The Days of the Week in French
“Les jours de la semaine” in French. From Monday to Friday and beyond.
Forget about ‘carpe diem’. It’s time to ‘veni, vidi, vici’ like a veritable Julius Caesar.
Far from being a dead language, Latin is very much alive in our day-to-day conversations. Carpe diem, et cetera, cum laude, curriculum vitae and mea culpa are just a few of the Latin phrases still widely used today. It’s unclear whether Latin made a comeback or it has been this cool for hundreds of years. But one thing is sure: Latin phrases are nowadays the cooler siblings of slang words. And Julius Caesar approves this message.
No, really. Didn’t you notice how inserting some Latin words here and there automatically makes someone look smarter? Even the dullest conversation can become an erudite discussion if you use the right Latin sayings. Here’s proof:
— Do you want the chocolate ice cream or the vanilla ice cream?
— The vanilla ice cream. You know me: semper fidelis to the vanilla.
As you probably already guessed, semper fidelis means ’always faithful’ or ‘always loyal’. So yeah, Q.E.D. or quod erat demonstrandum (’what was to be demonstrated’) – which, by the way, is the mic drop of Latin phrases. To show off how you logically proved something, use Q.E.D. confidently at the end of your conclusion. You’ll impress everyone with your exquisite choice of words.
Before diving into the really cool Latin words and phrases, we have to make a quick stop in the ‘most common Latin phrases’ station. You know what they say — you can’t fully enjoy the main course without a proper aperitif. So let’s start with the meaning of carpe diem, ad hoc, status quo, et cetera.
But first, a quick remark. Avoid using Latin sayings and phrases ad nauseam (’to a sickening or excessive degree’) in your discourse. While they may impress your friends (and foes) if used mindfully, the contrary can also be true if you’re too overzealous.
These are nearly as famous as Julius Caesar himself.
1. Veni, vidi, vici.
I came, I saw, I conquered.
Famously attributed to Julius Caesar in a message he supposedly sent to the Roman Senate to describe his swift, conclusive victory against King Pharnaces II of Pontus near Zela in 47 BC.
2. Alea iacta est.
The die has been cast.
Another Latin phrase said by Julius Caesar upon crossing the Rubicon to enter Italy and begin the long civil war against Pompey and the Optimates. The meaning of this phrase refers to the point of no return.
3. Carpe diem.
Seize the day.
Probably the most popular Latin phrase of modern times. Luckily, we have an even better one: carpe vinum. Literally ‘seize the wine’. The only Latin phrase you’ll ever need on a Friday night out. And speaking of night, you should also remember the carpe noctem variation which literally translates to ‘seize the night’. Either way, the general meaning is to make the most of everything.
4. Cogito, ergo sum.
I think, therefore I am.
A dictum (‘a short statement that expresses a general truth’) coined by French philosopher René Descartes in Latin.
What Descartes doesn’t know is that nowadays people prefer the bibo, ergo sum version which literally means “I drink, therefore I am”.
5. In vino veritas.
In wine, there is truth.
Be careful if you carpe vinum on that Friday night out we talked about. This Latin saying suggests that you’ll probably spill all your secrets if you drink too much alcohol.
6. Et tu, Brute?
“And you, Brutus?”
Or “You too, Brutus?”. This Latin quote appears in William Shakespeare’s play “Julius Caesar” at the very moment of Caesar’s assassination. Upon recognizing his friend, Marcus Junius Brutus, as one of the assassins, Julius Caesar utters these last words.
That scene is very tragic indeed, but nowadays, the phrase can be used jokingly to condemn a friend’s change of heart.
7. Acta, non verba.
Deeds, not words.
Similar to res, non verba, the English equivalent of this phrase is “actions speak louder than words”. In other words, act upon it or always follow your declarations with actions.
8. Carthago delenda est.
Carthage must be destroyed.
Prior to the Third Punic War between Rome and Carthage, Cato the Censor, a Roman politician, used to conclude all his speeches to the Senate with this phrase. While he did this in an attempt to push for the war, nowadays the expression can be used figuratively as a way to express your absolute support for an idea.
