List of Latin phrases (A)

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This page lists direct English translations of Latin phrases, such as veni vidi vici and et cetera. Some of the phrases are translations of older Greek phrases, because Greek rhetoric and literature reached its peak centuries before that of ancient Rome.

This list covers the letter A. For the main list, see: List of Latin phrases.

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Latin Translation Notes
a bene placito from one well pleased Or "at will", "at one's pleasure". This phrase, and its Italian (beneplacito) and Spanish (beneplácito) derivatives, mean the same as the more common ad libitum (at pleasure).
a caelo usque ad centrum from the sky to the center Or "from heaven all the way to the center of the earth". In law, can refer to the obsolete cuius est solum eius est usque ad coelum et ad inferos, a maxim of property ownership ("for whoever owns the soil, it is theirs up to the sky and down to the depths").
a capite ad calcem from head to heel From top to bottom; all the way through (colloquially "from head to toe"). Equally a pedibus usque ad caput.
a contrario from the opposite Equivalent to "on the contrary" or "au contraire". An argumentum a contrario is an "argument from the contrary", an argument or proof by contrast or direct opposite.
a Deucalione from or since Deucalion A long time ago. From Gaius Lucilius (Satires, 6, 284)
a falsis principiis proficisci from false principles Legal term from Cicero's De Finibus 4.53. See: Argument from false premises.
a fortiori from the stronger Loosely, "even more so" or "with even stronger reason". Often used to lead from a less certain proposition to a more evident corollary.
a mari usque ad mare from sea to sea From Psalm 72:8, "Et dominabitur a mari usque ad mare, et a flumine usque ad terminos terrae" (KJV: "He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth"). National motto of Canada.
a pedibus usque ad caput from feet to head Completely. Similar to the English expressions "from tip to toe" or "from top to toe". Equally a capite ad calcem. See also ab ovo usque ad mala.
a posse ad esse from being able to being "From possibility to actuality" or "from being possible to being actual"
a posteriori from the latter Based on observation (i.e., empirical knowledge), the reverse of a priori. Used in mathematics and logic to denote something that is known after a proof has been carried out. In philosophy, used to denote something that can be known from empirical experience.
a priori from the former Presupposed, the reverse of a posteriori. Used in mathematics and logic to denote something that is known or postulated before a proof has been carried out. In philosophy, used to denote something that can be known without empirical experience. In everyday speech, it denotes something occurring or being known before the event.
ab absurdo from the absurd Said of an argument that seeks to prove a statement's validity by pointing out the absurdity of an opponent's position (cf. appeal to ridicule) or that an assertion is false because of its absurdity. Not to be confused with a reductio ad absurdum, which is usually a valid logical argument.
ab abusu ad usum non valet consequentia an inference from an abuse to a use is not valid Rights abused are still rights (cf. abusus non tollit usum).
ab aeterno from the eternal Literally, "from the everlasting" or "from eternity". Thus, "from time immemorial", "since the beginning of time" or "from an infinitely remote time in the past". In theology, often indicates something, such as the universe, that was created outside of time.
ab antiquo from the ancient From ancient times.
ab epistulis from the letters Or, having to do with correspondence.
ab extra from beyond A legal term meaning "from without". From external sources, rather than from the self or the mind (ab intra).
ab hinc or abhinc from here on
ab imo pectore from the deepest chest Or "from the bottom of my heart", "with deepest affection", "sincerely".. Attributed to Julius Caesar.
ab inconvenienti from an inconvenient thing New Latin for "based on unsuitability", "from inconvenience" or "from hardship". An argumentum ab inconvenienti is one based on the difficulties involved in pursuing a line of reasoning, and is thus a form of appeal to consequences; it refers to a rule in law that an argument from inconvenience has great weight.
ab incunabulis from the cradle Thus, "from the beginning" or "from infancy". Incunabula is commonly used in English to refer to the earliest stage or origin of something, and especially to copies of books that predate the spread of the printing press around AD 1500.
ab initio from the beginning "At the outset", referring to an inquiry or investigation. In literature, refers to a story told from the beginning rather than in medias res (from the middle). In law, refers to something being the case from the start or from the instant of the act, rather than from when the court declared it so. A judicial declaration of the invalidity of a marriage ab initio is a nullity. In science, refers to the first principles. In other contexts, often refers to beginner or training courses. Ab initio mundi means "from the beginning of the world".
