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Please help me get the most accurate Latin for "Onwards and Upwards"? I've searched the site and couldn't find this. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

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  • Thank you both so much for coming back to me on this. It means a lot! Commented May 29 at 16:08
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    – cmw
    Commented May 29 at 17:43

2 Answers 2

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As I mention in this answer, "onward and upward" is often a translation for excelsior.

You can see an explanation for this on Webster's dictionary:

Onward and Upward With Excelsior

In 1778 the state of New York adopted a coat of arms incorporating the motto “Excelsior,” Latin for “Higher.” Decades later, the motto sparked the imagination of the young Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and in 1842 he used it as the title of an allegorical poem of doomed idealism. The poem begins, “The shades of night were falling fast, / As through an Alpine village passed / A youth, who bore, 'mid snow and ice, / A banner with the strange device, / Excelsior!” and follows the young man as he forges upward on his inscrutable mission, ignoring all warnings, before eventually perishing in the snow. It became so popular that, in its wake, the word was adopted as a brand name by numerous businesses; one manufactured wood shavings for use as packing material, and the term is still used for shavings today. But though Longfellow was an eminent linguist, he, like the founders of New York, failed to reflect that the adjective excelsior was perhaps less appropriate to his purpose than the adverb sursum (“upwards”). But the world hasn’t minded—and certainly not the great comic-book writer Stan Lee, who for decades closed his popular magazine columns and speeches with the heartening exclamation.

So while it is not a literal translation, in English the two are linked.

Also as Webster's notes, sursum is the better translation for "upward". Putting that together with the answer from the other question I linked, and you can get a more literal (and more grammatically sound) translation with:

Prorsum et Sursum

Quick note. There are multiple ways to say "and" in Latin, et being only one of them. You could also use ac and atque or even attach -que to the second word (so prorsum sursumque) depending on whim and some minor nuances.

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Another option for expressing the idea of "onward and upward" could be "ad maiora" which would be literally "toward greater (things)". Here "ad" + accusative means "toward", the comparative "maiora" (neutral plural accusative) is used alone for brevity implying "things". In Italy we still use this expression when we want to wish someone an even greater success, for instance it is used for people who just got a degree, or a promotion or an award.

Italian usage reference

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    Welcome to the site!
    – cmw
    Commented May 29 at 11:26

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