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TL;DR Would "always victorious" be semper vicit? That's my naive translation. Context is God Save the Queen.

Details:

Apparently my entire life I've been singing a line in the first verse of God Save the Queen wrong. The line is "Send her victorious" but I somehow thought from a young age it was "Semper victorious" and no one's noticed as it sounds quite similar. (Lucky for me I realized my mistake before Charles acceded to the throne — people would have looked at me funny.)

Out of the blue many, many years later I thought to ask myself whether "victorious" sounded right for Latin, and of course, it doesn't. Various online sources give me vicit.

Would it be semper vicit? (Google Translate says "vicit semper," [with the comma] but is notoriously rubbish at Latin.) Latin has so many morphological changes depending on parts of speech and the subject of the sentence, etc., that I'm not sure if vicit should have a slightly different form. It's an indirect reference to Her Majesty, but as an adjective ("[she is] always victorious"), so I wouldn't think victrix would be relevant (being a noun if I'm not mistaken).

Context:

God save our gracious Queen
Long live our noble Queen
God save the Queen
Send her victorious, <=== The line I got wrong
Happy and glorious,
Long to reign over us
God save the Queen!

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    I am so pleased to have found this post… I too have always sung “semper victorious”, it was only last weekend that someone called it out as they explained the changes being made to the National Anthem; “‘send her victorious’ will need to change”. Given that I mis-learned the lyrics before learning any Latin, I wonder how we both settled on this version? Commented Sep 19, 2022 at 11:15
  • @AlistairBlackmore - I'm glad I'm not the only one. :-) Commented Sep 20, 2022 at 6:26

1 Answer 1

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"Semper vicit" means "he/she has always won/conquered" (with a perfective rather than a habitual aspect). "Vicit" is the 3rd person active indicative perfect of vincere, a verb.

"Victorious", the adjective, is victoriosus. In the feminine (nominative singular), that's victoriosa.

Your phrase can be translated as semper victoriosa (with an elided implied est, I suppose, which is also elided in the English). For Charles it'd be semper victoriosus.

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  • Re vicit: oh, of course! The same form as in tempus fugit, one of my father's favourite sayings. Maybe that saying was part of why I didn't think vicit was correct. Thank you! Commented Nov 27, 2020 at 13:28
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    @T.J.Crowder In "tempus fugit" the "fugit" is actually in the present tense, though the only difference between present and perfect in that case is whether the u is short or long. There we know it's short because it scans as short in Vergil's Georgica, though, from which the saying in taken.
    – Cairnarvon
    Commented Nov 27, 2020 at 13:35
  • That makes more sense. I was slightly struggling with how it could be "has always passed" without the habitual aspect. Answer: Because it isn't. :-) Really appreciate your thorough answer to such a basic question. Commented Nov 27, 2020 at 13:37
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    Correct as usual Cairnarvon. Let me also suggest semper victrix and semper victor as possible alternatives.
    – Figulus
    Commented Sep 19, 2022 at 21:23
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    Victoriosa_/_victoriosus sounds awkward, because I find very few instances in classical literature. I think @Figulus is right suggesting semper victrix (feminine) / semper victor (masculine) (no matter victrix_/_victor may be used as nouns: they are used as adjectives here). Vicit semper may also be right, but sounds less poetical.
    – Rananecax
    Commented Sep 20, 2022 at 13:03

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