ab intestato from an intestate From someone who dies with no legal will (cf. ex testamento).
ab intra from within From the inside. The opposite of ab extra.
ab irato from an angry man By a person who is angry. Used in law to describe a decision or action that is detrimental to those it affects and was made based on hatred or anger, rather than on reason. The form irato is masculine; however, this does not mean it applies only to men, rather 'person' is meant, as the phrase probably elides "homo," not "vir."
ab origine from the source From the origin, beginning, source, or commencement—i.e., "originally". The source of the word aboriginal.
ab ovo usque ad mala from the egg to the apples From Horace, Satire 1.3. Means "from beginning to end", based on the Roman main meal typically beginning with an egg dish and ending with fruit (cf. the English phrase soup to nuts). Thus, ab ovo means "from the beginning", and can also connote thoroughness.
ab uno disce omnes from one, learn all From Virgil's Aeneid. Refers to situations where a single example or observation indicates a general or universal truth. Visible in the court of King Silas in the TV series Kings.
ab urbe condita (a.u.c.) from the city having been founded Or "from the founding of Rome", which occurred in 753 BC according to Livy's count. Used as a reference point in ancient Rome for establishing dates, before being supplanted by other systems. Also anno urbis conditae (a.u.c.) (literally "in the year of the founded city").
ab utili from utility Used of an argument.
absens haeres non erit an absent person will not be an heir In law, refers to the principle that someone who is not present is unlikely to inherit.
absente reo (abs. re.) [with] the defendant being absent In the absence of the accused.
absit iniuria verbis (or injuria) let injury be absent from [these] words Expresses the wish that no insult or wrong be conveyed by the speaker's words, i.e., "no offence". See also absit invidia.
absit invidia let ill will be absent Although similar to the English expression "no offence", absit invidia is not a mere social gesture to avoid causing offense, but also a way to ward off the harm that some people superstitiously believe animosity can cause others. Also extended to absit invidia verbo, meaning "may ill will be absent from the word" (cf. absit iniuria verbis).
absit omen let an omen be absent Or "let this not be a bad omen". Expresses the wish that something seemingly ill-boding does not turn out to be an omen for future events, and calls on divine protection against evil.
absolutum dominium absolute dominion Total power or sovereignty.
absolvo I acquit A legal term said by a judge acquitting a defendant following a trial. Te absolvo or absolvo te, translated, "I forgive you," said by Roman Catholic priests during the Sacrament of Confession prior to the Second Vatican Council.
abundans cautela non nocet abundant caution does no harm Frequently phrased as "one can never be too careful".
abusus non tollit usum misuse does not remove use Just because something is misused doesn't mean it can't be used correctly.
abyssus abyssum invocat deep calleth unto deep From Psalms 42:7; some translations have 'Sea calls to sea'.
accipe hoc Take this Motto of 848 Naval Air Squadron, Royal Navy.
accusare nemo se debet nisi coram Deo no one ought to accuse himself except in the Presence of God A legal maxim denoting that any accused person is entitled to make a plea of not guilty, and also that a witness is not obliged to give a response or submit a document that will incriminate himself. A very similar phrase is nemo tenetur se ipsum accusare "no one is bound to accuse himself". See right to silence.
acta deos numquam mortalia fallunt mortal actions never deceive the gods Ovid's Tristia 1.2.97: si tamen acta deos numquam mortalia fallunt, / a culpa facinus scitis abesse mea. "Yet if mortal actions never deceive the gods, / you know that crime was absent from my fault."
acta est fabula plaudite The play has been performed; applaud! A common ending to ancient Roman comedies, also claimed by Suetonius in The Twelve Caesars to have been Augustus' last words. Applied by Sibelius to the third movement of his String Quartet no. 2 so that his audience would realize it was the last one, as a fourth would normally be expected.
acta non verba Deeds, not Words Motto of the United States Merchant Marine Academy.
acta sanctorum Deeds of the Saints Also used in the singular, Acta Sancti (Deeds of the Saint), preceding a specific Saint's name. A common title of works in hagiography.
actus me invito factus non est meus actus the act done by me against my will is not my act
actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea The act does not make [a person] guilty unless the mind should be guilty. A legal term outlining the presumption of mens rea in a crime.