You probably heard these but never knew what they meant. It’s time to change that.
Do you know what’s the coolest thing about these following cool Latin phrases? They’re evergreen. If time travel gets invented in a few years, these phrases are gonna come in handy regardless of the century you choose to travel to. Besides, this selection includes only the most relevant expressions so you don’t have to worry about redundancy.
Get ready to bring your Roman alter ego to life in 3… 2… 1. Go!
Laughing corrects morals.
According to this phrase, one supposedly corrects bad habits by laughing at them. Of course, you shouldn’t laugh at strangers, but your close friends will probably like the idea.
Good for whom?
Or who benefits? Similar to the expression sequere pecuniam (“follow the money”), this phrase suggests to look for the culprit in the person who would benefit from an unwelcome event.
It annoys me at the foot.
Similar to the English saying “a pebble in one’s shoe”, me vexat pede refers to a trivial situation or person that is being a nuisance. The Romans don’t seem so serious anymore, do they?
To milk a male goat.
Am I wrong or is this your soon to be favorite Latin phrase? Although it hints at attempting the impossible – which is a very serious matter – you can not help but smile at the image.
Nothing comes from nothing.
Or so Lucretius said. Originally meaning “work is required to succeed”, the modern reinterpretation suggests that “everything has its origins in something”.
Nobody dances sober.
Have you heard about Cicero? The famous Roman statesman, lawyer, scholar, philosopher and Academic Skeptic? Well, he said this. Probably after an interesting night during which carpe vinum was his favorite motto.
We strive for the forbidden.
From Ovid’s ‘Amores’. This behavior is no stranger to the modern world. Highly disputed between philophers, nitimur in vetitum was also what drove Eve to take a bite from the forbidden fruit.
The Emperor is not above the grammarians.
Know any grammar nazis? Because they’ll love this Latin phrase. Its origin goes back to 1414, when the Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund of Luxembourg made a grammar mistake during his speech to the Council of Constance. After the error was pointed out to him, Sigismund angrily decided to simply change the grammar rule to his liking. At his point, a member of the Council apparently stood and said “Caesar non supra grammaticos”. Pretty cool story, isn’t it?
Money don’t smell.
According to Suetonius, when to Roman emperor Vespasian imposed a urine tax, his son Titus complained of the money’s disgusting nature. Now you’re probably asking yourself what in heaven’s name is a urine tax. Well, the urine collected from Rome’s public urinals was sold as an ingredient for multiple chemical processes. So no, the people of Rome didn’t pay a tax to urinate. Instead, the buyers of the urine did.
You can probably imagine what happened next. Vespasian’s answer to his son was to hold up a gold coin and ask whether it smelled. The rest is… history.
A full belly does not like studying.
To be honest, my belly does not like studying when it’s empty either. What about yours?
Anyway, it seems that the Romans believed it is difficult to concentrate after a heavy meal.
An oxymoronic phrase attributed to Augustus. Genius if you ask me. Equivalent to “more haste, less speed”, festina lente essentially encourages you to proceed quickly, but cautiously.
A beard doesn’t make one a philosopher.
Want to sweep everyone off their feet with your erudite ways? Use this Latin phrase instead of its English equivalent: “clothes don’t make the man”. Or the similar cucullus non facit monachum (“the hood does not make the monk”).
Of tastes there is nothing to be disputed.
Different phrase, same story. You’re welcome.
I fear Greeks even if they bring gifts.
Similar to equo ne credite (“do not trust the horse”). The phrase belongs to Laocoön when he supposedly warned his fellow Trojans against accepting the wooden horse from the Greeks. Nowadays, this expression can be used figuratively between friends.
It is sweet on occasion to play the fool. / It is pleasant to relax once in a while.
By Horace in ‘Odes’. Criminally underused genius Latin phrase. I trust you shall change this.
Fortune favors the bold.
