I’d like it to have the acronym "ET"

Would it be better for it to be:

excelsior terra


excelsior tellus

I’m sure that there are better ways to express this though I have always liked the word excelsior and I like the feminine aspect of tellus.

  • 2
    It would be helpful if you could specify what the words are supposed to mean. Both phrases are perfectly legal Latin but make little sense as the name of a government agency. Excelsior terra literally means “higher ground.” Commented May 21, 2020 at 20:49

1 Answer 1


Although the word terra is the usual way of speaking of the Earth, some form of tellūs is also a possibility. The latter is used in this sense most commonly in poetry. According to the lexicon of Lewis and Short, it is defined as:

tellus — the earth, opp. to the other planets or to the sea, the globe (a word belonging almost entirely to poetry).

My first impression was that you were trying to express "of the Earth", in which case the genitive form would be used. However, the word excelsior is a comparative adjective which suggests the comparison "Higher than the Earth". In that case the ablative should be used. In order to make it clear that excelsior doesn't describe terra (in which case it would mean higher ground), it might be better to use the plural form of excelsior:

Excelsiōrēs Terrā

Using the ablative form of tellūs:

Excelsiōrēs Tellūre

If, on the other hand, you did want to use the genitive ("...of the Earth"), it would be:

Excelsiōrēs Terrae

Using the genitive form of tellūs:

Excelsiōrēs Tellūris

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    What would it mean though? I'd translate it as something like "loftier of Earth" which doesn't make very much sense to me.
    – Jasper May
    Commented May 21, 2020 at 14:50
  • @JasperMay. I think it would sound better with articles, such as "the nobler of the Earth" — kind of like "the upper crust". Commented May 21, 2020 at 15:15
  • I guess pars or gens could be understood, if the OP insists on the word form 'excelsior'. But maybe 'excelsiores' would make it more immediately obvious that it's referring to a group of people. Or what about 'Excelsiùs Terrâ' (higher than the Earth), an adverbial phrase like 'per ardua ad astra'.
    – Jasper May
    Commented May 21, 2020 at 16:17
  • @JasperMay. Excelsior was chosen as the motto for the state of New York, so I don't know why there would be a problem with keeping it in the singular. However, I think you might be right that the ablative would be a better choice. Commented May 21, 2020 at 20:18
  • Ok, you may be right about Excelsior. I do prefer the ablative.
    – Jasper May
    Commented May 21, 2020 at 20:28

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