actus reus guilty act The actual crime that is committed, rather than the intent or thought process leading up to the crime. Thus, the external elements of a crime, as contrasted with mens rea, the internal elements.
ad absurdum to the absurd In logic, to the point of being silly or nonsensical. See also reductio ad absurdum. Not to be confused with ab absurdo (from the absurd).
ad abundantiam to abundance In legal language, used when providing additional evidence to an already sufficient collection. Also used commonly, as an equivalent of "as if this wasn't enough".
ad arbitrium at will, at pleasure
ad astra to the stars Name or motto (in full or part) of many organizations, publications, etc.
ad astra per alia porci to the stars on the wings of a pig A favorite saying of John Steinbeck. A professor told him that he would be an author when pigs flew. Every book he wrote is printed with this insignia.
ad astra per aspera to the stars through difficulty Motto of Kansas, and other organisations. The phrase is also translated as "A rough road leads to the stars", as on the Launch Complex 34 memorial plaque for the astronauts of Apollo 1.
ad captandum vulgus in order to capture the crowd To appeal to the masses. Often used of politicians. An argumentum ad captandum is an argument designed to please the crowd.
ad eundem to the same An ad eundem degree, from the Latin ad eundem gradum (to the same step" or "to the same degree), is a courtesy degree awarded by one university or college to an alumnus of another. It is not an honorary degree, but a recognition of the formal learning that earned the degree at another college.
ad fontes to the sources A motto of Renaissance humanism. Also used in the Protestant Reformation.
ad fundum to the bottom Said during a generic toast, equivalent to "bottoms up!" In other contexts, generally means "back to the basics".
ad hoc to this Generally means "for this", in the sense of improvised on the spot or designed for only a specific, immediate purpose.
ad hominem to the man Or "at the man". Typically used in argumentum ad hominem, a logical fallacy consisting of criticizing a person when the subject of debate is the person's ideas or argument, on the mistaken assumption that the soundness of an argument is dependent on the qualities of the proponent.
ad honorem to the honour Generally means "for the honour", not seeking any material reward.
ad infinitum to infinity Going on forever. Used to designate a property which repeats in all cases in mathematical proof.
ad interim (ad int) for the meantime As in the term "chargé d'affaires ad interim" for a diplomatic officer who acts in place of an ambassador.
ad kalendas graecas at the Greek Calends Attributed by Suetonius in The Twelve Caesars to Augustus. The Calends were specific days of the Roman calendar, not of the Greek, and so the "Greek Kalends" would never occur. Similar to "when pigs fly".
ad libitum (ad lib) toward pleasure Loosely, "according to what pleases" or "as you wish"; libitum comes from the past participle of libere, "to please". It typically indicates in music and theatrical scripts that the performer has the liberty to change or omit something. Ad lib is specifically often used when someone improvises or ignores limitations.
ad litem to the lawsuit A legal term referring to a party appointed by a court to act in a lawsuit on behalf of another party who is deemed incapable of representing himself. An individual who acts in this capacity is called a guardian ad litem.
ad lucem to the light Motto of Oxford High School (Oxford), the University of Lisbon, Withington Girls' School and St. Bartholomew's School, Newbury, UK
ad maiorem Dei gloriam or ad majorem Dei gloriam (AMDG) to the greater glory of God Motto of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). Edward Elgar dedicated his oratorio The Dream of Gerontius "A.M.D.G."
ad meliora Towards better things motto of St. Patrick's College, Cavan, Ireland
ad mortem To death used in medical contexts as a synonym for death
ad multos annos to many years! A wish for a long life. Similar to "Many happy returns!"
ad nauseam to seasickness Or "to the point of disgust". Sometimes used as a humorous alternative to ad infinitum. An argumentum ad nauseam is a logical fallacy involving basing one's argument on prolonged repetition, i.e., repeating something so much that people are "sick of it".
ad oculos to the eyes Meaning "obvious on sight" or "obvious to anyone that sees it".
ad pedem litterae to the foot of the letter Thus, "exactly as it is written". Similar to the phrase "to the letter", meaning "to the last detail".
ad perpetuam memoriam to the perpetual memory Generally precedes "of" and a person's name, and is used to wish for someone to be remembered long after death.
ad pondus omnium (ad pond om) to the weight of all things More loosely, "considering everything's weight". The abbreviation was historically used by physicians and others to signify that the last prescribed ingredient is to weigh as much as all of the previously mentioned ones.
