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Could someone advise how I might translate "We shall want for nothing" into Latin? I'm struggling to find an online translator that isn't gibberish and my own attempt is even worse!

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    Welcome to the site! Feel free to include your own attempt, as it can be helpful in developing a translation that captures what you want to express.
    – Adam
    Jan 9, 2023 at 17:27
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    The reason the online translators don't do a good job is that "we shall want for nothing" is not idiomatic modern English. Start by finding an equivalent more colloquial phrase, for example "we'll have everything we need". Jan 10, 2023 at 15:03

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This feels like it's intended as a callback to Psalm 23, which in the KJV starts:

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

The corresponding line in the Vulgate (where it's Psalm 22):

Dominus regit me, et nihil mihi deerit.

This literally means "[the Lord rules me, and] nothing (nihil) will-be-absent (deerit) for-me (mihi)". Pluralising mihi gives:

Nihil nōbīs dēerit.

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I agree that Psalm 23 is a natural choice, but if you wanted to avoid the religious connection, another common word for this is egere, and if you check under its entry on Lewis and Short (skip the crappy online translators!), you can see some more synonyms:

ĕgĕo , ŭi, 2 (
I.part. fut. egitura, Tert. adv. Marc. 4, 24), v. n. cf. Gr. ἀχήν, poor; root αχ-, αγχ, in ἄχος, ἄγχω, etc.; Lat. angustus, angina, to be needy (for syn. cf.: indigeo, careo, vaco).

Note that egeo most often takes an ablative, though sometimes it can take a genitive and even once noted for taking an accusative in Plautus.

To translate the phrase as you put it gives you

nulla re egebimus

which is a phrase that is attested in Cicero's Paradoxes of the Stoics:

nihil adpetunt, nulla re egent, nihil sibi deesse sentiunt, nihil requirunt.

In fact, besides the fact that they're present and third person, all four of the above phrases work well for your original phrase.

nihil adpetemus, nulla re egebimus, nihil nobis deesse sentiemus, nihil requiremus.


One more possibility is using desiderare in a metaphorical sense:

II. With predominant idea of lacking, wanting, to miss any thing: “ex me audies, quid in oratione tua desiderem,” Cic. Rep. 2, 38: “si non est, nolis esse neque desideres,” Plaut. Bacch. 4, 8, 73: “quid a peritioribus rei militaris desiderari videbatur,” Caes. B. C. 3, 61, 3 et saep.—Esp. with quominus: “praeter quercum Dodonaeam nihil desideramus, quo minus Epirum ipsum possidere videamur,” Cic. Att. 2, 4, 5. —

Nihil desideramus is almost exactly what you need, except that it's present tense. Changing it to future gives you:

nihil desiderabimus

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Nihilō carēbimus.

Carēbimus literally means "we shall lack", or "we shall want" in the sense of "want" in your phrase. Another form of the same verb is caret, meaning "it lacks", which is where we get the English word "caret", the little mark ^ that indicates a place in some text where something is missing.

This verb takes an object in the ablative case, which nicely corresponds to "for nothing" in your sentence. Nihilum means "nothing"; nihilō is its ablative case.

Here are definitions for both words on Wiktionary, with pronunciation and grammar: careō ("I lack") and nihilum.


I am not an expert on Latin, so please wait at least a day before accepting this answer. The words nihil and nihilum have some quirks in Latin, and I may have unwittingly stepped into one. Also, as pithy as this wording is, there might be an even nicer established wording from the Latin literature that expresses the same thought.

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  • Sure enough, Cairnarvon found a well known sentence in the literature to echo. That might be the better choice, depending on exactly what meaning you want to convey.
    – Ben Kovitz
    Jan 9, 2023 at 19:59
  • FWIW your translation looks perfectly acceptable to me, and I upvoted it.
    – Cairnarvon
    Jan 9, 2023 at 20:16
  • The only quibble I have is that I don't see nihilo used as an object of careo (did a quick PHI search, so perhaps there's something later?). Even in that Cicero passage I cited, he uses nulla re with egeo instead of nihilo (despite using nihil for the other three verbs). For some reason, it just feels off to me to have the ablative of nihilo here in this way, but I can't quite say why.
    – cmw
    Jan 9, 2023 at 20:56
  • @cmw I have much less experience with Latin, and I have the same feeling: that nihilo is probably somehow unidiomatic. My intuitions have been wrong before, though (including just a few days ago).
    – Ben Kovitz
    Jan 9, 2023 at 21:36

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