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Friday, July 26, 2013

Latin words every Man must know... Or so I've been told

Latin Words and Phrases Every Man Should Know

by Brett & Kate McKay on July 25, 2013 · 73 comments

What do great men like Benjamin Franklin, Teddy Roosevelt, and Winston Churchill have in common?
They all were proficient in Latin.
From the Middle Ages until about the middle of the 20th century, Latin was a central part of a man’s schooling in the West. Along with logic and rhetoric, grammar (as Latin was then known) was included as part of the Trivium – the foundation of a medieval liberal arts education. From Latin, all scholarship flowed and it was truly the gateway to the life of the mind, as the bulk of scientific, religious, legal, and philosophical literature was written in the language until about the 16th century. To immerse oneself in classical and humanistic studies, Latin was a must.
Grammar schools in Europe and especially England during this time were Latin schools, and the first secondary school established in America by the Puritans was a Latin school as well. But beginning in the 14th century, writers started to use the vernacular in their works, which slowly chipped away at Latin’s central importance in education. This trend for English-language learning accelerated in the 19th century; schools shifted from turning out future clergymen to graduating businessmen who would take their place in an industrializing economy. An emphasis on the liberal arts slowly gave way to what was considered a more practical education in reading, writing, and arithmetic.
While Latin had been dying a slow death for hundreds of years, it still had a strong presence in schools until the middle of the 20th century. Beginning in the 1960s, college students demanded that the curriculum be more open, inclusive, and less Euro-centric. Among their suggested changes was eliminating Latin as a required course for all students. To quell student protests, universities began to slowly phase out the Latin requirement, and because colleges stopped requiring Latin, many high schools in America stopped offering Latin classes, too.  Around the same time, the Catholic Church revised its liturgy and permitted priests to lead Mass in vernacular languages instead of Latin, thus eliminating one of the public’s last ties to the ancient language.
While it’s no longer a requirement for a man to know Latin to get ahead in life, it’s still a great subject to study. I had to take classes in Latin as part of my “Letters” major at the University of Oklahoma, and I really enjoyed it. Even if you’re well out of school yourself, there are a myriad of reasons why you should still consider obtaining at least a rudimentary knowledge of the language:
Knowing Latin can improve your English vocabulary. While English is a Germanic language, Latin has strongly influenced it. Most of our prefixes and some of the roots of common English words derive from Latin. By some estimates, 30% of English words derive from the ancient language. By knowing the meaning of these Latin words, if you chance to come across a word you’ve never seen before, you can make an educated guess at what it means. In fact, studies have found that high school students who studied Latin scored a mean of 647 on the SAT verbal exam, compared with the national average of 505.
Knowing Latin can improve your foreign language vocabulary. Much of the commonly spoken Romantic languages like Spanish, French, and Italian derived from Vulgar Latin. You’ll be surprised by the number of Romantic words that are pretty much the same as their Latin counterparts.
Many legal terms are in Latin. Nolo contendere. Mens rea. Caveat emptor. Do you know what those mean? They’re actually common legal terms. While strides have been made to translate legal writing into plain English, you’ll still see old Latin phrases thrown into legal contracts every now and then. To be an educated citizen and consumer, you need to know what these terms mean. If you plan on going to law school, I highly recommend boning up on Latin. You’ll run into it all the time, particularly when reading older case law.
Knowing Latin can give you more insight to history and literature. Latin was the lingua franca of the West for over a thousand years. Consequently, much of our history, science, and great literature was first recorded in Latin. Reading these classics in the original language can give you insights you otherwise may have missed by consuming it in English.
Moreover, modern writers (and by modern I mean beginning in the 17th century) often pepper their work with Latin words and phrases without offering a translation because they (reasonably) expect the reader to be familiar with it. This is true of great books from even just a few decades ago (seems much less common these days – which isn’t a hopeful commentary on the direction of the public’s literacy I would think). Not having a rudimentary knowledge of Latin will cause you to miss out on fully understanding what the writer meant to convey.
Below we’ve put together a list of Latin words and phrases to help pique your interest in learning this classical language. This list isn’t exhaustive by any stretch of the imagination. We’ve included some of the most common Latin words and phrases that you still see today, which are helpful to know in boosting your all-around cultural literacy. We’ve also included some particularly virile sayings, aphorisms, and mottos that can inspire greatness or remind us of important truths. Perhaps you’ll find a Latin phrase that you can adopt as your personal motto. Semper Virilis!

Latin Words and Phrases Every Man Should Know

a posteriori from the latter -- knowledge or justification is dependent on experience or empirical evidence
a priori from what comes before -- knowledge or justification is independent of experience
faber est suae quisque fortunaeevery man is the artisan of his own fortune --
quote by Appius Claudius Caecus
acta non verbadeeds, not words
ad hocto this -- improvised or made up
ad hominemto the man -- below-the-belt personal attack rather than a reasoned argument
ad honoremfor honor
ad infinitumto infinity
ad nauseamused to describe an argument that has been taking place to the point of nausea
ad victoriamto victory -- more commonly translated into "for victory," this was a battle cry of the Romans

alea iacta estthe die has been cast
aliasat another time -- an assumed name or pseudonym
alma maternourishing mother -- used to denote one's college/university
amor patriaelove of one's country
amor vincit omnialove conquers all

annuit cœptisHe (God) nods at things being begun -- or "he approves our undertakings," motto on the reverse of the Great Seal of the United States and on the back of the United States one-dollar bill

ante bellumbefore the war -- commonly used in the Southern United States as antebellum to refer to the period preceding the American Civil War

ante meridiembefore noon -- A.M., used in timekeeping
aqua vitaewater of life -- used to refer to various native distilled beverages, such as whisky (uisge beatha) in Scotland and Ireland, gin in Holland, and brandy (eau de vie) in France
arte et marteby skill and valour

astra inclinant, sed non obligantthe stars incline us, they do not bind us -- refers to the strength of free will over astrological determinism

audemus jura nostra defenderewe dare to defend our rights -- state motto of Alabama
audere est facereto dare is to do

audioI hear
aurea mediocritasgolden mean -- refers to the ethical goal of reaching a virtuous middle ground between two sinful extremes

auribus teneo lupumI hold a wolf by the ears -- a common ancient proverb; indicates that one is in a dangerous situation where both holding on and letting go could be deadly; a modern version is, "to have a tiger by the tail"

aut cum scuto aut in scutoeither with shield or on shield -- do or die, "no retreat"; said by Spartan mothers to their sons as they departed for battle
aut neca aut necareeither kill or be killed
aut viam inveniam aut faciamI will either find a way or make one -- said by Hannibal, the great ancient military commander
barba non facit philosophuma beard doesn't make one a philosopher
bellum omnium contra omneswar of all against all
bis dat qui cito dathe gives twice, who gives promptly -- a gift given without hesitation is as good as two gifts

bona fidegood faith
bono malum superateovercome evil with good
carpe diemseize the day
caveat emptorlet the buyer beware -- the purchaser is responsible for checking whether the goods suit his need
circaaround, or approximately
citius altius fortiusfaster, higher, stronger -- modern Olympics motto
cogito ergo sum"I think therefore I am" -- famous quote by Rene Descartes
contemptus mundi/saeculiscorn for the world/times -- despising the secular world, the monk or philosopher's rejection of a mundane life and worldly values

corpus christibody of Christ
corruptissima re publica plurimae legeswhen the republic is at its most corrupt the laws are most numerous -- said by Tacitus
creatio ex nihilocreation out of nothing -- a concept about creation, often used in a theological or philosophical context
cura te ipsumtake care of your own self -- an exhortation to physicians, or experts in general, to deal with their own problems before addressing those of others

curriculum vitaethe course of one's life -- in business, a lengthened resume
de factofrom the fact -- distinguishing what's supposed to be from what is reality
deo volenteGod willing
deus ex machinaGod out of a machine -- a term meaning a conflict is resolved in improbable or implausible ways
dictum factumwhat is said is done

disce quasi semper victurus vive quasi cras morituruslearn as if you're always going to live; live as if tomorrow you're going to die
discendo discimuswhile teaching we learn
docendo disco, scribendo cogitoI learn by teaching, think by writing
ductus exemploleadership by example
ducunt volentem fata, nolentem trahuntthe fates lead the willing and drag the unwilling -- attributed to Lucius Annaeus Seneca

dulce bellum inexpertiswar is sweet to the inexperienced
dulce et decorum est pro patria moriit is sweet and fitting to die for your country
dulcius ex asperissweeter after difficulties

e pluribus unumout of many, one -- on the U.S. seal, and was once the country's de facto motto
emeritusveteran -- retired from office
et aliiand others -- abbreviated et al.
et ceteraand the others
et tu, Brute?last words of Caesar after being murdered by friend Brutus in Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar," used today to convey utter betrayal
ex animofrom the heart -- thus, "sincerely"

ex librisfrom the library of -- to mark books from a library
ex nihiloout of nothing
ex post factofrom a thing done afterward -- said of a law with retroactive effect

fac fortia et pateredo brave deeds and endure
fac similemake alike -- origin of the word "fax"
flectere si nequeo superos, acheronta moveboif I cannot move heaven I will raise hell -- Virgil's Aeneid