ad quod damnum to whatever damage Meaning "according to the harm" or "in proportion to the harm". The phrase is used in tort law as a measure of damages inflicted, implying that a remedy, if one exists, ought to correspond specifically and only to the damage suffered (cf. damnum absque iniuria).
ad referendum
(ad ref)
to be proposed [before the Senate] Loosely "subject to reference": provisionally approved, but still needing official approval. Not the same as a referendum.
ad rem to the matter Thus, "to the point", without digression.
ad terminum qui praeteriit for the term which has passed A legal term for a writ of entry ad terminum qui praeteriit [for the term which has passed].[1]
ad undas to the waves Equivalent to "to hell".
ad usum Delphini for the use of the Dauphin Said of a work that has been expurgated of offensive or improper parts. The phrase originates from editions of Greek and Roman classics which Louis XIV had censored for his heir apparent, the Dauphin. Also rarely in usum Delphini (into the use of the Dauphin).
ad usum proprium (ad us. propr.) for one's own use
ad utrumque paratus prepared for either [alternative] The motto of Lund University, with the implied alternatives being the book (study) and the sword (defending the country in war).
ad valorem according to value Used in commerce to refer to ad valorem taxes, taxes based on the assessed value of real estate or personal property.
ad victoriam to victory More commonly translated into "for victory" this is a battlecry of the Romans.
ad vitam aeternam to eternal life Also "to life everlasting". A common Biblical phrase.
ad vitam aut culpam for life or until fault Usually used of a term of office.
addendum thing to be added An item to be added, especially a supplement to a book. The plural is addenda.
adaequatio intellectus et rei correspondence of the mind and reality One of the definitions of the truth. When the mind has the same form as reality, we think truth. Also found as adaequatio rei et intellectus.
adaequatio intellectus nostri cum re conformity of our minds to the fact A phrase used in Epistemology regarding the nature of understanding.
adsum I am here Equivalent to "Present!" or "Here!" The opposite of absum "I am absent".
adversus solem ne loquitor don't speak against the sun Or don't argue what's obviously wrong.
aegri somnia a sick man's dreams From Horace, Ars Poetica, 7. Loosely, "troubled dreams".
aetat. "of age" / "aged" (in the sense of: "age: ...) Abbreviation of "aetatis"; further abbreviated (and more common): "aet." – e.g.: "aetat" or "aet. 36" = "36 years old".
aetatis suae of one's own age Thus, "at the age of". Appeared on portraits, gravestones, etc. Sometimes extended to anno aetatis suae (AAS), "in the year of his age". Sometimes shortened to just aetatis or aetat (aet.).
The tomb reads Anno 1629 Aetatis Suae 46 because she died in 1629 at age 46.
affidavit he asserted A legal term from Medieval Latin referring to a sworn statement. From fides, "faith".
age quod agis Do what you are doing. More often translated as "Do well whatever you do", this phrase is used as the motto of several Catholic schools.
agenda things to be done Originally comparable to a to-do list, an ordered list of things to be done. Now generalized to include any planned course of action. The singular, agendum (thing that must be done), is rarely used.
agere sequitur credere action follows belief "We act according to what we believe (ourselves to be)".[2]
agere sequitur (esse) action follows being Metaphysical and moral principle that indicates the connection among ontology, obligation and ethics.[2]
Agnus Dei Lamb of God Latin translation from John 1:36, where John the Baptist exclaims Ecce Agnus Dei! "Behold the Lamb of God!" upon seeing Jesus, referring both to a lamb's connotations of innocence and to a sacrificial lamb.
alea iacta est the die has been cast Or in Greek, ἀνεῤῥίφθω κύβος anerrhíphthō kýbos; said by Julius Caesar upon crossing the Rubicon in 49 BC, according to Suetonius. The original meaning was similar to "the game is afoot", but its modern meaning, like that of the phrase "crossing the Rubicon", denotes passing the point of no return on a momentous decision and entering into a risky endeavor where the outcome is left to chance.
alenda lux ubi orta libertas Light [is] to be nourished where liberty [has] arisen. Or "let learning be cherished..." The motto of Davidson College.
alias at another time, otherwise An assumed name or pseudonym. Similar to alter ego, but more specifically referring to a name, not to a "second self".
alibi elsewhere A legal defense where a defendant attempts to show that he was elsewhere at the time a crime was committed.
