I'm trying to translate "Best Man - True Friend - Bad Influence" into Latin for a gift inscription for (unsurprisingly) my best man.
So far I've got to "Optimum Vir - Verum Amicus - Malum Auctoritas." using online translators but I'm not sure how good it actually is in terms of word order and nomination (declension?) etc.
I have a sensation that something like "Virum Optimum - Amicus Verum - Auctoritas Malum" feels 'better'. As you can probably tell, I haven't studied Latin, but the best man has!
Is one of these options correct or is there a better translation? Thanks.

  • 2
    Welcome to the site! Online translators are very unreliable. I suggest using an online dictionary (see a list here) to find the most suitable Latin words. Check the dictionary entries for optimus, vir, verus, amicus, malus, auctoritas and see if they match your intentions. If not, try to find other words. We can help combining those words for you. Are you happy with those words you have chosen? Also, beware that combining the words "best" and "man" in Latin probably won't give a translation of "best man" (person in a wedding).
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Commented Jul 20, 2016 at 11:39
  • You should check the comments on my answer—there's a grammatical subtlety (not so subtle) I missed that means the words should be spelled slightly differently. Commented Jul 21, 2016 at 0:58

1 Answer 1


Welcome to the site!

Given Joonas Ilmavirta's point that the word for "best" and the word for "man" together won't end up meaning "best man"—or, rather, that they'll end up meaning "the man who is best" rather than "groom's attendant at a wedding," I'm going to suggest the following:

Pronubus — Amicus — Corruptor

This translates, more or less, as "Wedding attendant, friend, seducer," with the sense that the seduction can be into any vice, not just sexual. There are actually lots of Latin words for "seducer" in that sense, but corruptor has the advantage of being pretty recognizable by people who don't speak Latin.

As TKR points out in his comment below, if this is to be inscribed on a gift, then the words would be in the dative case, indicating that the gift is going to another person. The words as modified would read

Pronubo — Amico — Corruptori

(Latin tends to use fewer words where English uses more, which is why I'm opting for single words instead of nouns modified by adjectives. You could do it with two words for each term, and it would be grammatically correct, but it wouldn't feel very Latinate.)

However, if you definitely want to use the words you've chosen (including what you suggest in your comment below) the correct way to do so (using the dative case) would probably be

Pronubo Primo — Amico Vero — Auctoritati Malae.

Auctoritati malae is "to the evil authority." If you want "to the authority of evil" it would be mali auctoritati.

Best wishes on (what I assume are) your upcoming nuptials! Or, as we might say in Latin, Omnia vobis bona fausta felicia fortunataque!

  • Good suggestion! I guess you have effectively given an answer to my follow-up question, too.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Commented Jul 20, 2016 at 12:41
  • Thanks - both for the answer and the felicitations. Whilst I appreciate the translation into 'more correct' latin, it feels like it's lost some of my originally intended meaning with the word pair phrasing - <edited to add> "The man who is [next] best, a true friend (rather than a generic friend) and a significantly bad influence - G translate (swearing in these parts, I know) suggested translation of "Authority of evil" seems closer to the guy in question than "Seducer into vice"
    – Alan S
    Commented Jul 20, 2016 at 13:06
  • Could it possibly be expressed as "Pronubus Prima" to indicate his primacy amongst the groomsmen?
    – Alan S
    Commented Jul 20, 2016 at 13:18
  • @joonas-Ilmavirta expanding on my previous comment, a colleague has suggested "praefectum prōnŭbus" for the best man as 'Commander of the Wedding-Attendants' - obviously it moves away from the one-word approach but seems to provide my desired emphasis, assuming appropriate tensing and phrasing etc.
    – Alan S
    Commented Jul 20, 2016 at 14:22
  • 2
    Good suggestions in this answer. To complicate matters further, though: if this is a gift inscription, you probably want to put these words in the dative case. This is the form that means "to / for..." and is what you would usually use in a gift inscription. The forms in the answer are nominatives, which is the form used for the subject of a sentence; if this is to be the complete text of the inscription, then that's not grammatically appropriate here. Dative versions: "Pronubo, amico, corruptori"; "Pronubo primo, amico vero, auctoritati malae". (Personally I'd go for the single-word version.)
    – TKR
    Commented Jul 20, 2016 at 23:25

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