Anyone who's ever worked on a project where Kafka-esque bureaucracy/red tape threatens to derail progress before one's even begun will be familiar with the following phrase...

"It is better to ask for forgiveness than permission"

...because sometimes it's the only way to get anything done (within reason and the law, naturally).

I'm working on a project just like this at the moment and find myself saying this - discreetly - to my colleagues all the time. It would be a lot easier if I had a latin phrase to use instead (I may even get some commemorative items printed up for the team if we ever get through it).

Perhaps it might be better - but I'm certainly no expert - to say something like:

"Forgiveness, not permission"

But I'm happy for you all to discuss that.

One final thought - in this case accuracy is perhaps less important than beauty/poetry - for it to work it needs to be something that people can and will actually say. Hope that's not too prescriptive?

Really looking forward to seeing what's possible and thanks in advance for any contributions.

  • Welcome to the site and thanks for making your first post! :)
    – Adam
    Mar 25, 2021 at 13:47

1 Answer 1


How about remissionem, non permissionem (quaerere)?

Or, since venia can mean both permission and forgiveness, post nec ante factum veniam (quaerere)?

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