Solvitur ambulando

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Solvitur ambulando /ˈsɒlvɪtər ˌæmbjʊˈlænd/[1] is a Latin term which means:

  • It is solved by walking
  • The problem is solved by a practical experiment

Diogenes of Sinope, also known as "Diogenes the Cynic", is said to have replied to Zeno's paradoxes on the unreality of motion by standing up and walking away.[2]


The phrase appears early in Lewis Carroll's "What the Tortoise Said to Achilles", where Achilles uses it to accentuate that he was indeed successful in overtaking Tortoise in their race to empirically test one of Zeno's paradoxes of motion. This passage also appears in Douglas Hofstadter's book Gödel, Escher, Bach (1979).

In Dorothy L. Sayers's Clouds of Witness (1926), during the Duke of Denver's trial before the House of Lords, the Lord High Steward suggests (to laughter) solvitur ambulando to determine whether the decedent crawled or was dragged to a different location, as this was a matter of dispute between the prosecution and the defense.

The phrase is also cited in "Walking" (1861) by Henry David Thoreau and in The Songlines (1986) by Bruce Chatwin in its first meaning. Chatwin, who 'passionately believed that walking constituted the sovereign remedy for every mental travail' learned it from Patrick Leigh Fermor and immediately wrote it down in his Moleskine notebook.[3]

The phrase is discussed multiple times and at some length in The Tao of Travel (2011) by Paul Theroux.

The phrase was used several times by Aleister Crowley in his writings.[4][5]

The phrase was the motto of the Royal Air Forces Escaping Society.

The phrase was used several times by dr Oliver Sacks in his writings (A Leg To Stand On etc.).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "solvitur ambulando". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005.  (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  2. ^ Diogenes Laërtius, vi. 39: "when somebody declared that there is no such thing as motion, [Diogenes of Sinope] got up and walked about [ἀναστὰς περιεπάτει]."
  3. ^ Cooper, Artemis, Patrick Leigh Fermor: An Adventure (2012), p.373, ISBN 978-0-7195-5449-0.
  4. ^ Crowley, Aleister. 777 and Other Qabalistic Writings of Aleister Crowley : Including Gematria & Sepher Sephiroth. York Beach, ME: Samuel Weiser, 1977. p. 42. ISBN 0-87728-222-6. 
  5. ^ Crowley, Aleister; Desti, Mary; Waddell, Leila; Hymenaeus Beta (ed) (1 January 1998). Magick: Liber ABA, Book Four, Parts I-IV. Red Wheel/Weiser. p. 143. ISBN 978-0-87728-919-7. 


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