Can someone please tell me the appropriate translation for “life is fleeting”. So far I have come up with “vitae est labilis”.


2 Answers 2


This, I guess, is drawing on Horace's Ode to Postumus: "Sadly, the fleeting years slip away."

Eheu fugaces Postume, Postume, Labuntur anni,

vitae labilis (without est ) means 'slippery lives,' or 'stumbling lives.' For 'Fleeting years' Horace chose Fugaces Anni.

'Life is Fleeting,' if you would like to follow Horace, would be Vita Fugax, or Fugax est Vita.

Fugax Fugax II. Trop. A. www.perseus.tufts is the reference.

  • 3
    Fugiō is a good verb for this, cf tempus fugit
    – Draconis
    Commented Nov 8, 2018 at 16:17
  • @Draconis Can you write a separate answer around that idea? It's worth more than a comment.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Commented Nov 9, 2018 at 3:38
  • 1
    Thanks for the quick response, would it be better to simply have vita fugax or something like vita est fugaces or vita fugaces?
    – Hunter
    Commented Nov 9, 2018 at 14:15
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    @Hugh Vitae sunt fugaces? The singular form is a far better choice, though.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Commented Nov 9, 2018 at 16:51
  • Not 'vita est fugaces' because -st f- is awkward to pronounce; and it would have to be 'vitae sunt fugaces' "lives are fleeting". Not 'vita fugaces' because it means 'Avoid the runners.' Vita Fugax or Tom Cotton's Vita Brevis are really your best choices.
    – Hugh
    Commented Nov 9, 2018 at 17:36

Ars longa, vita brevis is an ancient translation from the Greek of Hippocrates, occurring in the first lines of his Aphorismi.

The aphorism is well-known and understood in English. The best answer in my view is undoubtedly vita brevis.

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