I'm trying to write a variation of Ovid's phrase "Omnia mutantur, nihil interit" — "Everything changes, nothing perishes". So far I've came up with "quod mutat, non pereat" — "that which changes, shall not perish".

After translating from several languages the construct "that which [does x]" I get something like "quod x", conforming with phrases like "Non omne quod nitet (shines) aurum est". However when translating it back to English we get "the x" (eg "quod mutat" -> "that/the changes").

So I can't tell whether or not I should worry about this since automatic translation from Latin to English is pretty bad at times plus it seems that quod can be used in many different ways. I believe I've picked the right conjugation for muto but if that is not the case this could be the source of confusion for the translation engines so I'm asking for help to check if my logic follows.

  • 3
    Do not use Google Translator or other automatic translation software for Latin translation. They are all terrible.
    – cmw
    Mar 20, 2021 at 22:35
  • @C.M.Weimer Got it, thanks! May I use the phrase I wrote with peace of mind you think? Mar 20, 2021 at 22:40
  • 3
    What you have now is good, but it translates to: "Let that which changes not perish." It's a little less matter-of-fact than your original English, but it's good Latin still.
    – cmw
    Mar 20, 2021 at 22:48

1 Answer 1


Quod is definitely a correct and idiomatic way to express rules that would be rendered with “that which ⋯” in English. As you have found out, machine translators for Latin are useless. But open any anthology of Latin proverbs and quotations at the letter Q, and you will find examples like:

Quod nocet, docet. (That which hurts, teaches.)
Quod licet Jovi, non licet bovi. (What Jupiter may do, an ox may not do.)
Quod non est in actis, non est in mundo. (What is not on paper [in a court case], is not in the world.)

And even more if you also look for other forms of the relative pronoun:

Qui tacet, consentire videtur. (He who is silent appears to agree.)
Quem di diligunt, adolescens moritur. (Plautus, Bacchides, 4,7,18: He whom the gods love dies young.)

There is also the possibility to say quidquid (whatever, whatsoever), e.g.:

Quidquid sub terra est, in apricum proferet aetas. (Horace Ep. 1; 6, 24: Whatever is underground, time will bring it forth into the sunlight.)
Quidquid latet, apparebit. (Dies Irae echoing the same thought: All that is hidden will come out.)
Quidquid agis, prudenter agas et respice finem. (Whatever you do, act wisely and think of the end.)

Like “whatever” in English, this stresses that the rule applies to any candidate without exceptions.

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