Latin is a ‘dead’ language (one no longer spoken or written by a living population as a language of primary social communication). It offers, though, many idiomatic expressions that are uniquely and usefully expressive.
Most people are aware of four things about the Latin language. 1) That is was the spoken language of ancient Rome, 2) That it is the source from which all of the other “Romance” languages are derived, 3) That it is no longer spoken as a living language in any culture and that 4) Certain professions, most notably Medicine and Law are peppered with Latin expressions.
Some of those expressions have worked their way into common English usage over the years. Phrases like, Caveat emptor (“Let the buyer beware,”) Carpe diem (“Seize the day!,”) and Modus operandi (“Method of operation”) are among those in common modern English usage.
There are, however, many more which might further enrich both our language and our ability to express ourselves with the ambience of precisely what is intended.
As these expressions are primarily colloquialisms (imprecise linguistic accommodations that had become part of common usage – idioms, as it were) the translations are approximate and not literal. It is unlikely that Cicero, the famous Roman writer and orator would never have used any of them – in public!
Here are two dozen of my favorites (plus one for good luck) gathered in a recreational web search from several websites, each of which have been listed as sources.
Conlige suspectos semper habitos (“Round up the usual suspects”)
Mors ultima linea rerum est (“Death is everything’s final limit”)
Re vera, potas bene (“Say, you sure are drinking a lot”)
Vescere bracis meis (“Eat my shorts”)
Fronti nulla fides (“No reliance can be placed on appearance”)
Omnia mutantur, nos et mutamur in illis (“All things are changing, and we are changing with them”)
Res melius evinissent cum Coca (“Things go better with Coke”)
Tempus amoris cubiculum non est… (“The time for love is not in the bedroom…”)
Trahimur omnes studio laudis (“We are all attracted by the desire for praise.”)
Qui tacet consentit (“He who is silent agrees”)
Maxima debetur puero reverentia (‘We owe the greatest respect to a child”)
Vacca foeda (“Stupid cow”)
Die dulci fruere (“Have a nice day”)
Mihi ignosce. Cum homine de cane debeo congredi (“Excuse me. I’ve got to see a man about a dog”)
Noli me vocare, ego te vocabo (“Don’t call me, I’ll call you”)
Non curo. Si metrum non habet, non est poema (“I don’t care. If it doesn’t rhyme, it isn’t a poem”)
Utinam barbari spatium proprium tuum invadant! (“May barbarians invade your personal space!”)
Ventis secundis, tene cursum (“Go with the flow”)
Sic faciunt omnes (“Everyone is doing it”)
Pessimum genus inimicorum laudantes (“Flatterers are the worst type of enemies”
Tu quoque (“You too”)
Captantes capti sumus (“We catchers have been caught”)
Corripe Cervisiam (“Seize the beer!”)
Te precor dulcissime supplex! (“Pretty please with a cherry on top!”)
And finally, in honor of the late John Lennon,
#25: Vita est quod accidit dum in aliis consiliis occupatus es (“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans”)
And who said that Latin was boring??!