I'd like to create an aesthetic with the phrase "Remember that you must die, sinners" - targeted at the viewers. I know the first part is memento mori, but what is the best translation of "sinners"? I don't want it to be only used in religion, nor for it to mean something like "defendant".

I found peccatoris and peccatores (what's the difference?) and scelestus, but I'm not sure if these are even correct.

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    peccatoris is genitive singular, peccatores is nominative/accusative/vocative plural. memento mori is more literally the command: "remember to die"
    – OrangeDog
    Commented Mar 15, 2021 at 11:16

2 Answers 2


See: Does "Ego Peccator" mean "I'm Sinner"?

For the plural, it would be peccatores. Scelesti is more "the wicked," which is not the same as peccatores in Christian theology. In Romans 3.23, for example, Paul writes that:

omnes enim peccaverunt
For all have sinned

Scelesti however would be a sinner without redemption, someone who is wicked or deplorable. In 2 Timothy 3.2, they're labeled next to other degenerates:

et erunt homines se ipsos amantes cupidi elati superbi blasphemi parentibus inoboedientes ingrati scelesti
And men will be lovers of themselves, covetous, lofty, proud, blasphemous, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, and wicked.

The other thing is that memento is for a singular subject. For the plural (because you have plural sinners) you want mementote.

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    Also worth noting that the word order is flexible depending on what effect you want to produce: I'd lean toward 'mementote, peccatores, mori' (commas optional) which feels the most dramatic to me.
    – dbmag9
    Commented Mar 15, 2021 at 14:55

CMW already treated the grammatical issues. However, in light of the fact that this question is tagged classical-latin, and that the author is specifically not looking for a purely religious term, I believe it bears pointing out that peccator does not appear to be a classically attested word. It was apparently used by Lactantius (around 250–320) and Tertullian (around 150–220), excellent Latin writers, but not classical and decidedly Christian. And it is of course all over the Vulgate.

A classically attested form would be peccans (plural: peccantes). For example, you have Nepos (Agesilaus 5):

Cum [⋯] ut Corinthum oppugnaret multi hortarentur, negavit id suae virtuti convenire: se enim eum esse dixit, qui ad officium peccantis redire cogeret, non qui urbes nobilissimas expugnaret Graeciae.

When many urged him to attack Corinth, he said that this would not befit his chivalry; he was one, he said, to usher the sinners back on the right path, not to conquer the most famous cities of Greece.

While surely not Christian at all, you can see that the idea of sinners as “people who have strayed from the path of virtue” is present. For a stronger expression of moral outrage, you might want to consider the term nefarius (from nefas, the universal Roman term for all which goes against the laws of gods, men and nature), plural nefarii.

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    Without it being clear from the question, I wouldn't put much weight in a tag from a new person. I know Lewis & Short offer "sinner" in translating peccans, but I think that's fairly anachronistic, and really doesn't fit with Nepos. Maybe in Seneca you can get close to it, but I haven't checked those references.
    – cmw
    Commented Mar 15, 2021 at 23:13
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    (But still good to note that peccator is not properly "Classical.")
    – cmw
    Commented Mar 16, 2021 at 2:06
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    @cmw I guess the English word “sinner” can hardly be disentangled from the Christian context, and so the best Latin counterpart would be similarly entangled (which would be peccator), or else you are liable to end up with an anachronism. Commented Mar 16, 2021 at 8:38
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    That's my thinking, at least. If the OP wanted a Classical Latin reference for some reason (such as writing a story about Cicero), then a whole new set of doors would be open, including nefarii, scelesti, and peccantes.
    – cmw
    Commented Mar 16, 2021 at 15:01

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