Nullius in verba

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Nullius in verba (Latin for "on the word of no one" or "Take nobody's word for it") is the motto of the Royal Society. John Evelyn and other Royal Society fellows chose the motto soon after the founding of the Society.[1] The current Royal Society website explains the motto thus:

It is an expression of the determination of Fellows to withstand the domination of authority and to verify all statements by an appeal to facts determined by experiment.[2]

The phrase came from Horace's Epistle to his benefactor Maecenas,[3][4] where he claims not to be devoted to any particular sect but is rather an eclectic by nature.[5]

These are the words, forming two hexameters in the original context: Nullius addictus iurare in verba magistri, – quo me cumque rapit tempestas, deferor hospes." ("(being) not obliged to swear allegiance to a master, wherever the storm drags me to, I turn in as a guest.")[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hunter, Michael Cyril William (1995). Establishing the New Science: The Experience of the Early Royal Society. Boydell Press. p. 17. ISBN 0851155065. 
  2. ^ "Royal Society history". Royal Society website. Retrieved 18 February 2013. 
  3. ^ Shuckburgh, E.S. (1888). The Epistles of Horace, Book I. Cambridge. p. 1.  (Latin)
  4. ^ Francis, Philip (1846). Horace Vol. II. Harper & Brothers. p. 9.  (English translation)
  5. ^ Horace (1753). The Works of Horace, Vol. II. Davidson. p. 206.  (see footnote)
  6. ^ Horace: Epistles, Book I, epistle I, lines 14 and 15