His alibi is sound; he gave evidence that he was in another city on the night of the murder.
aliquid stat pro aliquo something stands for something else A foundational definition for semiotics.
alis aquilae on an eagle's wings taken from the Book of Isaiah, Chapter 40. "But those who wait for the Lord shall find their strength renewed, they shall mount up on wings like eagles, they shall run and not grow weary, they shall walk and not grow faint."
alis grave nil nothing [is] heavy with wings Or "nothing is heavy to those who have wings". Motto of the Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro.
alis volat propriis she flies with her own wings State motto of Oregon; adopted in 1987, it replaced "The Union", which was the previous state motto adopted in 1957.
alma mater nourishing mother Term used for the university one attends or has attended. Another university term, matriculation, is also derived from mater. The term suggests that the students are "fed" knowledge and taken care of by the university. The term is also used for a university's traditional school anthem.
alter ego another I Another self, a second persona or alias. Can be used to describe different facets or identities of a single character, or different characters who seem representations of the same personality. Often used of a fictional character's secret identity.
alterius non sit qui suus esse potest Let no man be another's who can be his own Final sentence from Aesop ascribed fable (see also Aesop's Fables) "The Frogs Who Desired a King" as appears in the collection commonly known as the "Anonymus Neveleti" (fable XXIb. De ranis a Iove querentibus regem). Motto of Paracelsus. Usually attributed to Cicero.
alterum non laedere to not wound another One of Justinian I's three basic legal precepts.
alumnus or
pupil graduate or former student of a school, college or university
amicus curiae friend of the court An adviser, or a person who can obtain or grant access to the favour of powerful group, like a Roman Curia. In current U.S. legal usage, an amicus curiae is a third party allowed to submit a legal opinion (in the form of an amicus brief) to the court.
amittere legem terrae to lose the law of the land An obsolete legal term signifying the forfeiture of the right of swearing in any court or cause, or to become infamous.
amor est vitae essentia love is the essence of life As said by Robert B. Mackay, Australian Analyst.
amor et melle et felle est fecundissimus love is rich with both honey and venom
amor fati love of fate Nietzscheian alternative world view to memento mori [remember you must die]. Nietzsche believed amor fati to be more life affirming.
amor omnibus idem love is the same for all from Virgil's Georgics III.
amor patriae love of one's country Patriotism.
amor vincit omnia love conquers all written on bracelet worn by the Prioress in Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales
anglice in English Used before the anglicized version of a word or name. For example, "Terra Mariae, anglice, Maryland".
anno (an.) in the year Also used in such phrases as anno urbis conditae (see ab urbe condita), Anno Domini, and anno regni.
Anno Domini (A.D.) in the Year of the Lord Short for Anno Domini Nostri Iesu Christi (in the Year of Our Lord Jesus Christ), the predominantly used system for dating years across the world, used with the Gregorian calendar, and based on the perceived year of the birth of Jesus Christ. The years before Jesus' birth were once marked with a.C.n (Ante Christum Natum, Before Christ was Born), but now use the English abbreviation BC (Before Christ) or B.C.E. (Before the Common Era).
Augustus Caesar was born in the year 63 BC, and died AD 14.
anno regni In the year of the reign Precedes "of" and the current ruler.
Annuit cœptis He 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.
annus horribilis horrible year A recent pun on annus mirabilis, first used by Queen Elizabeth II to describe what a bad year 1992 had been for her, and subsequently occasionally used to refer to many other years perceived as "horrible". In Classical Latin, this phrase would actually mean "terrifying year". See also annus terribilis.
annus mirabilis wonderful year Used particularly to refer to the years 1665–1666, during which Isaac Newton made revolutionary inventions and discoveries in calculus, motion, optics and gravitation. Annus Mirabilis is also the title of a poem by John Dryden written in the same year. It has since been used to refer to other years, especially to 1905, when Albert Einstein made equally revolutionary discoveries concerning the photoelectric effect, Brownian motion and the special theory of relativity. (See Annus Mirabilis papers)
annus terribilis dreadful year Used to describe 1348, the year the Black Death began to afflict Europe.
ante bellum before the war As in "status quo ante bellum", "as it was before the war". Commonly used in the Southern United States as antebellum to refer to the period preceding the American Civil War.
ante cibum (a.c.) before food Medical shorthand for "before meals".
ante litteram before the letter Said of an expression or term that describes something which existed before the phrase itself was introduced or became common.
