The Pumpkinification of Claudius, ascribed to Seneca the Younger. It implies that one situation helps the other.|
|manus multae cor unum||many hands, one heart||Motto of the Alpha Delta Phi Fraternity.|
|manus nigra||black hand|
|marcet sine adversario virtus||valor becomes feeble without an opponent||Seneca the Younger, De Providentia 2:4. Also, translated into English as "[their] strength and courage droop without an antagonist" ("Of Providence" (1900) by Seneca, translated by Aubrey Stewart), "without an adversary, prowess shrivels" (Moral Essays (1928) by Seneca, translated by John W, Basore) and "prowess withers without opposition".|
|mare clausum||closed sea||In law, a sea under the jurisdiction of one nation and closed to all others.|
|Mare Ditat, Rosa Decorat||The sea enriches, the rose adorns||Motto of Montrose, Angus and HMS Montrose|
|mare liberum||free sea||In law, a sea open to international shipping navigation.|
|mare nostrum||our sea||A nickname given to the Mediterranean Sea during the height of the Roman Empire, as it encompassed the entire coastal basin.|
|Mater Dei||Mother of God||A name given to describe Mary, who gave birth to Jesus, who is also called the Son of God.|
|mater familias||the mother of the family||The female head of a family. See pater familias.|
|Mater semper certa est||the mother is always certain||a Roman-law principle which has the power of praesumptio iuris et de iure, meaning that no counter-evidence can be made against this principle (literally: Presumed there is no counter evidence and by the law). Its meaning is that the mother of the child is always known.|
|materia medica||medical matter||Branch of medical science concerned with the study of drugs used in the treatment of disease. Also, the drugs themselves.|
|maxima debetur puero reverentia||greatest deference is owed to the child||from Juvenal's Satires XIV:47|
|me vexat pede||it annoys me at the foot||Less literally, "my foot itches". Refers to a trivial situation or person that is being a bother, possibly in the sense of wishing to kick that thing away or, such as the commonly used expressions, a "pebble in one's shoe" or "nipping at one's heels".|
|mea culpa||through my fault||Used in Christian prayers and confession to denote the inherently flawed nature of mankind; can also be extended to mea maxima culpa (through my greatest fault).|
|mea navis aëricumbens anguillis abundat||My hovercraft is full of eels||A relatively common recent Latinization inspired by the Dirty Hungarian Phrasebook sketch by Monty Python.|
|media vita in morte sumus||In the midst of our lives we die||A well-known sequence, falsely attributed to Notker during the Middle Ages. It was translated by Cranmer and became a part of the burial service in the funeral rites of the Anglican Book of Common Prayer.|
|Mediolanum captum est||Milan has been captured||Used erroneously as Mediolanum Capta Est by the black metal band Mayhem as an album title. Mediolanum was an ancient city in present-day Milan, Italy.|
|meliora||better things||Carrying the connotation of "always better". The motto of the University of Rochester.|
|Meliorare legem meliorare vitam est||To improve the law is to improve life.||The motto of the Salem/Roanoke County, Virginia Bar Association.|
|Meliorem lapsa locavit||He has planted one better than the one fallen.||The motto of the Belmont County, Ohio, and the motto in the seal of the Northwest Territory|
|Melita, domi adsum||Honey, I'm home!||A relatively common recent Latinization from the joke phrasebook Latin for All Occasions. Grammatically correct, but the phrase would be anachronistic in ancient Rome.|
|memento mori||remember that [you will] die||remember your mortality|
|memento vivere||remember to live|
|meminerunt omnia amantes||lovers remember all|
|memores acti prudentes futuri||mindful of things done, aware of things to come||Thus, both remembering the past and foreseeing the future. From the North Hertfordshire District Council coat of arms.|
|Memoriae Sacrum (M.S.)||Sacred to the
Memory (of ...)
