Having some trouble in finding a good equivalent of the English pattern: "too early to say/judge". The most naïve literal translation might be: "id nimis praematurum ad dictum/ut dicatur", or better: "id praematurius quam ut dicatur/aestimetur" but I suspect there are better more idiomatic options. It is tempting to use the supine dictu somehow, but its usage is quite limited and all in it seems not a good fit — or not?

4 Answers 4


I would say:

Nimis cito loqui

This is based on a comment made by Pliny the Younger (Epistulae III, 20):

Sed nimis cito de futuris

But it is too soon [to speak] of what is to come

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    I disagree that the missing word in Pliny is loqui. I would instead say that it's just the finite form loquor/dico (= 'But I'm speaking too soon about what happened only later' = 'But I'm getting ahead of myself'), which is often ellipsed in such cases (cf., e.g., Quid plura?). Such an epexegetic infinitive with nimis cito strikes me as a grecism/poetic, at best – which is not to say that it isn't possible; but I'd want to see some example that includes an explicit infinitive.
    – cnread
    Commented Nov 28, 2021 at 20:42
  • @cnread - Of course I never claimed that loqui was the missing infinitive in Pliny's quote — that was my own addition. However, I thought it was justified considering that Cicero similarly used the combintation sero + the infinitive: "Atque idem ego, cum iam opes omnis et suas et populi Romani Pompeius ad Caesarem detulisset seroque ea sentire coepisset" Commented Nov 28, 2021 at 20:51
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    Surely the infinitive in the Cicero is dependent on coepisset, not sero?
    – cnread
    Commented Nov 28, 2021 at 21:11
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    I would phrase this: Nimis cito loquerer ("I would be speaking too soon," with it understood, "if I were answering your question") Commented Nov 29, 2021 at 22:16

This can be approached with a possessive genitive with an infinitive, a structure that came up in a recent question. Allen and Greenough, in §343.c, give the following example:

Sapientis est pauca loquī
It is wise (the part of a wise man) to say little.
(Not sapiēns [n.] est pauca loquī)

We can take a similar approach to your phrase: It's not too early to say, but it is of a hasty person to say. Based on this idea, I'd suggest:

Festinantis est iudicare.

This strikes me as pithy, clear, and idiomatic. You can of course adjust the tone by choosing different adjectives and verbs. You should consider switching festinans to praeceps, for example. In this use I would slightly prefer iudicare over dicere, but either one works. Or you can turn things around: It is of a patient person not to judge yet.

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    Your suggestion reads to me as a timeless statement, whereas the English idiom is used as an answer to particular questions. Commented Nov 28, 2021 at 18:04
  • @Kingshorsey True, my suggestion is indeed timeless in nature. But I think if I make a formally timeless statement like this in a context, its implications on the present situation are pretty clear. Quoting an old wisdom is not exactly equivalent to a direct comment on a particular matter, but an option worth considering.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Commented Nov 28, 2021 at 18:12

My suggestion is:

praecedant omnia verba/dicta rem/res.

All (any) words [if they were spoken] would anticipate the facts/reality/outcome.

This is inspired by a combination of...

  • [Seneca], Hercules Oetaeus 517:

    'infide vector' inquit, 'immixti licet
    Ganges et Hister vallibus iunctis eant,
    vincemus ambos, consequar telo fugam.'
    praecessit arcus verba; tum longum ferens
    harundo vulnus tenuit haerentem fugam
    mortemque fixit. ...

    'O treacherous ferryman,' he said, 'even if Ganges and Hister should flow in joined riverbeds, I shall overcome both of then and catch up with your flight with my dart.' His bow anticipated his words; then the reed, bearing a wound from afar, checked his flight so that it made no further progress, and implanted death.

  • Caesar, Bellum civile 3.36.1:

    nam plerumque in novitate fama <rem> antecedit.

    For it's generally the case that, in novel situations, rumors outpace facts.

    (Although the rem is an emendation, all editors appear to accept it.)

The problem that I see with this is that the subjunctive is a bit too open to other interpretations (e.g., jussive). A less ambiguous alternative would be something like this:

ne praecedant verba rem/res.

Let not words anticipate the facts/reality/outcome.


How about iam nescimus? I'm also thinking about res praematura est, or working the adverb praemature into the sentence.


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