Alan Turing was a computer scientist ante litteram, since the field of "computer science" was not yet recognized in Turing's day.
ante meridiem (a.m.) before midday From midnight to noon (cf. post meridiem).
ante mortem before death See post mortem (after death).
ante prandium (a.p.) before lunch Used on pharmaceutical prescriptions to denote "before a meal". Less common is post prandium, "after lunch".
apparatus criticus tools of a critic Textual notes. A list of other readings relating to a document, especially in a scholarly edition of a text.
aqua (aq.) water
aqua fortis strong water Refers to nitric acid.
aqua pura pure water Or "clear water", "clean water".
aqua regia royal water refers to a mixture of hydrochloric acid and nitric acid.
aqua vitae water of life "Spirit of Wine" in many English texts. Used to refer to various native distilled beverages, such as whisky (uisge beatha) in Scotland and Ireland, gin in Holland, brandy (eau de vie) in France, and akvavit in Scandinavia.
aquila non capit muscas an eagle doesn't catch flies A noble or important person doesn't deal with insignificant issues.
arare litus to plough the seashore From Gerhard Gerhards' (1466–1536) [better known as Erasmus] collection of annotated Adagia (1508). Wasted labour.
arbiter elegantiarum judge of tastes One who prescribes, rules on, or is a recognized authority on matters of social behavior and taste. Said of Petronius. Sometimes found in the singular, arbiter elegantiae (judge of taste).
arcus senilis bow of an old person An opaque circle around the cornea of the eye, often seen in elderly people.
argentum album white silver Also "silver coin". Mentioned in the Domesday Book, signifies bullion, or silver uncoined.
arguendo for arguing For the sake of argument. Said when something is done purely in order to discuss a matter or illustrate a point.
Let us assume, arguendo, that your claim is correct.
argumentum argument Or "reasoning", "inference", "appeal", "proof". The plural is argumenta. Commonly used in the names of logical arguments and fallacies, preceding phrases such as a silentio (by silence), ad antiquitatem (to antiquity), ad baculum (to the stick), ad captandum (to capturing), ad consequentiam (to the consequence), ad crumenam (to the purse), ad feminam (to the woman), ad hominem (to the person), ad ignorantiam (to ignorance), ad judicium (to judgment), ad lazarum (to poverty), ad logicam (to logic), ad metum (to fear), ad misericordiam (to pity), ad nauseam (to nausea), ad novitatem (to novelty), ad personam (to the character), ad numerum (to the number), ad odium (to spite), ad populum (to the people), ad temperantiam (to moderation), ad verecundiam (to reverence), ex silentio (from silence), in terrorem (into terror), and e contrario (from/to the opposite).
ars [est] celare artem art [is] to conceal art An aesthetic ideal that good art should appear natural rather than contrived. Of medieval origin, but often incorrectly attributed to Ovid.[3]
ars gratia artis art for art's sake Translated into Latin from Baudelaire's "L'art pour l'art". Motto of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. This phrasing is a direct translation of 'art for the sake of art.' While very symmetrical for the MGM logo, the better Latin word order is 'Ars artis gratia.'
ars longa, vita brevis art is long, life is short The Latin translation by Seneca (De Brevitate Vitae, 1.1) of a phrase from Hippocrates, often used out of context. The "art" referred to in the original aphorism was the craft of medicine, which took a lifetime to acquire.
arte et labore by art and by labour motto of Blackburn Rovers F.C.
Artis Bohemiae Amicis Friends of Czech Arts Award of the Minister of Culture of the Czech Republic for the promotion of the positive reputation of Czech culture abroad.
asinus ad lyram an ass to the lyre From Erasmus's collection of Adages. An awkward or incompetent individual.
asinus asinum fricat the jackass rubs the jackass Used to describe two people lavishing excessive praise on one another.
assecuratus non quaerit lucrum sed agit ne in damno sit the assured does not seek profit but makes [it his profit] that he not be in loss Refers to the insurance principle that the indemnity cannot be larger than the loss.
auctoritas authority The level of prestige a person had in Roman society.