|A common first line on 17th century English church monuments. The Latinized name of the deceased follows, in the genitive case. Alternatively it may be used as a heading, the inscription following being in English, for example: "Memoriae Sacrum. Here lies the body of ..."|
|mens agitat molem||the mind moves the mass||From Virgil. Motto of Newcastle University, Rossall School, the University of Oregon, the University of Warwick and the Eindhoven University of Technology.|
|mens et manus||mind and hand||Motto of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and also of the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.|
|mens rea||guilty mind||Also "culprit mind". A term used in discussing the mindset of an accused criminal.|
|mens sana in corpore sano||a sound mind in a sound body||Or "a sensible mind in a healthy body". Satire X of the Roman poet Juvenal (10.356)|
|metri causa||for the sake of the metre||Excusing flaws in poetry "for the sake of the metre"|
|Miles Gloriosus||Glorious Soldier||Or "Boastful Soldier". Miles Gloriosus is the title of a play of Plautus. A stock character in comedy, the braggart soldier. (It is said that at Salamanca, there is a wall, on which graduates inscribe their names, where Francisco Franco had a plaque installed reading "Franciscus Francus Miles Gloriosus".)|
|miles praesidii libertatis||Soldier of the Bastion of Freedom||A phrase on the plaque in commemoration of Prof. Benjamin Marius Telders, Academiegebouw Leiden (Netherlands).|
|mictus cruentus||bloody urine||see hematuria|
|minatur innocentibus qui parcit nocentibus||he threatens the innocent who spares the guilty|
|mirabile dictu||wonderful to tell||Virgil|
|mirabile visu||wonderful to see||A Roman phrase used to describe a wonderful event/happening.|
|mirum videtur quod sit factum iam diu||Does it seem wonderful [merely] because it was done a long time/so long ago?||Livius Andronicus, Aiax Mastigophorus.|
|miscerique probat populos et foedera jungi||He approves of the mingling of the peoples and their bonds of union||Latin Aeneid of Virgil, Book IV, line 112, "he" referring to the great Roman god, who approved of the settlement of Romans in Africa. Old Motto of Trinidad and Tobago, and used in the novel A Bend in the River by V. S. Naipaul.|
|misera est servitus ubi jus est aut incognitum aut vagum||miserable is that state of slavery in which the law is unknown or uncertain||Quoted by Samuel Johnson in his paper for James Boswell on Vicious intromission.|
|miserabile visu||terrible to see||A terrible happening or event.|
|miserere nobis||have mercy upon us||A phrase within the Gloria in Excelsis Deo and the Agnus Dei, to be used at certain points in Christian religious ceremonies.|
|Missio Dei||the Mission of God||A theological phrase in the Christian religion.|
|missit me Dominus||the Lord has sent me||A phrase used by Jesus.|
|mittimus||we send||A warrant of commitment to prison, or an instruction for a jailer to hold someone in prison.|
|mobilis in mobili||"moving in a moving thing" or, poetically, "changing through the changing medium"||The motto of the Nautilus from the Jules Verne novel Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.|
|—||Dog Latin based on wordplay with modus ponens and modus tollens, referring to the common logical fallacy that if P then Q and not P, then one can conclude not Q (cf. denying the antecedent and contraposition).|
|modus operandi (M.O.)||method of operating||Usually used to describe a criminal's methods.|
|modus ponens||method of placing||Loosely "method of affirming", a logical rule of inference stating that from propositions if P then Q and P, then one can conclude Q.|
|modus tollens||method of removing||Loosely "method of denying", a logical rule of inference stating that from propositions if P then Q and not Q, then one can conclude not P.|
|modus vivendi||method of living||An accommodation between disagreeing parties to allow life to go on. A practical compromise.|
|Monasterium sine libris est sicut civitas sine opibus||A monastery without books is like a city without wealth||Used in the Umberto Eco novel The Name of the Rose. Part of a much larger phrase: Monasterium sine libris, est sicut civitas sine opibus, castrum sine numeris, coquina sine suppellectili, mensa sine cibis, hortus sine herbis, pratum sine floribus, arbor sine foliis. Translation: A monastery without books is like a city without wealth, a fortress without soldiers, a kitchen without utensils, a table without food, a garden without plants, a meadow without flowers, a tree without leaves.|
|montani semper liberi||mountaineers [are] always free||State motto of West Virginia, adopted in 1872.|
|Montis Insignia Calpe||Badge of the Rock of Gibraltar|
|more ferarum||like beasts||used to describe any sexual act in the manner of beasts|
|morior invictus||I die unvanquished||sometimes also translated as "death before defeat"|
|morituri nolumus mori||we who are about to die don't want to||From Terry Pratchett's The Last Hero|
|morituri te salutant||those who are about to die salute you||Used once in Suetonius' De Vita Caesarum 5, (Divus Claudius), chapter 21, by the condemned prisoners manning galleys about to take part in a mock naval battle on Lake Fucinus in AD 52. Popular misconception ascribes it as a gladiator's salute. See also: Ave Imperator, morituri te salutant and Naumachia.|
