Latin Quotations To Spice Up Your Speech and Write-Ups
Ancient Language Latin is rich with many lovely and thought provoking proverbs and sayings which convey deep messages to any audience.
It is therefore not surprising that many speech writers and conference speakers spice up their speeches with various Latin quotations to enrich their deliveries.
The Latin language is an Indo-European language in the Italic group and is ancestral to the modern Romance languages. During the Middle Ages and until comparatively recent times, Latin was the language most widely used in the West for scholarly and literary purposes.
Latin quotes is great for anyone who’s ever wanted to come off as a bit wittier, a bit cleverer, and a bit more worldly.
Not only were the Romans known for their wisdom and way with words, but tossing out a bit of Latin in the middle of conversation really makes an impression.
Table of Contents
Best Latin Quotations
- Amor Omnia Vincit
(Love conquers all – Virgil, Eclogues X)
- Vivamus, Moriendum Est.
(Let us live, since we must die.)
- Alea Iacta Est.
(The die is cast.)
- Flectere si nequeo superos, Acheronta movebo
(If I cannot bend the will of Heaven, I shall move Hell. – Virgil)
- Condemnant quo non intellegunt.
(They condemn that which they do not understand.)
- Acceptissima semper munera sunt, auctor quae pretiosa facit.
(Those gifts are always the most acceptable which our love for the donor makes precious.)
- Oderint dum metuant
(Let them hate so long as they fear. – Caligula)
- Imperium in imperio.
(An empire within an empire.)
- Audentes fortuna iuvat.
(Fortune favors the bold. – Virgil)
- Divitae bonum non sunt
(Material wealth is not the one good. – Seneca)
- Non fortuna homines aestimabo, sed moribus
(I do not estimate the men for their fortune, but for their habits. – Seneca)
- Pars magna bonitatis est velle fieri bonum
(Much of goodness consists in wanting to be good. – Seneca)
- Hic manebimus optime!
(“here we will stay, most excellently! – Livius)
- Homo sum humani a me nihil alienum puto
(I am a human being, so nothing human is strange to me. – Terentius)
- Animus risu novatur
(The spirit is refreshed with laughter. – Cicero)
- Amicus certus in re incerta cernitur
(One’s friends are known in the hour of need. – Ennius)
- Caeca invidia est
(Envy is blind. – Livius)
- Cogito ergo sum
(I think, therefore I am. – Descartes)
- Aequam servare mentem
(Keep the mind calm. – Horace)
- Crudelius est quam mori semper timere mortem
(It is more cruel to always fear death than to die. – Seneca)
- Mea mihi conscientia pluris est quam omnium sermo
(My conscience is more to me than what the world says. – Cicero)
- Nimium ne crede colori
(Trust not too much to looks. – Virgil)
- Tempus fugit
(Time flies. – Virgil)
- Timendi causa est nescire
(Ignorance is the cause of fear. – Seneca)
- Tot homines, quot sententiae
(So many men, so many opinions. – Terence)
- Copia ciborum, subtilitas impeditur
(The abundance of food hampers intelligence. – Seneca)
- Veritas numquam perit
(Truth never dies. – Seneca)
- Nemo malus felix
(No evil is happy. – Juvenalis)
- Veni, vidi, vici
(I came, I saw, I conquered. – Caesar)
- Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori
(It is sweet and fitting to die for your country. – Horace)
- Ignis aurum proat, miseria fortes viros
(Fire provides proof of gold; misery, proof of strong men. – Ovid)
- Labor omnia vincit
(Hard work conquers all. – Virgil)
- Qui totum vult totum perdit
(He who wants everything loses everything — attributed to Seneca)
- Vive memor leti
(Live remembering death. – Flaccus)
- Quam bene vivas refert, non quam diu
(It is how well you live that matters, not how long. – Seneca)
- Noli foras ire, in teipsum reddi; in interiore homine habitat veritas
(Don’t lose yourself, return to you, inside of you lives the truth. – Augustine)
- Si vis amari, ama
(If you wish to be loved, love. – Augustine)
- Vestis virum reddit
(The clothes make the man. – Quintilia)
- Amor animi arbitrio sumitur, non ponitur
(We choose to love, we do not choose to cease loving. – Syrus)
- Cui amat periculum in illo peribit
(Whoever loves danger will perish by it. – Vulgate-Ecclesiastiscus or Sirach III)
- Odi et amo
(I love and hate – Catullus)
- Serva me servabo te
(Save me and I’ll save you. – Petronius)
- Aut viam inveniam aut faciam
(I will find the way, or I will make one. – Anibal)
- Nemo mortalium omnibus horis sapit
(No mortal is wise at all times. – Pliny)
- Fortis est non pertubaris in rebus asperis
(The strong do not falter in adversity. – Cicero)
- Omne quod movetur ab alio movetur
(Everything that moves is moved by something else. – Aquinas)
- Amicitiae nostrae memoriam spero sempiternam fore
(I hope that memory of our friendship will be everlasting. – Cicero)
- Multi famam, conscientiam, pauci verentur
(Many fear their reputation, few their conscience. – Pliny)
- Optimum est pati quod emendare non possis.
