Our Latest Discovery

Aug 29 2007   1:43PM GMT

Latin phrase cheatsheets to impress your friends and colleagues

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

Last week I sent out a quiz about Latin-derived terms:

Quiz: For Latin Lovers

Latin is a dead language,
As dead as it can be.
First it killed the Romans
And now it’s killing me.

Years ago, when Latin was taught in the public schools, all the boys and girls inscribed their Latin texts with that little ditty. Or so our moms tell us. Despite its seeming unpopularity, Latin was — and still is — extremely useful for making you look like a real smartypants. Are you a Latin Lover? Take our quiz to help you decide.

In fact — believe it or not — I’m not a fluent speaker of Latin, so I set forth to look for potential phrases that I could bend to my purposes. I found, to my delight, that there was not a lot that I could use for the quiz, but lots of things that might be handy for other applications:

Here’s a slice of the long list of common and useful Latin phrases from Dialogue on Everything2.com:

Ne plus ultra: Nothing further; perfection
Nil desperandum: No reason for despair; never despair.
Nolen volens: Willing or unwilling
Non compos mentis: Not of sound mind
Non sequitur: It does not follow.
Nota bene: Mark well.
Obiit: He (or she) died.
Obiter dictum: A thing said by the way
Ora pro nobis: Pray for us.
Ore rotundo: With full voice
O tempora! O mores!: O the times! O the manners!

Below, there’s a coordinated list from Xerces. Here’s a taste:

E contrario: on the contrary
Experto credite!: Trust me!
Extinctus amabitur idem: How soon we forget!
Fama volat: Rumor travels swiftly
Filius est patris: He’s a chip off the old block
Forte consulto: accidently on purpose – a cool oxymoron!
Hic et nunc: here and now
Hic et ubique: here and everywhere
Humanum est errare: To err is human

From systay on Everything2, Fun Latin phrases. Such as:

Si Hoc Legere Scis Nimium Eruditionis Habes
– If you can read this you’re overeducated

Vah! Denuone Latine loquebar? Me ineptum. Interdum modo elabitur
– Oh! Was I speaking Latin again? Silly me. Sometimes it just sort of slips out

Un idea perplexi na
– The idea is strange to us

albae gallinae filius
– son of a white chicken

Cogito cogito ergo cogito sum
– I think that I think, therefore I think that I am

If you look to the bottom of the page, there are links to a variety of Latin pages on the site.

The BBC’s h2g2 pages have more Latin fun. Here are just a few of the need-to-know phrases listed:

Ita erat quando hic adveni: It was that way when I got here

Nihil declarandum: I have nothing to declare

Ut si!: As if!

Canis meus id comedit: My dog ate it

Die dulci freure: Have a nice day

Catapultam habeo. Nisi pecuniam omnem mihi dabris, ad caput tuum saxum immane mittam: I have a catapult. Unless you give me all of your money, I will fling an enormous rock at your head.

Utinam barbari spatioum proprium tuum invadant: May barbarians invade your personal space

Recedite, plebes! Gero rem imperialem: Stand aside, little people! I am here on official business

Or you could go to Abigail’s Big Table of Latin Phrases

Here’s a sampling of handy phrases from Abigail’s cheatsheet:

Heia, amice, utrum illae sunt sarcinae tuae, an modo Carthaginem despoliasti?: Hey, pal, is that carry-on luggage or did you just sack Carthage?

Heu, modo itera omnia quae mihi nunc nuper narravisti, sed nunc Anglice?: Listen, would you repeat everything you just told me, only this time say it in English?

hunc tu caveto: beware of this man

Id est mihi, id non est tibi!: It is mine, not yours!

Id imperfectum manet dum confectum erit: It isn’t over until it’s over

Illegitimi non carborundum: Don’t let the bastards wear you down

Illiud Latine dici non potest: You can’t say that in Latin.

And with that, friends, Absum! (I’m outta here!)

~ Ivy Wigmore

 Comment on this Post

There was an error processing your information. Please try again later.
Thanks. We'll let you know when a new response is added.
Send me notifications when other members comment.

Forgot Password

No problem! Submit your e-mail address below. We'll send you an e-mail containing your password.

Your password has been sent to:

Share this item with your network: