Popular Phrases and Expressions in Latin (with Meaning and Origin)

Latin expressions are phrases or sets of words that come from the Latin language. Latin is the classical language originating from ancient Rome, which had much relevance and influence on different modern languages.

These expressions have been incorporated into areas such as law, medicine, science and general culture. Some continue to resonate in modern society and reflect the rich cultural heritage of ancient Rome.

Carpe Diem

It is one of the literary topics par excellence, it was popularized by the Roman poet Horace. Emphasize the importance of taking advantage of the present moment and not postponing opportunities. It urges you to live fully each day and consciously, enjoying life without delay.


It is a Latin demonstrative pronoun that is used to indicate that something is equal or identical to that mentioned above. In references and citations, this expression is used to avoid repetition of names or terms.

RIP (Requiescat in Pace)

This phrase is commonly found in funerary inscriptions. It is an expression of respect and wishes of peace for the deceased after death.

A priori

It is an adverbial phrase that is used to refer to reasoning or knowledge prior to observation or direct experience. In philosophy and logic, an argument a priori It is built before any empirical evidence.

Status quo

In the state in which it is located

This expression is used to describe the current situation or state of affairs, especially in political, social or legal contexts.

Homo Homini Lupus (est)

Man is a wolf to man

This phrase, from the comedy Asinaria or The Comedy of Asses, by Plautus, was also used and popularized by the philosopher Thomas Hobbes. It suggests that humans can be aggressive and harmful to each other due to their competitive and selfish nature.

Quid Pro Quo

This phrase is used to indicate a mutually beneficial exchange in which one party offers something in exchange for receiving something of equivalent value. It is common in negotiations and agreements.

Excusatio Non Petita, Accusatio Manifesta

Unsolicited excuse, blatant accusation

This expression suggests that when someone excuses themselves or gives explanations that no one has asked of them, they could be exposing themselves as the author of some infraction or failure. In other words, an unnecessary excuse may seem suspicious.

Sui Generis

This expression is used to describe something unique and that does not fit into any pre-existing category. Generally, it refers to something so special that it cannot be easily classified, something unique in its kind.


From among the books of…

This expression is often found on the personal seals that people put on their books to indicate their ownership. In literal terms, it means that the book comes from the collection of said person or library.

Sapere Aude

This phrase from an epistolary text by the Latin poet Horace, was popularized by the philosopher Immanuel Kant in his essay What is Enlightenment?. It calls for the emancipation of human beings and their independence of thought, for the courage to seek knowledge and truth without fear.

Curriculum vitae

It is an expression originating from Ancient Rome, where it was used to describe the stages and achievements of an individual’s life.

The term has evolved and adapted to describe the structured presentation of a person’s education and work experience. In the modern sphere, it is commonly used to refer to a document that is used in selection and hiring processes, as well as in academic applications.

Tempus Fugit

This expression is a reminder of the transience of life, of how time passes quickly and the importance of taking advantage of the time we have. Coming from Virgil’s Georgics, it became one of the great literary topics of the Renaissance.

Alea Iacta Est

This phrase means that when a decision has been made or action has been taken, there is no turning back. It was uttered by Julius Caesar when crossing the Rubicon River, when he was preparing to cross its geographical limits, disobeying the orders of the Senate and becoming the spark that would unleash Rome’s second civil war.

Modus Operandi

It refers to the characteristic way in which someone performs a task or activity. It is a common expression in the legal and police field to describe the way a criminal operates.

Beatus Ille

This expression celebrates the simple and quiet life in the countryside, far from worldly worries and excessive ambitions. One of the literary topics cultivated during the Renaissance, this expression comes from Horace’s poems that make up his work. Epodes.

Alter ego

It is a common expression in psychology and literature. Generally, it refers to someone with whom we identify or someone in whom we place all our trust. Although it can also refer to a second personality within the same individual.

Mens Sana in Corpore Sano

A healthy mind in a healthy body

It is an expression taken from the Satires of the Latin poet Juvenal. The phrase contains the idea that well-being is achieved through balance between body and mind. Physical health and mental health are closely linked, and both are necessary to achieve a full life.

Love Omnia Vincit

It is a phrase from book X of the Aeneid, by Virgil. Its meaning revolves around the idea that love has such great power that it is capable of overcoming any obstacle, no matter how difficult it may be. Originally, it referred to the love story between Dido and Aeneas, who lived their love story in the midst of adversity.

Cogito ergo sum

This Latin expression is attributed to René Descartes, who is his Discourse of the method reflects on the idea that in the very act of thinking lies one’s existence. If we are thinking, then we must exist as thinking beings. It is one of the fundamental pillars of modern philosophy, of the nature of knowledge and human existence.

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How to cite: Vicente, Eva (08/14/2023). “Popular Phrases and Expressions in Latin (with Meaning and Origin).” In: Meanings.com. Available in: https:///expresiones-en-latin/ Consulted: