Tempus fugit

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See also: Time Flies.
An example of the phrase as a sundial motto in Redu, Belgium.

Tempus fugit is a Latin phrase, usually translated into English as "time flies". The expression comes from line 284 of book 3 of Virgil's Georgics,[1] where it appears as FUGIT INREPARABILE TEMPUS: "it escapes, irretrievable time". The phrase is used in both its Latin and English forms as a proverb that "time's a-wasting". Tempus fugit, however, is typically employed as an admonition against sloth and procrastination (cf. carpe diem) rather than a motto in favor of licentiousness (cf. "gather ye rosebuds while ye may"); the English form is often merely descriptive: "time flies like the wind", "time flies when you're having fun".

The phrase's full appearance in the Georgics is:

OMNE ADEO GENUS IN TERRIS HOMINUM QVE FERARUM QVE Thus every Creature , and of every Kind ,
The secret Joys of sweet Coition find :
Not only Man's Imperial Race ; . . .
Nay, every race on earth of men, and beasts,
That wing the liquid Air ; or swim the Sea ,
Or haunt the Desart , . . .
And ocean-folk, and flocks, and painted birds,
IN FURIAS IGNEM QVE RUVNT AMOR OMNIBUS IDEM...             . . . rush into the flame :
For Love is Lord of all ; and is in all the same .
Rush to the raging fire: love sways them all.
SED FUGIT INTEREA FUGIT INREPARABILE TEMPUS But time is lost , which never will renew , Fast flies meanwhile the irreparable hour,
SINGULA DUM CAPTI CIRCUMVECTAMUR AMORE While we too far the pleasing Path pursue ;
Surveying Nature , with too nice a view .
As point to point our charmed round we trace.

The phrase is a common motto, particularly on sundials and clocks.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Vergilius Maro, Publius. Georgicon, III. c. 29 BC. Hosted at Wikisource. (Latin)
  2. ^ Dryden, John (trans.). The Works of Virgil: Containing His Pastorals, Georgics, and Æneis, 3rd ed., Vol. I, pp. 163–166. Jacob Tonson (London), 1709. Hosted at Google Books. Accessed 30 May 2014.
  3. ^ Rhoades, James (trans.). Bucolics, Aeneid, and Georgics of Vergil. Ginn & Co. (Boston), 1900. Hosted at MIT. Accessed 30 May 2014.

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