I'm making a graphic for a client and they're asking for a quote translated from English to Latin. The quote is, "Through endurance we conquer."

I know google translate is not the way to go. Can you help with the most accurate translation?



2 Answers 2


The Schakleton family motto is "fortitudine vincimus." This translates as by means of strenth/courage/fortitude/endurance, we conquer, or, in better english, though endurance, we conquer.

A quick grammatical explanation of this. Fortitudine is the ablative of the noun fortitūdo (strength, force, bravery, courage, endurance, manliness, etc.). The use of the ablative here is ablative of means, which describes how something was done and is translated literally as by means of, thus by means of endurance or with/though endurance. Vincimus is the first person, plural, present, active, indicative form of the verb vinco -- which means to conquer, to be victorious, etc. -- and it would translate as we conquer.

Hope this helps.


This is a simple declarative sentence. Let's take it by parts.

  • "we conquer": [vincimus]. Romans talked a lot about conquering; there are other options available, but by far the most common Latin term, and the one with the greatest historical resonance, is vincō (vincere, vīcī, victum), "I win; I conquer; I defeat; I vanquish." It is applicable in military contexts, in any form of competitive conflict, or in many metaphorical contexts for striving or overcoming against difficulty. (It's the verb for "I conquered" in Caesar's Vēnī, vīdī, vīcī; also directly related to the roots of many other terms like victor, victory, etc.)

    You want to say "we conquer," indicating an ongoing or (at least aspirationally!) typical activity. So you'd want the present active indicative of the verb, conjugated in the 1st person plural (we). That would be vincimus.

    (You could explicitly indicate the subject of the verb using a personal pronoun, in which case you would say nōs vincimus. But the pronoun isn't required in Classical Latin, and in most contexts -- especially in mottos, which heavily favor concision -- it really would sound kind of weird.)

  • "through endurance": [cōnstantiā / fortitūdine] Translating this kind of prepositional phrase from one language to another can often be tricky, but fortunately Classical Latin has a very commonly used construction that covers this case more or less perfectly, the ablative of means or the instrumental ablative. In Latin sentences you can put a noun into the ablative case in order to indicate by what or through what an activity is carried out; here, we conquer -- how? -- by (having and exhibiting the quality of) endurance.

    There's a bit of a difficulty here about word choice. Mod. English "endurance" comes from (etymologically straightforward) Latin roots, indūrō (to harden, to make or become hard). You could form an abstract noun from this verb or from the participle in order to come up with a noun for "endurance" following familiar patterns, for example *indurantia or *induritas. But to my knowledge neither of these terms is attested in classical Latin. In classical Latin literature, words related to durus (hard) and induro do have a connection with toughness or with firmness of character or attitude in the face of opposition, but on the whole attested words for the quality, like duritas seem to suggest severity or harshness more than they suggest what the English term tends to suggest, i.e. tenacity in the face of difficulty. ("Well, what about tenacity?" you might ask? "That has Latin roots too." Indeed, it comes from Lat. tenācitas, but that also has shifted in its association over time -- in classical Latin it typically suggests something more like graspingness or parsimony with money, and is not generally used to indicate an admirable trait.)

    You might have better luck with constantia, literally "constancy" or the quality of "standing together." This is frequently used in classical Latin literature to indicate admired qualities of character or performance, encompassing (among other things) steadfastness, perseverance, self-possession, or firmness of character. It derives from the verb cōnstō, which has strong associations with both political support (against opposition) and military endurance (i.e. for a legion to stand firm together against an enemy, rather than breaking under the attack). If you choose to use this noun to express endurance, you'd decline it into the ablative singular, so you'd have cōnstantiā.

    Alternatively, you might use firmitās, -ātis. This is nearly synonymous with constantia and the two are often paired with each other in Latin rhetoric; in this case the term derives from firmus. This perhaps gives a greater suggestion of a static quality of unchangingness, rather than a more dynamic matter of holding-up under challenge; but any difference is going to be a very close matter of shades of suggestion here. In the ablative singular, this would be firmitāte.

    Another very strong option is fortitūdō, -inis, already suggested in the answer above by @Vtex. This is the Latin term that was used in the Shackleton family motto, and the source for the name of the Endurance, so if that's related to the reason you're aiming to translate the phrase, this is already a standard translation for it. fortitūdō derives from the adjective fortis and its primary meaning is something like "strength; might." It is also widely used in Latin to refer to bravery, valor, endurance in the face of opposition or danger (quite similar to the mod. English associations of "fortitude" as focusing on strength to persist or succeed in the face of adversity). In this case, you'd want fortitūdine.

  • Putting it together. Word order in Latin sentences is very flexible. You can put the verb first or the noun first here without any difference in meaning. Mottos often place the verb last for rhetorical purposes, so that might be a reason to favor the later options in this list over the former, but all of the following should accurately convey the meaning regardless of word order. Also, note that I have kept macrons in to indicate long vowels (like ū or ō); however, this is a scholarly convention, and you will not damage the meaning of the phrases if you use ordinary vowels without the macron mark over them.

    • vincimus fortitūdine (we conquer by means of fortitude/endurance)
    • vincimus firmitāte (we conquer by means of firmness/endurance)
    • vincimus cōnstantiā (we conquer by means of constancy/standing fast/endurance)
    • fortitūdine vincimus (by means of fortitude/endurance, we conquer)
    • firmitāte vincimus (by means of firmness/endurance, we conquer)
    • cōnstantiā vincimus (by means of constancy/standing fast/endurance, we conquer)

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