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I want to know the Latin for the phrase “public business must be done in public”.

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  • Welcome to the site! Can you give an example of the kind of public business you have in mind, just so that we can make sure that a suggested translation actually works for you? There rarely is a Latin phrase that means exactly the same as the English one in all contexts.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Commented Oct 26, 2019 at 14:52

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I agree with GDR. What you need is "res publica" in its original sense of "public business". In the spirit of Roman conciseness perhaps better: Res publica publice agenda.

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A good general word for business is res, so "public business" could well be translated as res publica. But bear in mind that it also means "republic" (which is indeed a public business but in a very specific sense), so there is a risk of misinterpretation. Perhaps something like negotium could also work for "business", but that depends on context. Even in simple things like this, context does matter.

A good translation for "must be done" is agendum est, where est can be dropped and agendum must be declined to match gender and number.

There are a couple of ways to translate "in public". My suggestion is palam, which has translations like "openly, publicly, undisguisedly, plainly". At least to me it gives an idea of openness that goes beyond being technically public. But it is certainly not the only option, as you can see in the other suggestions.

So, my suggestion is:

Res publica palam agenda est.

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Coram is a good word to use; it's classy.

cōram, adv. and prep. (Lewis and Short)
I. in the presence of, before the eyes of, in the face of, before.

coram populo, Hor. A. P. 185 "in the presence of the people."
coram judicibus, Suet. Aug. 56 "before the judges"

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    This meaning degraded over time, so that in the Middle Ages a suit heard coram rege meant it was heard in the Court of the King's Bench but not literally in the king's presence. Having studied Latin long before I studied English history, I found that very confusing.
    – C Monsour
    Commented Oct 29, 2019 at 13:13

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