(It is best to endure what you cannot change. – Seneca)
- Leve fit, quod bene fertur, onus
(The load is lite, if you know how to support it. – Ovid)
- Divide et impera
(Divide and conquered. – Caesar)
- Fata volentem ducunt, nolentem trahunt
(Fate leads the willing, and drags the unwilling. – Seneca)
- Consuetudinis magna vis est
(Old habits die hard. – Cicero)
- Fere libenter homines, id quod volunt, credunt.
(People almost always willingly believe what you want. – Caesar)
- Imperare sibi maximum imperium est
(To rule yourself is the ultimate power. – Seneca)
- Perfer et obdura; dolor hic tibi proderit olim
(Be patient and tough, this pain will serve you one day. – Ovid)
- Omnis ars naturae imitatio est
(All art is but an imitation of nature. – Seneca)
- Exigo a me non ut optimis par sim sed ut malis melior
(I require myself not to be equal to the best, but to be better than the bad. – Seneca)
- Mens sana in corpore sano
(A sound mind in a sound body. – Juvenal)
- Ab alio expectes alteri quod feceris
(Expect to receive such treatment as you have given. – Syrus)
- Aequam memento rebus in arduis servare mentem
(In adversity, remember to keep an even mind. – Horace)
- Sedit qui timuit ne non succederet
(He who feared that he would not succeed sat still. – Horace)
- Forsan et haec olim meminisse iuvabit
(Perhaps, one day, remembering even these things will bring pleasure. – Virgil)
- Perfer et obdura, dolor hic tibi proderit olim
(Be strong and endure, someday this pain will be useful to you. – Ovid)
- Dulce bellum inexpertis
(War is sweet to the inexperienced. – Erasmus)
- Multo autem ad rem magis pertinet quallis tibi vide aris quam allis
(It is much more important what you think of yourself, than what others think of you. – Seneca)
- Oportet esse ut vivas, non vivere ut edas
(Should eat to live, not live to eat. – Cicero)
- Nunc est bibendum
(Now we drink. – Horace)
- Sapere aude
(Dare to be wise – Horace)
- Vitiis nemo sine nascitur
(No one is born without faults. – Horace)
- Nescit vox miss reverti
(The words can not return. – Horace)
- Aegroto dum anima est, spes esse dicitur
(As long as there is life there is hope for the ill one, it is said. – Cicero)
- Saepe ne utile quidem est scire quid futurum sit
(Often it is not even advantageous to know what will be – Cicero)
- Ubi concordia, ibi victoria
(Where there is unity, there is the victory. – Syrus)
- Fallaces sunt rerum species
(The appearances of things are deceptive. – Seneca)
- Et tu, Brute?
(And you, Brutus?” last words of Caesar after being murdered by his friend; used today to convey utter betrayal)
- Quam se ipse amans, sine rivale
(By loving yourself, with no rival. – Cicero)
- Ferae pericula quae vident fugiunt
(The beasts flee the dangers they see. – Seneca)
- Vae victis
(Woe to the conquered. – Brennus)
- Homo vitae commodatus non donatus est
(Man’s life is lent, not given – Syrus)
Latin Quotes about Wisdom and Knowledge
- Vasa vana plurimum sonant
(Empty pots make the most noise.)
- Historia magistra vitae et testis temporum
(History is the teacher and witness of times)
- Exitus Acta Probat.
(The result justifies the deed.)
- Ad astra per aspera.
(Through adversity to the stars)
- scientia ipsa potentia est
(Knowledge itself is power)
- Faber est suae quisque fortunae.
(Every man is the artisan of his own fortune.)
- Non ducor duco.
(I am not led; I lead.)
- pecunia, si uti scis, ancilla est; si nescis, domina
(If you know how to use money, money is your slave; if you don’t, money is your master)
- In absentia lucis, Tenebrae vincunt.
(In the absence of light, darkness prevails.)
- Dum inter homines sumus, colamus humanitatem.
(As long as we are among humans, let us be humane.)
- Disce quasi semper victurus vive quasi cras moriturus
(Learn as if you’re always going to live; live as if tomorrow you’re going to die)
- Ad turpia virum bonum nulla spes invitat.
(No expectation can allure a good man to the commission of evil.)
- Nullum magnum ingenium sine mixture dementia fuit.
(There has been no great wisdom without an element of madness.)
- Ut avertam oculos meos ad intendum
(I close my eyes in order to see)
- Vir sapit qui pauca loquitur
(That man is wise who talks little)
- Respice, adspice, prospice
(Examine the past, examine the present, examine the future)
- Qui tacet consentire
(Who is silent gives consent)
- Pessimum genus inimicorum laudantes
(Flatterers are the worst type of enemies)
- Parva leves capiunt animas
(Small things occupy light minds)
- Mendacem memorem esse oportet
(It is fitting that a liar should be a man of good memory)
- Vox et praeterea nihil
(A voice and nothing more.)
