I am trying to translate one quote from Estee Lauder, that goes as following:

I have never dreamed about success. I worked for it.

Google translator returned this result:

Numquam viderat elit. Et fecerunt pro ea.

Do you consider the last sentence to be grammatically and stylistically correct? If not, please suggest how you would re-phrase it, ideally with a bit of an explanation.

1 Answer 1


It's not even close. Of the words, only numquam is the right word. As good as Google Translate is for other languages, it's not good at all for Latin.

A quick and dirty translation would go something like this:

De prosperis numquam somniavi; immo eis laboravi.

You have some options for "success," but I think prospera works nicely in the phrase here. However, I should note it's post-Augustan in its usage. I don't know if that matters to you.

Somniare is your best bet with "to dream," and can even mean "to daydream," as in English. When you dream about a thing, rather than of the thing, Latin often puts that into de + the ablative, which is what I did there.

Immo here is working like a "nay":

I did not...; nay, I did...

Finally, laborare means "to toil" or "to labor," and while you could have used a verb that meant "to strive for," to really emphasize the difficulty in "working for it," I chose this verb. Its object would go into the dative, so that's the simple eis (plural to go with prospera).

  • Your explanation is terrific! Just a subquestion though - google translated the second part of the sentence as "Indeed, it labored." Is there any way of saying skipping "Immo" and using a form closer to my original English quote? Thanks again Commented Jan 29, 2017 at 17:58
  • 4
    @LeoNapoleon Google is simply wrong there. The second part of CM's quote means "I worked for it"; is the object, the in laborāvī specifies that "I" is the subject. Immo is an intensifier without a perfect English equivalent, making the contrast between the two parts more emphatic.
    – Draconis
    Commented Jan 29, 2017 at 18:39
  • By 1200 'somnium' became 'sompnium' and I would like the added emphasis of sompniavi.
    – Hugh
    Commented Jan 29, 2017 at 18:49

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