Is 'ecce esse!' acceptable Latin for 'Lo, to be!'?

I've tried looking online for answers, but I've not found anything definitive either confirming or disconfirming that it is, though I do not have experience in this kind of research.

  • FWIW, esse also means being in a philosophical sense, as in human being, since at least medieval Latin. So ecce esse can also be translated as behold the being
    – Rafael
    Jun 28, 2018 at 10:48
  • @Rafael In that sense I would expect the participle ens. Comparing that and esse might make an interesting new question...
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Jun 28, 2018 at 10:52
  • 2
    Ens works as being as well. My metaphysics are a bit rusty now. You are right in that a being is ens, but I think the being (~existence) is esse. St. Thomas Aquinas defines God as ipsum esse subsistens. And there is also actus essendi, the act of being. For me all the three are ser in Spanish. Maybe that is the source of my mixing up the meanings
    – Rafael
    Jun 28, 2018 at 11:03

1 Answer 1


Yes, you can. In Latin you can always write ecce and a noun, as in ecce homo. The infinitive of a verb (such as esse) can be used as a noun. For oblique cases you would have to consider the gerund, but it is not needed here.

The phrase ecce esse will be a little difficult to parse, just as "lo, to be" is. It is a compact and unusual expression, but I see nothing ungrammatical about it.

Whether ecce esse is the best phrase for your purpose depends on context. As a translation of "lo, to be" without further context it is fine. In more specific situations there can be better ways to put it.

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