audacter calumniare, semper aliquid haeret slander boldly, something always sticks from Francis Bacon, De Augmentis Scientiarum (1623)
audax at fidelis bold but faithful Motto of Queensland.
audeamus let us dare Motto of Otago University Students' Association, a direct response to the university's motto of sapere aude "dare to be wise".
audemus jura nostra defendere we dare to defend our rights State motto of Alabama, adopted in 1923. Translated into Latin from a paraphrase of the stanza "Men who their duties know / But know their rights, and knowing, dare maintain" from the poem "What Constitutes a State?" by 18th-century author William Jones.
audentes fortuna iuvat fortune favors the bold From Virgil, Aeneid X, 284 (where the first word is in the archaic form audentis). Allegedly the last words of Pliny the Elder before he left the docks at Pompeii to rescue people from the eruption of Vesuvius in 79. Often quoted as audaces fortuna iuvat. Also the motto of the Portuguese Army Commandos, and the USS Montpelier (SSN-765) in the latter form.
audere est facere to dare is to do motto of Tottenham Hotspur F.C.
audi alteram partem hear the other side A legal principle of fairness. Also worded as audiatur et altera pars (let the other side be heard too).
audio hostem I hear the enemy Motto of 845 NACS Royal Navy
audi, vide, tace hear, see, be silent Motto of Security Information Service of the Czech Republic
aurea mediocritas golden mean From Horace's Odes II, 10. Refers to the ethical goal of reaching a virtuous middle ground between two sinful extremes. The golden mean concept is common to many philosophers, chiefly Aristotle.
auri sacra fames accursed hunger for gold From Virgil, Aeneid 3,57. Later quoted by Seneca as quod non mortalia pectora coges, auri sacra fames "What don't you force mortal hearts [to do], accursed hunger for gold!"
auribus teneo lupum I hold a wolf by the ears A common ancient proverb, this version from Terence. 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."
aurora australis southern dawn The Southern Lights, an aurora that appears in the Southern Hemisphere. It is less well-known than the Northern Lights, or aurorea borealis. The Aurora Australis is also the name of an Antarctic icebreaker ship.
aurora borealis northern dawn The Northern Lights, an aurora that appears in the Northern Hemisphere.
aurum potestas est gold is power Motto of the fictional Fowl family in the Artemis Fowl series, written by Eoin Colfer
auspicium melioris aevi hope of a better age Motto of Raffles Institution, a secondary school in Singapore.
aut Caesar aut nihil either Caesar or nothing Indicates that the only valid possibility is to be emperor, or a similarly prominent position. More generally, "all or nothing". Adopted by Cesare Borgia as a personal motto.
aut concilio aut ense either by meeting or the sword Thus, either through reasoned discussion or through war. A former motto of Chile, replaced by post tenebras lux.
aut pax aut bellum either peace or war The motto of the Gunn Clan.
aut viam inveniam aut faciam I shall either find or make a way Hannibal.
aut vincere aut mori either to conquer or to die A general pledge of victoria aut mors "victory or death". Motto of the Higgenbotham, and Higginbottom families of Cheshire England; participants in the War of the Roses.
ave atque vale Hail and farewell! From Catullus, carmen 101, addressed to his deceased brother.
ave Europa nostra vera Patria Hail, Europe, our true Fatherland! Anthem of Pan-Europeanists.
Ave Imperator, morituri te salutant Hail, Emperor! Those who are about to die salute you! From Suetonius' The Twelve Caesars, Claudius 21. The traditional greeting of gladiators prior to battle. morituri is also translated as "we who are about to die" based on the context in which it was spoken, and this translation is sometimes aided by changing the Latin to nos morituri te salutamus.
Ave Maria Hail, Mary Catholic prayer of intercession asking Mary, the mother of Jesus to pray for the petitioner.


  1. William Blakestone. Book 3 Chapter 10: Of Injuries to Real Property, And First of Dispossession, or Ouster, of The Freehold footnote 47
  2. 2.0 2.1 James T. Bretzke, Consecrated phrases: a Latin theological dictionary : Latin expressions commonly found in theological writings (Liturgical Press, 1998), p. 10. ISBN 0814658806, ISBN 9780814658802
  3. Peter Jones (2006). Reading Ovid: Stories from the Metamorphoses. Cambridge University Press. p. 223. ISBN 0521849012.