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This came up recently and as far as I understand it, supera is correct, not supra. Partly because supera has the dual meaning of above (preposition) and space, or celestial (neutral noun).

Supra on the other hand is just an adjective without a subject.

Thoughts? if you have a really good citation or explanation that would be very helpful as a one time google translated motto that is accepted has far more weight then a grammatical argument without a good source citation apparently.

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You are apparently referring to the United States Space Force. Its official motto is "Semper supra," which is claimed, by the USSF itself, to mean "Always above," and that is indeed a sensible translation.

  • Supra is not an adjective, it is an adverb meaning "on top, above, beyond." It also functions as a preposition taking the accusative, but that is not really applicable here.

  • Superus, on the other hand, is an adjective meaning "upper," although supera doubles as a variant of supra. The idea of a wordplay with the neutral plural supera, -orum (= upper regions, heights) standing in for space is indeed compelling. As Joonas commented, it has another interpretation fitting for a military unit: Since supera is the imperative of superare, it also means "Always be victorious" (as a command). But evidently the U.S. military did not think of, or decided not to go with that idea.

Even if it may sound a little strange in English, it is not unheard of to use supra absolutely in Latin. Example: supra, non infra est deus - "God is above, not below."

Other service branches have similar mottoes but tend to use adjectives: Semper paratus (U.S. Coast Guard: always prepared), Semper fortis (U.S. Navy: always brave), Semper fidelis (U.S. Marines: always loyal). The modified noun, although not explicitly mentioned, may in each case be assumed to be the service branch itself.

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    There's also the verb superare. Do you want to comment on its imperative as an option? – Joonas Ilmavirta Aug 6 '20 at 16:59
  • "The idea of a wordplay with the neutral plural supera, -orum (= upper regions, heights) standing in for space is indeed compelling, but evidently the U.S. military did not think of, or decided not to go with that idea." let's just say is possible did not decide to go with one over another... (google translate may have made the decision for them) – user2158094 Aug 6 '20 at 17:32
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    @JoonasIlmavirta Indeed, I have mentioned it also. – Sebastian Koppehel Aug 7 '20 at 6:54
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    @user2158094 Let's just say the U.S. military has been coming up with Latin slogans since long before Google Translate existed. In any event, as far as I can see their slogan is fine and means what they say it means. That you or I might have a better idea doesn't make theirs wrong. – Sebastian Koppehel Aug 7 '20 at 6:57

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