- Scientia ac labore
(Knowledge through hard work)
- Vino vendibili hedera non opus est
(A popular wine needs no ivy.)
- Veritas liberabit
(The truth will make you free.)
- Verba volant, scripta manent
(Spoken words fly away, written words remain.)
- Barba tenus sapientes
(is literally said to be “wise as far as his beard”)
- Barba non facit philosophum
(“a beard does not make a philosopher,”)
- Barba crescit caput nescit
(meaning “the beard grows, but the head doesn’t grow wiser.)
- Corvus oculum corvi non eruit
(meaning “a crow will not pull out the eye of another crow.)
- Experientia docet
- Felicitas multos habet amicos
(Prosperity has many friends.)
- Nobilitat stultum vestis honesta virum
(Good clothes make a stupid man look noble.)
- Quanti est sapere
(How desirable is wisdom or knowledge.)
- Saepe malum petitur, saepe bonum fugitur
(Evil is often sought, good is often shunned.)
- Salva veritate
(With truth preserved.)
- Sapiens nihil affirmat quod non probat
(A wise man states as true nothing he does not prove – do not swear to anything you do not know firsthand).
- Suum cuique
(To each his own.)
- Sumus quod sumus
(We are what we are)
- Actio personalis moritur cum persona
(Dead men do not sue.)
- Doscendo discimus
(By teaching, we learn)
- Memores acti prudentes futuri
(Mindful of what has been done, aware of what will be)
- Aut tace aut loquere meliora silentio
(Be quiet or say something better than silence)
- Omnes volumnus plus. Et plus, et plus et plurimus
(We all want more. And more, and more and much more.)
- Posside sapientiam, quia auro melior est
(Possessing wisdom is better than owning gold)
- An dives sit omnes quærunt, nemo an bonus
(Every one inquires if he is rich; no one asks if he is good.)
- A solis ortu usque ad occasum
(From where the sun rises to where it sets.)
- Difficilius est sarcire concordiam quam rumpere
(It is more difficult to restore harmony than sow dissension.)
- Etiam sanato vulnere cicatrix manet
(Though the wound is healed, a scar remains.)
- Errare humanum est
(It is human to err.)
- Laudari a viro laudato maxima est laus
(To be commended by a man of high repute is the greatest possible praise.)
- Et ipsa scientia potestas est
(And knowledge itself, is power)
- Non qui parum habet, sed qui plus cupit, pauper est
(It is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, that is poor.)
- Malum sed mulliere, sed necessarium malum
(Women are evil, a necessary evil)
- Vi Veri Veniversum Vivus Vici.
(By the power of truth, I, while living, have conquered the universe.)
- Necessitas non habet legem.
Necessity has no law.
- Nil satis nisi optimum.
Nothing but the best is good enough.
- Dum spiro spero.
While I breathe, I hope.
- Ne plus ultra.
Famous Latin Phrases
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- In vino veritas.
- In wine, there is truth.
This Latin saying suggests that you’ll probably spill all your secrets if you drink too much alcohol.
- 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.
- Quid pro quo
Something for something
Or ‘this for that’. A favor granted in return for something else. Similar to “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours”.
- Deus ex machina
God from the machine
A plot device used to resolve a seemingly unsolvable problem. It’s often considered a lazy or cheap way to tie loose ends in movies or books. A good example could be Arya killing the Night King in Game of Thrones.
- Ad hoc
Or ‘for this purpose. Something that is not planned, but done only when it’s needed. An ad hoc meeting.
- Mea culpa
Through my fault
An acknowledgment of one’s fault or an admission of guilt.
- Status quo
The existing state (of affairs)
Mainly used with regard to social or political issues. “The officials wanted to maintain the status quo, so they did not vote to admit the new members.
- Per se (and not ‘per say’)
By itself or in itself
Used to describe or talk about something on its own, rather than in connection with other things. “I’m not a fan of the Latin language per se, but rather its influence on modern languages.”
- Alma mater
Used to identify the institution of education that one formerly attended. It suggests that a school provides intellectual nourishment to its students.
- De facto
Describes something existing in fact, although perhaps not legal. It contrasts with de jure, which refers to things that happen according to law.
- Persona non grata
An unwelcome person
Especially used in diplomacy, but also in day-to-day conversations. “Julian is a persona non grata for us since he offended Miriam.
- Bona fide
In good faith
If something was made bona fide, then it is sincere, genuine or authentic.
- Sui generis
Of its/his/her/their own kind
Constituting a class alone. Unique. Think of Mozart for example.
- Sine qua non
Without which, not
Something absolutely essential. A more clear translation could be ‘without (something), (something else) won’t be possible’. “Creativity is a sine qua non for writing novels.”
- Ad infinitum
Unlike the previous Latin words, this one is pretty self-explanatory.
- Et cetera
And other similar things
Every student’s favorite. We all know what this one means, don’t we?
Spicing up your speeches and delivery with latin quotations will go a long way to enhance your presentations.