The expression (idiom?) jam nunc appears several times in the Vulgata. So far I've seen two common translations. One is that of "now presently". For instance, Exodus 9:19:

(Latin) Mitte ergo jam nunc, et congrega jumenta tua, et omnia quae habes in agro ...

(English, Douay-Rheims) Send therefore now presently, and gather together thy cattle, and all that thou hast in the field ...

Another translation is "here and now". For instance, 1 Samuel 14:33:

(Latin) Nuntiaverunt autem Sauli dicentes quod populus peccasset Domino, comedens cum sanguine. Qui ait : Praevaricati estis : volvite ad me jam nunc saxum grande.

(English, Douay-Rheims) And they told Saul that the people had sinned against the Lord, eating with the blood. And he said: You have transgressed: roll here to me now a great stone.

Now, Wiktionary has some guidelines on the differences between jam and nunc. For instance, the latter website says

"Nunc" always means the literal present or "now"; the other use of "now" is usually translated "iam".

But how are the two together to be normally understood? Is there a rule for this? Is this phrase perhaps an idiom?


2 Answers 2


Jam nunc is not at all mysterious. It simply, and literally, means 'already now'. An alternative might be to reverse the English words to 'now already', or to say 'even at this moment', or anything similar. It's only slightly different to jam fere, 'just about now'. In each of these phrases either added word serves as an emphasis, and in other contexts (where the English would allow it) might even be translated as 'very'.

Cicero (Att. 1. 8) uses the phrase with clear intent in Hermae tui Pentelici cum capitibus aeneis, de quibus ad me scripsisti, iam nunc me admodum delectant.

  • So "here and now" (idiomatically speaking) is also a "valid" translation, as the "here" can also be understood as meaning something "already happened", as in "it is here now [already with us]"?
    – luchonacho
    Dec 3, 2018 at 12:14
  • 'Here and now' describes something happening in the speaker's presence, or that the speaker knows to be occurring elsewhere. It isn't quite of the same meaning as iam nunc, but may occasionally be close enough.
    – Tom Cotton
    Dec 3, 2018 at 12:28

Besides "already now", iam nunc (or equivalently, albeit less frequently, nunc iam) also means "now not anymore" in negative sentences, such as in Catullus' Miser Catulle:

Nunc iam illa non vult.

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