Supposedly Pliny the Elder’s last words before leaving the docks at Pompeii to rescue his friend Pomponianus from the eruption of Vesuvius in 79. The phrase also appears in Virgil’s Aeneid.
Funny thing about Romans. Apparently, they had no word for ‘yes’, so they went with ita vero instead.
The wolf in the story.
The Latin equivalent of “speak of the devil”. When you speak of someone and they suddenly appear, almost as if you were summoning them, this proverb is perfect.
Remember to live.
We all heard about memento mori (“remember that you [have to] die”), but apparently a more optimistic view over life also existed.
Laughter is abundant in the mouth of fools.
Similar to per risum multum poteris cognoscere stultum (“by excessive laughter one can recognize the fool”). Do you have that one friend who laughs at their own jokes even before saying them? If yes, then this saying is for them. Only if they are not easily offended, of course.
To belch before the deaf.
You gotta love the Latin language. After learning of this phrase’s existence, I no longer regarded my attempt to learn as many Latin phrases as possible as futile.
If it wasn’t obvious enough, surdo oppedere refers to a useless action.
Either Caesar or nothing.
Or “all or nothing”. This was the personal motto of the infamous Italian cardinal Cesare Borgia. Nowadays, the expression can be used to denote the absolute aspiration to be the best.
You are flogging a dead man.
Have you ever criticized someone who did not feel remorse over their actions? This phrase is exactly about that but said in a much more creative and interesting way. Gotta remember this one.
To conclude our exploration of the Latin phrases in a positive tone, let’s see what the Romans had to say about love. It’s true they talked more about wars, but you don’t need that kind of negativity in your life, do you? Why learn Latin phrases about war, when love wins no matter what?
If you want to be loved, love.
Written by Seneca in the sixth of his letters to Lucilius. The phrase has a double interpretation: ‘only loving souls can inspire love’ and ‘you cannot ask for love from those you do not love yourself’.
Love conquers all.
Famously attributed to the Latin poet Virgil, this popular Latin phrase is also the title of a painting by the Italian Baroque artist Caravaggio.
Where (there is) love, there (is) pain.
No matter how beautiful, love can also hurt. This expression refers to the pain love can inflict upon one’s soul especially if we’re talking about unrequited love.
Love is rich with both honey and venom.
It seems that love was no different in Ancient Rome. This quote appeared in Titus Maccius Plautus’ play ‘Cistellaria’.
Oh me! Love can not be cured by herbs.
From Ovid’s ‘Metamorphoses’. We know your pain, Ovid.
In all seriousness, Latin phrases, quotes and sayings are a fun way to boost your vocabulary and learn more about the origin of the words we use every day. While Latin is the common ancestor of the Romance languages, it has also influenced the Germanic languages (of which English is a part). So it might prove most illuminating to take inspiration from the master orators and use Latin words and phrases in your day-to-day conversations.
Besides, Latin can prepare you for many professions or simply discussions with scholarly people. These fields include law, medicine, science, music, theology, philosophy, art, and literature. Many scholars believe that learning Latin also sharpens the mind and cultivates analysis and attention.
Furthermore, the Latin language is rich in life lessons, mottos and words to live by. By learning these sayings, you’ll not only improve your vocabulary but also your life experience.
Last but surely not least, dropping one or two cool Latin words here and there will add at least 50 points to your coolness level.
The Latin language is no longer is secret code meant only for scholars or the Catholic Church. Starting right now, you can learn Latin with Mondly using bite-sized lessons and practical topics to help you discover how Romans conversed in their day-to-day life.
Soon enough, you’ll be able to speak like a veritable Julius Caesar yourself.
Start using Mondly for free on your computer or download the app and learn Latin fast anytime, anywhere.
“Les jours de la semaine” in French. From Monday to Friday and beyond.
Manners are a must everywhere you go. Here's how to say "Hello" in Spanish and discover the hospitality of Spanish-speaking...
If you’re in your thirties, you’ve probably heard some of your friends complain about feeling old. Learn the best way...
74 comments on “50 Cool Latin Phrases to Impress Your Friends”
Great article. A couple more useful ones:
– respondeat superior (let the master answer)
– experto credite (trust one with experience)
Thanks for that
That reminds me of “Magister Dixit” (teacher says… wisdom that shouldn´t be questioned). Always a favorite.
Those are awesome phrases to add k to my vocabulary.
Per aspera, ad astra – through adversity reach for the stars
I am debating with a conspiracy theorist and find she deifies ancient academic concept. Thus she accepts my critique if I say accipere nihil provocatione omnia
for accept nothing; challenge everything. My problem is I don’t know if the internet is using the established latin phrase or just translating my english. Any more correct phrases would be apprecciated. I am very dyslexic and don’t use search engins easily
I think “accipere nihil provocatione omnia” is a translation of each word. However accipere is the present infinitive, i.e. “to accept” and provocatione is a noun i.e. “a challenge”.
The present imperative of accipere is accipite. But then this verb is more like accept in terms of receiving something. “To believe” is credere, with the present imperative being credite.
The verb “to challenge” is provocare, but I think this is more like challenge to a fight. I think interrogare is a better verb as this means to ask or to question. The present imperative is interrogate.
Also I think the verb comes at the end in Latin. So my translation would be:
nihil credite, omnia interrogate
which would translate as “believe nothing, question everything”.
Not an expert so please point out any mistakes
Btw, in case you didn’t know, in latin, the letter ‘v’ is pronounced as if it were a ‘w’.
I have found latin more interesting to learn. Sometimes scholars can use Latin jargons to differentiate themselves from the crowd.
Quid lucrum istic mihi est, What’s in it for me? (From author Donald Westlake)
Semper in execretum solum profundum veriat. Always in the shit only the depth varies. My motto of construction.
Cogito, ergo sum. =I think, therefore I am.
Now, think….Billie Elish!
Varietas Delectat (variety spice of life) is one of my personal faves
Will write down and memorize, ” Semper in excretum…”
I also far from expert, however think I understand word order in Latin does not matter in the least, say it smoothly however you wish.
How sinister and also intriguing about the group that managed to abolished most of Roman’s teachings and disciplines they bothered to create multiple languages based on Latin grammar, books of laws mostly Roman’s teachings, arts ,astronomy, astrology, philosophy, etc .
a NWO back in the days . a waste of time.
who knows maybe will relive it all over again..
Omnia mea mecum porto.
“All that is mine I carry with me.”
I think it refers to character and intelligence, but I like to say it when I leave the house to avoid forgetting things.
Great article thanks.
I love Latin wish I could learn how to speak fluently……
This piece is awesome
I love Latin wish I could learn how to speak fluently…
Thanks to the person who compiled this …
Motto over the bar at Jacob Wirth’s in Boston
“Suum clique”-to each his own.
Unfortunately Jake’s is gone.
Sic transit Gloria Mundi !
Jacob Wirth’s was in CAMBRIDGE, not Boston.
Fantastic article and comments too.
The richness of English is partly due I feel to the ability to freely absorb and use Latin and vocabulary from other languages. Not sure if we use Greek phrases at all however although some words are of Greek origin. Could be another article?
Hodie mihi Cras tibi
(Every dog has its day)
Sic frangit crustum Dulce
(That’s the way the cookie crumbles)
It’s really helping me in my write up
At the end of one episode of the TV show Rosanne, Rosanne Barr is in her daughter’s high school principal’s office. She grabs the microphone connected to the principal’s public address system and broadcasts to the entire school, “Students. If you’re taking Latin you’re wasting your lives!” America tends to celebrate celebrated banality.
“The strong warrior fights not because they hate who is in front of them, but because they love who is behind them” translate?? Or something similar?
Verus miles pugnat, non quia oderit quod est ante se, sed quia id quod post se est amat
Miles fortis oppugnat non inimicum odiendo sed suos amando
This is my attempt. It’s not a literal translation but more like “A strong soldier fights not by hating the enemy but by loving his own (people).” It’s been a long time since I studied Lating. I hope it’s correct, at least.
