I work on a team that packages software, and we're making t-shirts for the team. In the design, we want to include the phrase "Big things come in small packages" in Latin. I've used various entries in Google Translate to arrive at:

Magna quae veniunt in parvis sarcinae.

But I was told this might be incorrect. Another translation proposed is:

Magna in sarcinis parvis veniunt.

It's important for us that the word for "packages" is included because that's what we work on. I'd greatly appreciate some help in making sure we use the correct translation. Thank you!

1 Answer 1


I don't know if anyone has coined "package" for computers yet. There of course isn't a native Roman word for it, as computers didn't exist when Latin was a living language.

The normal word for "package" (i.e. a bundle of items) was indeed sarcina (short ĭ). I suppose that's as good as any. So your second source is close, but they're using an English idiom which wouldn't make too much sense to a Roman. In particular, I'd drop the verb. It hardly makes sense in English if it weren't an already established idiom.

I propose then the following:

Magna in sarcinulis parvis / "Big things in small packs."

I used the diminutive here, which would be a more natural way of describing a "small package" than using a bare adjective.

  • 3
    To my language sense (which I'll grant may be experiencing interference from my native Dutch) diminutives express that a thing is small but keep the focus on the thing rather than the smallness. Magna in sarcinulis feels to me like "big things in packs (that happen to be small)" rather than "... in small packs" like the English, which has a stronger focus on the smallness than a bare diminutive; to keep the contrast between the bigness of the thing and the smallness of the package I feel you do need the adjective, though I'd also keep the diminutive.
    – Cairnarvon
    Nov 17, 2022 at 16:15
  • 1
    @Cairnarvon You're right, that makes sense. Plus you lose the parallelism if you drop the adjective.
    – cmw
    Nov 17, 2022 at 16:35

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