Share on Facebook

18 Latin Phrases That Will Make You Sound Smarter

After all, omnia dicta fortiora si dicta Latina.

Nicole Fornabaio/rd.com

Audentes fortuna iuvat

Did you know that “fortune favors the bold” actually started as one of Virgil’s Latin phrases in Aeneid? Roman commander Pliny the Elder even allegedly chose the quote as his final words when he set off to try saving Pompeii citizens from the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius.

Nicole Fornabaio/rd.com

Festina lente

Hurry slowly” sounds like an oxymoron, but it’s good advice. Repeat it when you want to move forward as quickly as possible but without getting reckless. While boosting your vocabulary, quit saying these 26 words and phrases that make you sound stupid.

Nicole Fornabaio/rd.com

Bibo ergo sum

A cheeky play off Descartes’s philosophy, this belongs above your wine rack: “I drink, therefore I am.”

Nicole Fornabaio/rd.com

Damnant quod non intellegunt

When you’re taking risks, you’re bound to run into some naysayers. Haters gonna hate, so brush it off with this reminder that “they condemn what they do not understand.”

Nicole Fornabaio/rd.com

Memento vivere

When you’re sick of YOLO and carpe diem, psych yourself up with a new Latin phrase: Remember to live. Memento vivere is the flip side of Memento mori (“remember you must die”), which is a reminder that life is fragile. You probably know English’s Latin roots, but did you know these 15 common words were inspired by real-life people?

Nicole Fornabaio/rd.com

Cedere nescio

When you need a burst of motivation, cedere nescio should be one of your go-to Latin phrases. Tempted to give up when your goals are having a slow start? Don’t give up yet! Repeat to yourself, “I know not how to yield.”

Nicole Fornabaio/rd.com

In cauda venenum

Poison in the tail” literally refers to a scorpion’s sting, but it’s a metaphor for something more. If someone starts to let you down gently and then ends with a slap-in-the-face conclusion, incauda venenum would apply.

Nicole Fornabaio/rd.com

Fons vitae caritas

Remember what’s most important in the big picture—in this case, “love is the fountain of life.”

Nicole Fornabaio/rd.com

Acta non verba

The United States Merchant Marine Academy chose this as its motto for a reason. Focusing on “deeds, not words” is a reminder that actions speak louder than words. Turn words into action by trying these 11 ways to improve your vocabulary in just one day.

Nicole Fornabaio/rd.com

Praesis ut prosis ne ut imperes

When you need to keep your ego in check, remind yourself not to get power-hungry. As the Latin phrase goes, “Lead to serve, not to command.”

Nicole Fornabaio/rd.com

Absit iniuria

Meaning “let injury be absent,” this is the Latin equivalent to starting a sentence with “no offense.” Hopefully, the listener is too impressed with your language skills to translate the rest of your sentence as rude.

Nicole Fornabaio/rd.com

Abundans cautela non nocet

Translated literally to “abundant caution does no harm,” abundans cautela non nocet is a Latin phrase you can slip in when saying, “you can’t be too careful.” Memorize these Spanish phrases everyone in the world should know how to use.

Nicole Fornabaio/rd.com

Ab uno disce omnes

If time is the best teacher, Virgil’s advice speeds it up: “From one, learn all.” Basically, one example can reveal a bigger truth. Someone just breached your trust in a big way? Ab uno disce omnes.

Nicole Fornabaio/rd.com

Barba tenus sapientes

We all know that one know-it-all who acts smarter than they are. As you roll your eyes, whip out a Latin phrase that will stop them in their tracks: Barba tenus sapientes. Roughly translated to “wise as far as the beard,” it was the Latin way of saying that just because you have the long beard of a philosopher doesn’t mean you have the smarts. Avoid looking dumb yourself by learning the 20 words even smart people mispronounce.

Nicole Fornabaio/rd.com

Dixi

Consider this the mic drop after you’re done making your point. Ending with dixi is another way of saying “I have spoken.”

Nicole Fornabaio/rd.com

Ira furor brevis est

Latin phrases like this just might save your relationship from your next big blowup. Next time you’re fuming, take a breath and remember, “Wrath is a brief madness.”

Nicole Fornabaio/rd.com

Maiora premunt

Keep your eyes on the prize. When “greater things are pressing,” ignore the less important issues and focus on the big-deal problems.

Nicole Fornabaio/rd.com

Omnia dicta fortiora si dicta Latina

If anyone calls you out for sprinkling pretentious Latin phrases in everyday speech, you’ve got your comeback ready: “Everything said is stronger if said in Latin.” Who could argue with that? Learn about 17 English words that mean something else in other languages.