Latin is not a dead language. I am a Latin teacher with 32 years of teaching experience in 5 countries, 2 continents. In 1997 I started teaching in US, where I teach students with a future or career goal in mind and they are enrolled in Latin courses. Latin for any English- speaking person is almost mandatory. I learned it at my catholic school where Italian and French were the languages at my school and home. I always remember Francis Bacon, a prestigious writer, who wrote 48 books, 44 in Latin and only 4 in his English language, at that time he understood Latin was the language of science and future. Nowadays Latin still the root, the resource, the base for science and for English language that was modified and derived from it during the Roman occupation and later in the French Norman period. The American founding fathers were smart and look at mottos in hundreds of American seals nationwide including the dollar bank note telling us that Latin continues to lead and to offer an incredible resource in all science and technological areas. I always remember my first Latin teacher, an old Italian priest from Florence who told me if you love Latin and master it, you will teach it any where on earth. Wow! I am 60 years old and his prophetic words became real when I received my Master Degree in Language and Latin Literature and later, I also received my master degree in Foreign languages in Italian, French and Spanish. I teach conversational Latin like I teach French, Italian or Spanish. I do respect any colleague that teach Latin for reading and translating classical Latin passages, but I can’t do that. Latin is a language and I teach it like Romans did centuries ago. It is really engaging to see students speaking Latin and reading and explaining all those classical phrases in a logical and natural way. Translating classical Latin phrases will be boring and sleepy for me, I love the energy and the active participation of my students challenging me everyday to do a better job and to help them to be globally competitive.
What a genius and legend. I bow to your superior knowledge.
I wish I could learn how to pronounce. This is one beautiful language.
My fave is “fluctat nec megurgitur”
It struggles yet does not sink
For: Plenus venter non studet libenter – A full belly doesn’t like studying… I think this refers to appetite to work. If you’re already fully rewarded you won’t want to put in the work… staying hungry = striving for greater.
Amantes sunt amentes
Humani nil a me alienum puto
vere, id est optima figura vestrum? idioma?
“Motto over the bar at Jacob Wirth’s in Boston
“Suum clique”-to each his own.
Unfortunately Jake’s is gone.”
Ahem… I’m afraid it’s “unicuique suum” (more or less “don’t let a poet fix the plumbing”)
Anyway “parce sepultis”, don’t take it out on the dead…
@ J. Rod di Barressa:
I beg to differ: Latin IS a dead language, though still a pretty active one. Not unlike ancient Greek, it left behind just a few (and conflicting) clues about how it was pronounced when it was currently spoken by commoners [think e.g. of Tzesar, Kesar, Tchesar , Seesar for ‘Cesar’], and nowadays no ‘commoner’ would use it to communicate other than in emergency situations. ‘Est usus qui facit linguas’…
We may call it a zombie language if you wish, but hardly a live one. Should you or I be sent to year 1 BC, most likely we’d be regarded as barbarians, the ‘stutterers’ that are quite fluent in their own mother tongue but have severe difficulty uttering the strange sounds the conceited conquerors see as The One and Only Language – ‘nihil sub sole novum’ actually 🙂
Latin’s staying afloat for so many centuries should probably be ascribed to the Roman Catholic Church that adopted it as its official language and throughout the Middle Ages was virtually the only reference point for those skilled, wealthy and curious enough to do something more than just survive till the next ravaging horde.
That’s most likely also the reason why it was retained as the ‘scholarly language’ once the Roman Church proved more greedy, power-thirsty and mundane than most empires and kingdoms: it had rooted so deeply into all sciences that its link to the Church had become little relevant.
Hope you’ll forgive me such a heretic point of view – for 8 of my best years I’ve been sitting on the other side of the barbed wire, forced to repeat ‘ad nauseam’ “rosa, rosae… etc.” by inflexible Latin teachers that took utmost care in despoiling it of any charme. That occurred in the times when duty and pleasure were regarded as different, non-overlapping and completely antithetical concepts, a morbid mentality that lasted barely long enough to make Latin a nightmare for me and my fellow pupils.
