Growing up In Canada and going to a Catholic elementary school not only meant that I had to take French as a second language, but it also meant that I had to study Latin. I have to be honest and say that I hated it and all the Latin phrases I had to learn! I disliked it so much that my friends and I would spend more time mocking it by speaking ‘Pig Latin’ than we would by actually studying it. For example, one thing we would say is ‘ywhay areway eway eingbay orcedfay otay udystay isthay eadday anguagela’ which translates to ‘why are we being forced to study this dead language?’ Well, that soon ended once my mother got word of my grade on the first exam, which shall we say was less than stellar! From that day on, that persona non grata (Mom) saw to it that I studied my butt off which resulted in my learning some Latin phrases about life that have stuck with me to this day.
Below I provide some of my favorite Latin phrases and in my opinion how we can make them actionable. If you have a different interpretation, I would love to hear it in the comments below!
(1) Docendo discimus
Simply means, ‘by teaching we learn’.
Make it actionable: A variation of this phrase comes from Seneca the Younger, ‘Homines dum docent discount’ in his Letters to Lucilius, which translates to “Men learn while they teach.”. As we said in a previous post, one of the best ways to learn is to teach it to someone else.
(2) Nemo Sine Vitio Est
This one comes from Seneca the Elder and it means ‘no one is without fault.’
Make it actionable: Don’t be so quick to judge others, we all have our faults and our limitations.
(3) Vincit qui se vincit
Which translates to “he conquers who conquers himself.”
Make it actionable: To me, this is all about self-discipline and how your ability to be self-disciplined will lead to your ultimate success.
(4)Non ducor, duco
Meaning, “I am not led, I lead.”
Make it actionable: It sounds a little cocky, at least to me, as there are times in your life that you must be a good follower. On the other hand, I believe that you need to take charge and lead more than you follow if you want to get anywhere in life.
(5) In Vino Veritas
Which translates to, “in wine lies the truth” meaning when someone drinks, they speak the truth.”
Make it actionable: I have seen this play out many times. In my opinion, alcohol can lower people’s inhibitions causing them to say things they may not say if not under the influence. So, be careful what you say after indulging.In Japan, this is called ‘nominication’ and it is used for bosses and employees to get drunk together and speak the truth without consequences.
(6)Cacatio Matutina Est Tamquam Medicina
This one is basically saying that pooping in the morning is good for your health
Make it actionable: I’ll just leave this one be.
(7) Memento mori
Meaning “remember (that) you will die”
Make it actionable: Reflecting on death can sometimes help you live life to the fullest and enjoy every moment.
(8) Memento audere semper
Which translates to “remember to always dare”
Make it actionable: Sometimes in life, we need to take risks to succeed.
(9) Semper paratus
As well as being the motto of both the Boy Scouts and U.S. Coastguard, it was also the motto of my high school and it simply means “Always prepared,”
Make it actionable: Being prepared will serve you well in life and allow you to embrace both opportunities and challenges that come your way.
(10) Ceteris paribus
I once had a professor who said this one all the time and it means “all other things being equal.”
Make it actionable: You can use it when you want to isolate something and concentrate on it.But, remember, all other things are almost never equal!
(11) Semper fidelis
The motto of the U.S. Marines amongst others, which means “always faithful,”
Make it actionable: I’m not exactly sure how to make it actionable, other than the fact that you see it so often it is good to know what it means.
(12) Amor vincit omnia
Which means that “love conquers all”.
Make it actionable: Many of you probably know this one already, but it is a good reminder to be kind and give your love to others.
(13) Ex nihilo nihil:
Meaning “nothing comes from nothing”, in other words, you can’t achieve anything if you do nothing.
Make it actionable: Be diligent and work toward your goals by taking small steps every day.
(14) Aut viam inveniam aut faciam
This one is attributed to the ancient military commander Hannibal and it means “I will either find a way or make one”.
Make it actionable: Keep pursuing your goals no matter what obstacles stand in your way.
(15) Dum spiro spero
Meaning “while I breathe, I hope” which is a motto of South Carolina amongst other families, organizations and places.
Make it actionable: My interpretation is that no matter how bad things get if you are breathing you have hope and to continue pushing on.
(16) Semper ad mellora
Which translates to “always onward toward better things”:
Make it actionable: This one reminds me of another quote that a mentor of mine always says, “always forward never back”. As in, keep charging ahead and leave the past behind.
(17) Audaces fortuna juvat
Which means that ‘fortune favors the bold”.
Make it actionable: Similar to #8, sometimes in order to receive a reward you need to take a risk.
(18) Silentium est aureum
Meaning “silence is golden”
Make it actionable: I’ve seen this interpreted a few ways. One is to take some time to embrace silence and be one with your thoughts. Another is in the quest for truth and knowledge, be silent and keep your mind silent as you observe and listen to others.
(19) Non desistas non exieris
Meaning “never give up, never surrender!”
Make it actionable: Keep chasing your dreams and never give up!
So, that’s it for my list of Latin phrases about life.
In conclusion…evenyay oughthay Iyay atedhay ityay atyay ethay imetay, Iyay’may adglay ymay omMay orcedfay emay otay earnlay ityay. Asyay arlosCay uizRay afZayónay aidsay inyay eThay adowShay ofyay ethay indWay,”ereThay’say onay uchsay ingthay asyay eadday anguageslay, onlyyay ormantday indsmay.”
Ah right, let me translate that for you…
“Even though I hated it at the time, I’m glad my mom forced me to learn it. As Carlos Ruiz Zafón said in The Shadow of the Wind, “there is no such thing as dead languages only dormant minds.”
I guess Vulpem pilum mutat, non mores – “the fox changes his fur, not his habits”.
Until next time, keep learning those latin life phrases, carpe diem and as always…PYMFP!
When to Use It:
Use these Latin phrases about life when you need a little inspiration, to make sense out of something or when you see them to understand what they mean.
What Do You Think of These Latin Phrases?
Did you take Latin back in school, how was it for you? Do any of these Latin phrases about life resonate with you? Are there any Latin phrases about life that we didn’t cover? Please share in the comments below!
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