Handy Latin Phrases Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

Handy Latin Phrases

528 Conversations

Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum sonatur.

Or 'Whatever is said in Latin sounds profound.'

There are two kinds of Latin speaker. There is the kind who slowly forms an appreciation and understanding of the language, finding the right word to use and learning to conjugate verbs. In advanced stages of learning the language, this results in Latin professorship. The second kind of Latin speaker just memorises lists of quotations, and merely uses them to impress. Given time, they lose track of which quotes correspond to which translation, and eventually end up whispering Aio, quantitas magna frumentorum est! into the ears of hopeful young ladies, instead of something more traditionally romantic. This affliction is easily remedied, generally by placing the offender next to a Latin professor at a dinner party.

However, this guide is for the third kind of Latin speaker. The kind who will say Braccae tuae aperiuntur to spot the fakes. The kind who can make a Latino laugh with a well-placed Te capiam, cunicule sceleste!

The important thing is to always insist that you only know a few handy Latin sayings for everyday use that anyone could pick up. Any more will put you firmly in category two, and you don't want that. More to the point, we don't want that either.

Useful Phrases

So, you've suddenly found that you need to say a few choice words in Latin. Here are the phrases1, with handy English translations.

Nescio quid dicas I don't know what you're talking about
Nemo hic adest illius nominis There is no one here by that name
Ita erat quando hic adveni.It was that way when I got here
Nihil declarandumI have nothing to declare
Raptus regaliterRoyally screwed
Ut si!As if!
Vescere bracis meis Eat my shorts
Re vera, potas beneSay, you sure are drinking a lot
Noli me vocare. Ego te vocabo.Don't call me. I'll call you.
Nihil curo de ista tua stulta superstitioneI'm not interested in your dopey religious cult
Canis meus id comeditMy dog ate it
Die dulci freureHave a nice day
Fac ut vivasGet a life
Fac me cocleario vomere!Gag me with a spoon!
Recedite, plebes! Gero rem imperialem Stand aside, little people! I am here on official business
Catapultam habeo. Nisi pecuniam omnem mihi dabris, ad caput tuum saxum immane mittam.I have a catapult. Unless you give me all of your money, I will fling an enormous rock at your head.
Utinam barbari spatioum proprium tuum invadantMay barbarians invade your personal space
Quo signo nata es?What's your sign?
Romani quidem artem amatoriam invenerunt...You know, the Romans invented the art of love...
Te audire no possum. Musa sapientum fixa est in aure.I can't hear you. I have a banana in my ear.
Utinam coniurati te in foro interficiantMay conspirators assasinate you in the hall
Magister mundi sum!I am the master of the universe!
Non sum piscesI am not a fish
Radix lectiCouch potato
Quantum materiae materietur marmota monax si marmota monax materiam possit materiari?How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
Unitam logica falsa tuam philosophiam totam suffodiantMay faulty logic undermine your entire philosophy
Cogito ergo sumI think, therefore I am
Cogito ergo doleoI think, therefore I am depressed
Senito aliquos togatos contra me conspirareI think some people in togas are plotting against me
Vah! Denuone latine loquebar? Me ineptum. Interdum modo elabitur. Oh! Was I speaking Latin again? Silly me. Sometimes it just sort of slips out.
Nihili est - in vita priore ego imperator romanus fui That's nothing; in a previous life I was a Roman Emperor
Aio, quantitas magna frumentorum est Yes, that is a very large amount of corn
Perscriptio in manibus tabellariorum est The cheque is in the post
Non illigitamus carborundum Don't let the b'stards grind you down
Nonne macescis? Have you lost weight?
Minime senuisti! You haven't aged a bit!
Id tibi praebet speciem lepidissimam! It looks great on you!
Capillamentum? Haudquaquam conieci esse! A wig? I never would have guessed!
Braccae tuae aperiuntur Your fly is open
Subucula tua apparet Your slip is showing
In dentibus anticis frustum magnum spiniciae habes You have a big piece of spinach in your front teeth
Abutebaris modo subjunctivo You've been misusing the subjunctive
Heus, hic nos omnes in agmine sunt! Hey, we're all in line here!
Non, mihi ignosce, credo me insequentem esse No, excuse me, I believe I'm next
Nonne de novo eboraco venis? You're from New York, aren't you?

Bumper Stickers and Vanity Plates

Sona si latine loqueris Honk if you speak Latin
Balaenae nobis conservandae sunt Save the whales
Frena pro feris teneo I brake for animals
Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscripti catapultas habebunt When catapults are outlawed, only outlaws will have catapults
Sic hoc adfixum in obice legere potes, et liberaliter educatus et nimis propinquus ades If you can read this bumper sticker, you are both very well educated, and much too close
Incitatus Speed demon
Vagans Cruising
Litoralis Beach bum
Mannus Mustang
Fractum Jalopy

Advanced Quotations

The following phrases are for those who can speak Latin while at the same time maintaining a cheesy accent. This is harder than you think. Despite all your best intentions to do a perfect rendition of Clint Eastwood from the film Dirty Harry, celebrity Latin accents invariably transform into something more akin to Manuel from Fawlty Towers.

Quid agis, medice? What's up, Doc?
Dic mihi solum facta, domina Just the facts, ma'am
Re vera, cara mea, mea nil refert Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn
Farrago fatigans! Thuffering thuccotash!
Fac ut gaudeam Make my day
Illius me paenitet, dux Sorry about that, chief
Tuis pugis pignore! You bet your bippy!
Diabolus fecit, ut id facerem! The devil made me do it!
Osculare pultem meam! Kiss my grits!
Credidi me felem vidisse! I tought I taw a puddy tat!
Si fallatis officium, quaestor infitias eat se quicquam scire de factis vestris If you fail, the secretary will disavow all knowledge of your activities
Te capiam, cunicule sceleste! I'll get you, you wascally wabbit!
Conlige suspectos semper habitos Round up the usual suspects
Certe, toto, sentio nos in kansate non iam adesse You know, Toto, I have a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore
Me transmitte sursum, caledoni Beam me up, Scotty

Names and Titles

Translations of the names of some famous bands and television shows.

Cimictus The Beatles
Inlecebrae The Temptations
Lapides provolventesThe Rolling Stones
Ille quisThe Who
Mortui gratiThe Grateful Dead
Simitatores The Monkees
Pueri litorisThe Beach Boys
Illi silicesThe Flintstones
Insula gilliganisGilligan's Island
Zona crepusculiThe Twilight Zone
Opus: quod fiere non potestMission: Impossible
Dies felicesHappy Days
Navis amorisThe Love Boat
Iuvenes inquietesqueThe Young and the Restless
Pretium iustum estThe Price is Right
1Some of these phrases can be found in the excellent work Latin for Everyday Occasions: Lingua Latina Omnibus by Henry Beard.

Bookmark on your Personal Space

Edited Entry


Infinite Improbability Drive

Infinite Improbability Drive

Read a random Edited Entry

Categorised In:

Edited by

h2g2 Editors

Write an Entry

"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a wholly remarkable book. It has been compiled and recompiled many times and under many different editorships. It contains contributions from countless numbers of travellers and researchers."

Write an entry
Read more