I'm looking for a good phrase to encapsulate "ever upward, together" and i'd like to use Una, Excelsior

Any thoughts or other suggestions?

2 Answers 2


That does not seem like a good translation to me, for the following reasons:

  1. excelsior does not really mean “upward,” it means “higher, loftier; more elevated, distinguished” etc. (I get that being “higher” often implies an upward motion, but it's still a different thing.)
  2. Besides, excelsior is also masculine/feminine singular, so it cannot refer to several people or have an adverbial quality.
  3. una does mean “together,” but it also simply means “one,” and usually the way it is used implies the “together” meaning. For example: una cum X, una et Y, etc. Even something simple like una venierunt (they came together) could not be understood in any other way. But in your example, this is not so clear.

So when I read una excelsior, my first idea at least is “one (female person) is higher.” Not really the idea.

So, how to improve things?

Upward is typically either sursum or sublime. Sublime sounds a little more, well, sublime? but is also a little ambiguous, because it's really a noun meaning “great height” or something to that effect. Therefore I would say in sublime, which is also attested. Sursum is the standard word for “upward,” but also pretty literal and prosaic. So if you're looking for this phrase to celebrate, say, a mountaineering party or a roofing business, go with sursum, if it's a wedding ring, go with in sublime.

Alternatively, you could avoid translating “upward” directly and instead use a verb that implies upward motion, like escendere or ascendere (to ascend, climb, rise up), e.g. ascendamus (let us rise up, may we ascend etc).

For together, I would recommend coniunctim or coniuncte (adverbs) or coniuncti (if the phrase refers to several people). If you use a verb, una would be unproblematic as well (e.g. una ascendamus).

Finally, for ever I understand this to mean “only upward, never down,” and I would translate this simply as semper. (There would be other options like nihil aliud quam ascendamus etc., but I feel they would be too heavyweight.) Alternatively, you could leave it out, as you have done in your translation attempt.

So, a possible translation would be: Coniunctim in sublime; or: Una semper ascendamus.

  • 1
    I think "upwards" in this sense does not indicate motion, and there's some support for translating excelsior thus, in that it's the official translation of the motto of New York.
    – cmw
    Oct 27, 2023 at 20:29

While Excelsior, the motto of New York, is often translated as "ever upward", it doesn't really contain the "ever" part, nor does it really mean "upward", as Sebastian correctly points out. Instead, it really just means "higher [= more elevated], loftier."

That said, if you're thinking about that motto in particular with your English, than there's little reason to change it to something more accurate: the Latin precedes the (inaccurate) English.

But you'll need to change the grammar a bit if you want it to apply to a group of people who are doing something together. There una is fine, but excelsior will need to be changed to excelsiores, the plural, to indicate you're now talking to multiple people.

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