|mors certa, hora incerta||death is certain, its hour is uncertain|
|mors mihi lucrum||death to me is reward||A common epitaph, from St Paul's Epistle to the Philippians, 1:21 (Mihi enim vivere Christus est et mori lucrum, translated in the King James Bible as: "For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain")|
|mors omnibus||death to all||Signifies anger and depression.|
|mors tua, vita mea||your death, my life||From medieval Latin, it indicates that battle for survival, where your defeat is necessary for my victory, survival.|
|mors vincit omnia||"death conquers all" or "death always wins"||An axiom often found on headstones.|
|morte magis metuenda senectus||old age should rather be feared than death||from Juvenal in his Satires|
|mortui vivos docent||The dead teach the living||Used to justify dissections of human cadavers in order to understand the cause of death.|
|mortuum flagellas||you are flogging a dead||From Gerhard Gerhards' (1466–1536) [better known as Erasmus] collection of annotated Adagia (1508). Criticising one who will not be affected in any way by the criticism.|
|mos maiorum||the custom of our ancestors||an unwritten code of laws and conduct, of the Romans. It institutionalized cultural traditions, societal mores, and general policies, as distinct from written laws.|
|motu proprio||on his own initiative||Or "by his own accord." Identifies a class of papal documents, administrative papal bulls.|
|mulgere hircum||to milk a male goat||From Gerhard Gerhards' (1466–1536) [better known as Erasmus] collection of annotated Adagia (1508). Attempting the impossible.|
|mulier est hominis confusio||woman is man's ruin||"Part of a comic definition of woman" from the Altercatio Hadriani Augusti et Secundi. Famously quoted by Chauntecleer in Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales.|
|multa paucis||Say much in few words|
|multis e gentibus vires||from many peoples, strength||Motto of Saskatchewan|
|multitudo sapientium sanitas orbis||a multitude of the wise is the health of the world||From the Vulgate, Wisdom of Solomon 6:24. Motto of the University of Victoria.|
|multum in parvo||much in little||Conciseness. The term "mipmap" is formed using the phrase's abbreviation "MIP"; motto of Rutland, a county in central England.
Latin phrases are often multum in parvo, conveying much in few words.
|mundus senescit||the world grows old|
|mundus vult decipi||the world wants to be deceived||Ascribed to Roman satirist Petronius. Also in Augustine of Hippo's De Civitate Dei contra Paganos (5th century AD), Sebastian Franck's Paradoxa Ducenta Octoginta (1542), and in James Branch Cabell's 1921 novel Figures of Earth.|
|mundus vult decipi, ergo decipiatur||the world wants to be deceived, so let it be deceived||Ascribed to Roman satirist Petronius. Also in Augustine of Hippo's De Civitate Dei contra Paganos (5th century AD) as "si mundus vult decipi, decipiatur" ("if the world will be gulled, let it be gulled"), and only the first part, "mundus vult decipi" ("the world wants to be deceived"), in Sebastian Franck's Paradoxa Ducenta Octoginta (1542) and in James Branch Cabell's Figures of Earth (1921).|
|munit haec et altera vincit||this one defends and the other one conquers||Motto of Nova Scotia.|
|mutatis mutandis||after changing what needed to be changed||"with the appropriate changes"|
|mutato nomine de te fabula narratur||change but the name, and the story is told of yourself||Horace, Satires, I. 1. 69. Preceded by Quid rides? ("Why do you laugh?"; see Quid rides).|
- Harbottle, Thomas Benfield (1906). Dictionary of Quotations (Classical). The Macmillan Co.
- Seneca, Lucius Annaeus (1900). Minor Dialogs: Together with the Dialog On Clemency. Translated by Aubrey Stewart. London: George Bell & Sons. OCLC 811117949.
- Seneca, Lucius Annaeus (1928). Moral Essays. Translated by John W. Basore. London, New York: William Heinemann, G. P. Putnam's Sons. OCLC 685728.
- "morior invictus". eudict.com.
- "Divus Claudius". thelatinlibrary.com.
- Larry D. Benson, ed. The Riverside Chaucer. 3rd ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1987. p. 939, n. 3164.
- Martínez, Javier (2012). Mundus vult decipi. Madrid: Ediciones Clásicas. p. 9. ISBN 84-7882-738-2.
- Harbottle, Thomas Benfield (1906). Dictionary of Quotations (Classical). The Macmillan Co.
- Burton, Robert (1990). Kiessling, Nicolas K.; Faulkner, Thomas C.; Blair, Rhonda L., eds. The Anatomy of Melancholy, Part 3, Sect. 4. Memb. 1. Subs. 2. Vol. 3. Oxford University Press. p. 347.
- Wyttenbach, Daniel (translator) (1828). Plutarchus, and Theophrastus, on Superstition; with Various Appendices, and a Life of Plutarchus. Kentish Town: Julian Hibbert. First Appendix, p. 5.
- Adeleye, Gabriel G. (1999). Thomas J. Sienkewicz; James T. McDonough, Jr., eds. World Dictionary of Foreign Expressions. Wauconda, IL: Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers, Inc. ISBN 0865164223.
- Hardon, John, Fr., Modern Catholic Dictionary
- Stone, Jon R. (1996). Latin for the Illiterati. London & New York: Routledge. ISBN 0415917751.