Nullius in verba
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 fellows of the Royal Society chose the motto soon after the Society's founding in 1660.
Meaning and etymology
The Royal Society website says that the motto 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."
The phrase comes from Horace's Epistle to his benefactor Maecenas, where he claims not to be devoted to any particular sect but is rather an eclectic by nature. The motto was extracted from the first of two hexameters, as indicated in bold:
Nullius addictus iurare in verba magistri, – quo me cumque rapit tempestas, deferor hospes.
("(being) not obliged to swear in words (allegiance) to a master, wherever the storm drags me, I am turned in as a guest.")
- "History of theRoyal Society". The Royal Society. Retrieved 19 July 2021.
- Hunter, Michael Cyril William (1995). Establishing the New Science: The Experience of the Early Royal Society. Boydell Press. p. 17. ISBN 0851155065.
- Shuckburgh, E.S. (1888). The Epistles of Horace, Book I. Cambridge. p. 1. (Latin)
- Francis, Philip (1846). Horace Vol. II. Harper & Brothers. p. 9. (English translation)
- Horace (1753). The Works of Horace, Vol. II. Davidson. p. 206. (see footnote)
- Horace: Epistles, Book I, epistle I, lines 14 and 15
- (11059) Nulliusinverba, International Astronomical Union, Minor Planet Center
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- Stirling, Andy (2011). "Intolerance: retain healthy scepticism". Nature. 471 (7338): 305. doi:10.1038/471305a. ISSN 0028-0836.
- Livermore, Martin (2013). "Nullius in verba: take nobody's word for it. The Royal Society should encourage more debate, says The Scientific Alliance". cambridgenetwork.co.uk. Cambridge: Cambridge Network. Archived from the original on 2016-06-06.
- Media related to Nullius in verba at Wikimedia Commons