fortes fortuna adiuvatfortune favors the bold

fortis in arduisstrong in difficulties
gloria in excelsis Deoglory to God in the highest
habeas corpusyou should have the body -- a legal term from the 14th century or earlier; commonly used as the general term for a prisoner's legal right to challenge the legality of their detention

habemus papamwe have a pope -- used after a Catholic Church papal election to announce publicly a successful ballot to elect a new pope

historia vitae magistrahistory, the teacher of life -- from Cicero; also "history is the mistress of life"

hoc est bellumthis is war
homo unius libri (timeo)(I fear) a man of one book -- attributed to Thomas Aquinas

honor virtutis praemiumesteem is the reward of virtue
hostis humani generisenemy of the human race -- Cicero defined pirates in Roman law as being enemies of humanity in general

humilitas occidit superbiamhumility conquers pride
igne natura renovatur integrathrough fire, nature is reborn whole

ignis aurum probatfire tests gold -- a phrase referring to the refining of character through difficult circumstances

in absentiain the absence
in aqua sanitasin water there is health
in flagrante delictoin flaming crime -- caught red-handed, or in the act
in memoriaminto the memory -- more commonly "in memory of"
in omnia paratusready for anything

in situ

in position -- something that exists in an original or natural state

in totoin all or entirely
in umbra, igitur, pugnabimusthen we will fight in the shade -- made famous by Spartans in the battle of Thermopylae and by the movie 300
in uteroin the womb
in vitroin glass -- biological process that occurs in the lab
incepto ne desistammay I not shrink from my purpose
intelligenti paucafew words suffice for he who understands
invictus maneoI remain unvanquished
ipso factoby the fact itself -- something is true by its very nature
labor omnia vincithard work conquers all

laborare pugnare parati sumusto work, (or) to fight; we are ready
labore et honoreby labor and honor
leges sine moribus vanaelaws without morals [are] vain
lex parsimoniaelaw of succinctness -- also known as Occam's Razor, the simplest explanation is usually the correct one

lex talionisthe law of retaliation
magna cum laudewith great praise

magna est vis consuetudinisgreat is the power of habit
magnum opusgreat work -- said of someone's masterpiece

mala fidein bad faith -- said of an act done with knowledge of its illegality, or with intention to defraud or mislead someone; opposite of bona fide

malum in sewrong in itself -- a legal term meaning that something is inherently wrong

malum prohibitumwrong due to being prohibited -- a legal term meaning that something is only wrong because it is against the law
mea culpamy fault
meliorabetter things -- carrying the connotation of "always better"

memento moriremember that [you will] die -- was whispered by a servant into the ear of a victorious Roman general to check his pride as he paraded through cheering crowds after a victory; a genre of art meant to remind the viewer of the reality of his death
memento vivereremember to live
memores acti prudentes futurimindful of what has been done, aware of what will be
modus operandi method of operating -- abbreviated M.O.
montani semper liberimountaineers [are] always free -- state motto of West Virginia
morior invictusdeath before defeat
morituri te salutantthose who are about to die salute you -- popularized as a standard salute from gladiators to the emperor, but only recorded once in Roman history
morte magis metuenda senectusold age should rather be feared than death
mulgere hircumto milk a male goat -- to attempt the impossible
multa paucissay much in few words

nanos gigantum humeris insidentesdwarfs standing on the shoulders of giants -- commonly known by the letters of Isaac Newton: "If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants"
nec aspera terrentthey don't terrify the rough ones -- frightened by no difficulties, less literally "difficulties be damned"
nec temere nec timideneither reckless nor timid
nil volentibus arduumnothing [is] arduous for the willing
nolo contendereI do not wish to contend -- that is, "no contest"; a plea that can be entered on behalf of a defendant in a court that states that the accused doesn't admit guilt, but will accept punishment for a crime
non ducor, ducoI am not led; I lead
non loqui sed facerenot talk but action
non progredi est regredito not go forward is to go backward
non scholae, sed vitae discimuswe learn not for school, but for life -- from Seneca
non sequiturit does not follow -- in general, a comment which is absurd due to not making sense in its context (rather than due to being inherently nonsensical or internally inconsistent), often used in humor
non sum qualis eramI am not such as I was -- or "I am not the kind of person I once was"

nosce te ipsumknow thyself -- from Cicero

novus ordo seclorumnew order of the ages -- from Virgil; motto on the Great Seal of the United States
nulla tenaci invia est viafor the tenacious, no road is impassable
obliti privatorum, publica curateforget private affairs, take care of public ones -- Roman political saying which reminds that common good should be given priority over private matters for any person having a responsibility in the State

panem et circensesbread and circuses -- originally described all that was needed for emperors to placate the Roman mob; today used to describe any entertainment used to distract public attention from more important matters

