"The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog" is an English pangram, i.e. a phrase or sentence that contains all the letters of the alphabet (Wiki). Pangrams are often used in font typography to show off all the letters used in that font, with the purpose of trying to fit as many letters in together naturally in the shortest meaningful phrase or sentence. While there are shorter now, for English "quick brown fox..." accomplishes that nicely.

My question is simple. Has someone already done this for Latin? As you can imagine, Googling would be a nightmare, since Latin refers to both the alphabet and the language, and even where people refer to the language, they often just discuss translating the English phrase above, which doesn't really do any good in getting to a nice, Latin pangram.

Bonus points if it's pure Classical Latin.

  • Do you want both long and short vowels to be in the phrase? Or just the letters? How about j and v? Commented Mar 19, 2016 at 2:52
  • @Nathaniel I thought about mentioning the vowels. Your and Joonas' conversation on macrons is what actually inspired me to write this. On j/v I'm not too concerned, but of course, if it can be added, too, the better?
    – cmw
    Commented Mar 19, 2016 at 2:58
  • What would make something impure/non-Classical Latin? Commented Mar 19, 2016 at 15:41
  • @JoelDerfner Post-classical constructions and vocabulary, new coinages, etc. When I asked for something Classical, I was thinking of something that could have been penned by Cicero or Ovid.
    – cmw
    Commented Mar 19, 2016 at 19:23

4 Answers 4


I wrote a Python script to analyze every couplet in the Aeneid: I quickly realized that the only instances of "K" occur in inflections of Karthago. If I include k, there are no pangram couplets.

If I exclude k (as well as z, but not y), my program produced the following couplets:

venerat, insano Cassandrae incensus amore,
et gener auxilium Priamo Phrygibusque ferebat,

obstipui, steteruntque comae et vox faucibus haesit.
Hunc Polydorum auri quondam cum pondere magno

Nox erat, et terris animalia somnus habebat:
effigies sacrae divom Phrygiique Penates,

infelix Theseus; Phlegyasque miserrimus omnis
admonet, et magna testatur voce per umbras:

Forte die sollemnem illo rex Arcas honorem
Amphitryoniadae magno divisque ferebat

a quo post Itali fluvium cognomine Thybrim
diximus, amisit verum vetus Albula nomen;

Haud procul hinc saxo incolitur fundata vetusto
urbis Agyllinae sedes, ubi Lydia quondam

quid gravidam bellis urbem et corda aspera temptas?
Nosne tibi fluxas Phrygiae res vertere fundo

Nosne tibi fluxas Phrygiae res vertere fundo
conamur, nos, an miseros qui Troas Achivis

Tarquitus exultans contra fulgentibus armis,
silvicolae Fauno Dryope quem nympha crearat,

ut bivias armato obsidam milite fauces.
Tu Tyrrhenum equitem conlatis excipe signis;

Fovit ea volnus lympha longaevus Iapyx
ignorans, subitoque omnis de corpore fugit

quantus Athos aut quantus Eryx aut ipse coruscis
cum fremit ilicibus quantus gaudetque nivali


I added a simple counter: here are some stats:

Virgil's Aeneid

  1. All letters except k and z: 13
  2. All letters except k, y, and z: 63

    Some complete statements that caught my eye:

    Hic tamen ille urbem Patavi sedesque locavit
    Teucrorum, et genti nomen dedit, armaque fixit

    solus hic inflexit sensus, animumque labantem
    impulit: adgnosco veteris vestigia flammae.

    His medium dictis sermonem abrumpit, et auras
    aegra fugit, seque ex oculis avertit et aufert,

    Non dabitur regnis, esto, prohibere Latinis,
    atque immota manet fatis Lavinia coniunx:

    dereptumque ab equo dextra complectitur hostem
    et gremium ante suum multa vi concitus aufert.

