I am translating the phrase the world has lost its way into Latin. I currently have the following:

Mundus modum suum amittit

Or as an alternative:

Mundus conversationem suum amittit

I'm very open to alternatives (and corrections, of course :) )! I am trying to stick to words that I think non-Latin speakers will recognize. I also prefer the first option for the alliteration, although I'm not sure that modus can mean way in the sense that it does in English.

  • Would mos/mores sound too alien to your target audience?
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Commented Dec 8, 2020 at 16:59
  • I don't think so, since they'll see it as the english plural mores. As long as the meaning is the same or close it would work well.
    – Adam
    Commented Dec 8, 2020 at 19:20
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    Many famous Latin writings by ancient Romans lamented that the world has lost its way, as well as by later Christian writers. One of them, many of them, must have said exactly this. The only one I can think of is Cicero's O tempora! O mores! as in Vincenzo Oliva's answer. There must be more.
    – Ben Kovitz
    Commented Dec 9, 2020 at 15:43

2 Answers 2


I would translate "way" with mores. It is not "way" in the sense of a path but in the sense of traditional ways. I interpret that you want to say, roughly, that the world has given up its traditions.

My suggestion for a losing verb in this context is perdere. Your choice amittere means throwing away, which is also possible if the world has lost its way willfully. If you want something easily understood by someone who knows English, perhaps the best choice is omittere, meaning things like "let go, neglect, dismiss, disregard, omit".

Mundus is a good choice for the world. You can always use the suum if you want, but it can also be understood implicitly. In this case there is little room for ambiguity, so I would consider it somewhat more idiomatic to leave the reflexive possessive pronoun out.

So how about mundus mores omittit?

Or if you want to fit it into hexameter with a similar Roman sentiment: Tempora mutantur, sibi mores mundus omittit. Or with a slight variation, closer to the original: Tempora mutantur mores et mundus omittit. Postponing et by ine word from the expected position is a feature of the original verse too.


Going along the lines of Joonas' suggestion, one might just imitate Cicero and leave implicit the loss of the mores:

O mundum, o mores!

I had gone for the vocative munde, but as suggested by Ben Kovitz in the comments, the nominative and accusative might be better suited. Indeed, the vocative works if one wants to personify the World, but since the mores are not as easily personifiable - they might be individually but not as a whole - it wouldn't feel right.

I opted for mundum as an accusative of exclamation.

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    Are you sure about putting mundus into the vocative case? I'm thinking that this lamentation calls for O with the nominative—or is it the accusative?
    – Ben Kovitz
    Commented Dec 9, 2020 at 15:45
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    @BenKovitz: Oh that's a very good point, they do seem to work! I have found a precedent for the use of the vocative here: o munde immunde, fallax et proditor... Commented Dec 9, 2020 at 18:56
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    ... where indeed the World is personified (e.g. cf. cuncta bona promittis), so I guess the choice of case depends on the desired nuance. I did go for the accusative though, see my edit. Commented Dec 9, 2020 at 18:57
  • Just a note, it's not so much personification that matters, but address. In o mundum, you're exclaiming about the world, not directly addressing it. Accusative is indeed best here.
    – cmw
    Commented Sep 21, 2021 at 15:37

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