To make up for that, several decades later I landed into a crazy physics research institute where most of the jokes were circulated in Latin or in ancient Greek, so I made peace with Latin and now treasure those ancient notions stuck forcibly down my throat.
BTW: here an unwanted child is known as a ‘lapsus talami’. I’m not sure if Cicero used it, but we do 🙂
For a ‘zombie’ or ‘retired’ language its still busier than many ‘living’ languages. I think it rates as living (and quite active in retirement) because it’s use remains significant and persistent. It’s arguably even an ‘immortal’ language that has grown beyond the bounds and needs of its original, birthing, state and culture. It doesn’t matter that we’re uncertain of Latin pronunciation since, for example, English speakers in different parts of the world can pronounce things differently but that doesn’t invalidate any one pronunciation. Just my ten cents worth.
Thank you so much for this. It helped out a lot
ad mentula canis
How to annoy your partner, who enjoys Latin (South American) (dance) music.
Shall I play/put on something Latin?
Play your favourite chanting monks.
If status quo is the way things are, how would you say “the way things could be” in Latin? Thanks!
Status desiderandus? The desireable state (of things)?
Excellent article, interesting comments. « Forsan et haec olim meminisse juvabit “ rates a mention. Suitable for just about any situation, particularly the unpleasant ones.
BA Latin, Tulane 1967
Latin is my favourite language of all.
This piece is awesome it helped me a great deal.
Latin is my favourite language. This piece is awesome. It helped me agreat deal.
“Vita Immolatur Aliis Vivere” –
My Life Sacrificed for Others to Live
Motto of U.S. Air Force Special Operations ParaRescue or “PJ’s”
You can close your eyes to what you don’t want to see but you can’t close your heart to what you don’t want to feel.. could anyone translate to Latin please?
Oculos tuos claudere potes quod videre non vis, sed cor claudere non potes quod sentire non vis..
I’m thinking of getting a tattoo in Latin: “Alia primus” — others first. A reminder to be less egocentric.
For your son?
For your cat?
I think you meant “alii primum” others first?
never give up keep up fighting
Hi everyone, I am trying to find the Latin phrase which translates as ‘That which divides also connects’. Can anyone help with the phrase and/or where it comes from? Thanks in advance.
Could I get help with translating “Love the Journey” and “Love the Journey, not just the destination”. Not sure if the first part changes based on the second.
Ama viam, non destinationem
Love the journey, not the destination..
Such a useful list . . . Thank you so much!
What about: O me miseram! Totally the thing to say when you slap the back of your hand against your forehead, look suitably dejected, and want to wail! Love this article.
I learn many things from this list. Thank you so much.
Yeah me too. I’m typing a story and the latin phrases helped. thanks!
Very interesting topic 🙂 I would like to add these to the list:
“Omnia Videre, Multa Dissimulare” = See everything, Pass over (as Fine to conceal over) Things”
“Pulvis Et Umbra sumus” = We are Dust And Shadow
“Qui Valet Hic Mundus, Quid Gloriam, Quidve Triumpus Post Miserum Fonus” = What is the value of this world, what is the glory, what is the triumph behind the rope of misery?
Yeah me too. I’m typing a story and the latin phrases helped. thanks!
I’m typing a story and the latin phrases helped. thanks!
The Latin for love conquers all is ” OMNIA VINCIT AMOR”
This is due to the syllables in omnia being longer than amor as its Hexmeter latin.
Non Sum Angelus
Primus inter Pares (first among equals)
Carved in stone over the door of the gym at the Catholic boy’s school I attended: “Mens Sana In Corpore Sano.” A strong mind in a strong body.
Missing is “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?”
(literally Who Guards the Guards?
meaning, “if the police are supposed to guard against corruption, what do you do when you find the police are corrupt?”
This is supremely relevant to institutions in most countries.
my favorite a variation on descartes: puteo,ergo sum
Wonderful article! inspiring Latin.
“Luceo non uro” – I shine ,not burn.