para bellumprepare for war -- if you want peace, prepare for war—if a country is ready for war, its enemies are less likely to attack
parvis imbutus tentabis grandia tutuswhen you are steeped in little things, you shall safely attempt great things -- sometimes translated as, "once you have accomplished small things, you may attempt great ones safely"

pater familiasfather of the family -- the eldest male in a family
pecunia, si uti scis, ancilla est; si nescis, dominaif you know how to use money, money is your slave; if you don't, money is your master
per angusta ad augustathrough difficulties to greatness
per annumby the year
per capitaby the person
per diemby the day
per sethrough itself
persona non grataperson not pleasing -- an unwelcome, unwanted or undesirable person
pollice versowith a turned thumb -- used by Roman crowds to pass judgment on a defeated gladiator
post meridiemafter noon -- P.M., used in timekeeping
post mortemafter death
postscriptumthing having been written afterward -- in writing, abbreviated P.S.
praemonitus praemunitusforewarned is forearmed
praesis ut prosis ne ut impereslead in order to serve, not in order to rule
primus inter paresfirst among equals -- a title of the Roman Emperors

pro bonofor the good -- in business, refers to services rendered at no charge
pro ratafor the rate
quam bene vivas referre (or refert), non quam diuit is how well you live that matters, not how long -- from Seneca
quasias if or as though
qui totum vult totum perdithe who wants everything loses everything -- attributed to Seneca
quid agiswhat's going on? -- what's up, what's happening, etc.
quid pro quothis for that -- an exchange of value
quidquid Latine dictum sit altum videturwhatever has been said in Latin seems deep -- or "anything said in Latin sounds profound"; a recent ironic Latin phrase to poke fun at people who seem to use Latin phrases and quotations only to make themselves sound more important or "educated"
quis custodiet ipsos custodes?who will guard the guards themselves? -- commonly associated with Plato
quorumof whom -- the number of members whose presence is required under the rules to make any given meeting constitutional

requiescat in pace let him rest in peace -- abbreviated R.I.P.
rigor mortisstiffness of death
scientia ac laboreknowledge through hard work
scientia ipsa potentia estknowledge itself is power
semper anticusalways forward
semper fidelisalways faithful -- U.S. Marines motto
semper fortisalways brave
semper paratusalways prepared
semper virilisalways virile
si vales, valeowhen you are strong, I am strong
si vis pacem, para bellumif you want peace, prepare for war
sic parvis magnagreatness from small beginnings -- motto of Sir Frances Drake
sic semper tyrannisthus always to tyrants -- attributed to Brutus at the time of Julius Caesar's assassination, and to John Wilkes Booth at the time of Abraham Lincoln's assassination; whether it was actually said at either of these events is disputed
sic vita estthus is life -- the ancient version of "it is what it is"
sola fideby faith alone
sola nobilitat virtusvirtue alone ennobles
solvitur ambulandoit is solved by walking
spes bonagood hope
statim (stat)immediately -- medical shorthand
status quothe situation in which or current condition
subpoenaunder penalty
sum quod erisI am what you will be -- a gravestone inscription to remind the reader of the inevitability of death
summa cum laudewith highest praise
summum bonumthe supreme good
suum cuiqueto each his own
tabula rasascraped tablet -- "blank slate"; John Locke used the term to describe the human mind at birth, before it had acquired any knowledge
tempora heroicaHeroic Age
tempus edax rerumtime, devourer of all things
tempus fugittime flees -- commonly mistranslated "time flies"
terra firmafirm ground
terra incognitaunknown land -- used on old maps to show unexplored areas
vae victiswoe to the conquered
vanitas vanitatum omnia vanitasvanity of vanities; everything [is] vanity -- from the Bible (Ecclesiastes 1)
veni vidi viciI came, I saw, I conquered -- famously said by Julius Caesar
verbatimrepeat exactly
veritas et aequitastruth and equity
veto I forbid
vice versato change or turn around
vincit qui patiturhe conquers who endures
vincit qui se vincithe conquers who conquers himself
vir prudens non contra ventum mingit[a] wise man does not urinate [up] against the wind
virile agiturthe manly thing is being done
viriliter agiteact in a manly way
viriliter agite estote fortesquit ye like men, be strong
virtus tentamine gaudetstrength rejoices in the challenge
virtute et armisby virtue and arms -- or "by manhood and weapons"; state motto of Mississippi

vive memor letilive remembering death
vivere est vincereto live is to conquer -- Captain John Smith's personal motto
vivere militare estto live is to fight
vox populivoice of the people
What are your favorite Latin phrases? Any other important Latin words and phrases that you think a modern man should know? Share with us in the comments!

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