  3. All letters except z and y: 1 (unfortunately, not a complete statement: extruis is missing from the next line)

    Continuo invadit: 'Tu nunc Karthaginis altae
    fundamenta locas, pulchramque uxorius urbem

Ovid's Metamorphoses

  1. All letters except k and z: 11

    At least one complete statement:

    haut aliter stupuit, quam cum Tyrrhenus arator
    fatalem glaebam mediis adspexit in arvis

  2. All letters except k, y, and z: 76

  3. All letters except z and y: 0 (no Karthago!)

Python code:

# Full Latin text, separated by line breaks, here

LETTERS = 'abcdefghilmnopqrstuvyx' # Change as needed

lines = FULL_TEXT.split('\n')
times = 0

for i in range(len(lines)-1):
    two_lines = (lines[i] + lines[i + 1]).lower()
    for letter in LETTERS:
        if letter not in two_lines:
        print ('> *{}*  \n> *{}*\n\n'.format(lines[i], lines[i + 1]))
        times += 1
print (times)
  • 2
    Interesting. I wonder if this was done on purpose. I also wonder if there are any single lines (since these aren't couplets in the technical sense), and what would happen if you we remove the Greek y. This has potential.
    – cmw
    Commented Mar 20, 2016 at 14:15
  • 1
    I am in love with you. I wonder whether pangrammic couplets could be constructed from non-adjacent lines one of which included Karthago. Commented Mar 20, 2016 at 14:37
  • 1
    I added some more findings: if I exclude y, there actually was one "couplet" that included Karthago, though it unfortunately lacks one key verb which is in the next line.
    – brianpck
    Commented Mar 20, 2016 at 17:36
  • 1
    As to whether this was done on purpose: the 63 figure seems rather high to me out of 9900 lines (.636% by my count), but then I checked Ovid's Metamorphoses for the same criteria and found 76/12000 (.633%), which is almost identical. Unless they both were aiming at the same effect (very possible), I'm inclined to think this aligns with natural letter frequency in Latin.
    – brianpck
    Commented Mar 20, 2016 at 17:42
  • 4
    Fun fact I just learned: there is not even one k in the whole text of the Metamorphoses
    – brianpck
    Commented Mar 20, 2016 at 17:52

Not best of my elegiac couplets, but here goes:

Sic tibi rex iuvenis gracili ore piloque Kalendis
     hac forma lyrica littera quaeque datur.

Free translation:

Young king with simple face and hair, this is how you are given every letter through this lyrical form on the first day of the month.

I never use J when writing Latin, but the couplet does contain one if you are inclined to use it (juvenis). The only missing letter is Z, but that is not much of a Latin letter. Also, not all vowels are included in both lengths. If you would prefer to have a Z and macrons, let me know and I will see what I can do.

I think there is no such meta phrase in classical literature, which gives all the letters and tells that it does so.


Came across this single line in the Poetae Latini Minores (author uncertain):

Sic fugiens, dux, zelotypos quam Karus haberis.

The translation I see floating around the internet is odd, though:

Thus fleeing, O leader, you are regarded with jealousy like Karus.

Making that work would take some loosening of the grammar. My guess is that there might have been an error in the manuscript, but I can't think of what it would be changed to, not yet.

Looking around led me to a few more here and one from here, but they're dubious.

The first one I mentioned apparently has already been offered as a Latin version of "Quick brown fox...", too. One thing these don't do is distinguish between the consonantal and vocalic i, nor would they u/v, except as part of qu.


My earlier answer (my first Latin poetry ever!) left out the letter x. Let's try this one. I omit y as an effeminate Græcism but include v and j. I would offer, as @JoonasIlmavirta did, to edit so as to represent all vowel lengths, but honestly I'm not sure I'm capable of it.

Illecebróse spintria, quid jactáre juventam?
Karthágó interiit, fax citius moritur!

A loose translation:

Enticing rent-boy, why do you flaunt your youth?
Carthage passed away, the torch dies so quickly!

I'm going to keep editing this damn thing until it's free of errors.

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