I would like to know the meaning of the following Latin expression, as well as a grammatical analysis of the individual words in this context:


as it appears in the following logo of a lion with a "wreath" with the script on it for the company MGM (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer):

MGM Logo

As mentioned in a comment, below, Wikipedia states that ARS GRATIA ARTIS stands for "Art for Art's Sake", but it does not explain what each of the three words mean, their declension, and any other grammar details. Can someone please provide this in an answer?

  • 3
    It's explained on wikipedia: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Art_for_art%27s_sake
    – Luc
    Commented Oct 26, 2016 at 9:03
  • 1
    Can you please provide a word per word translation in an answer. I have no clue about Latin declensions. Thanks. Commented Oct 26, 2016 at 9:07
  • Please try by yourself! You can use collatinus: copy paste your text in the section Traiter un texte latin, choose the langue cible and click on Analyser.
    – Luc
    Commented Oct 26, 2016 at 9:59
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    @JackMaddington Try with the English version of the website: outils.biblissima.fr/en/collatinus-web/index.php ? (Sorry I gave you the French version). The text is displayed below the boxes. --- --- By the way, I give you an hand: ars and artis are the same noun. Gratia followed by the gen. has the meaning of in favor of, on account of, for the sake of.
    – Luc
    Commented Oct 26, 2016 at 14:57
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    Thank you. You might want to make that Ann answer. Thanks. Commented Oct 26, 2016 at 15:01

2 Answers 2


"Art for the Sake of Art"

This phrase, quite conveniently, uses the same word order in both English and Latin.

Ars, artis (artium) is a third-declension feminine noun. It can mean "art" in the sense of paintings and sculptures, but can also be more abstract, like the "art" of writing (i.e. the skill and experience required to be a good writer). Ars is the nominative "art", artis is the genitive "of art".

Ex: Ars Amātōria, "The Art of Love", a poem by Ovid.

Grātiā is one of the very very few prepositions taking the genitive case, meaning "for the sake of". It started out as the ablative singular of the noun grātia (with short a), which originally meant "sake". But just like in English, the noun became uncommon except in the fixed expression "for the sake of..."; grātia came to mean "thanks" instead, and that's the meaning it has in the Romance languages (Italian grazie, Spanish gracias, etc). So grātiā was re-analyzed as a preposition.

Ex: exemplī grātiā (e.g.), "for the sake of example".

So ars is nominative singular "art", grātiā is a preposition "for the sake", and artis is genitive singular "of art".


The ablatives causā and grātiā (for the sake of) are used with a Genitive preceding, or with a pronoun in agreement. (Allen and Greenough, 404 c).


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