The following constructions feel simple enough:

"You don't even move." — Ne moveris quidem.
"Don't move!" — Noli moveri! or "Ne motus sis."

But what if I want to give a negative order with "even"? That is, how to say "Don't even move!"? The corresponding statement would containt ne … quidem, but I'm not sure how to combine that with the order structure. Can I add the "even" (quidem) with both constructions, noli + infinitive and ne + perfect conjunctive?

My guess is that I would get Noli moveri quidem! and Ne motus quidem sis! but I have never seen either of these and I wonder if they are in fact grammatical.

This question is related to another question about using quidem, but not quite the same.

  • This question has, by now, been viewed 290 times, but has not yet had the asker select the preferred answer, @Joonas Ilmavirta.
    – Canned Man
    Nov 2, 2018 at 8:57
  • 1
    @CannedMan Thanks for the reminder! There are a couple of typical reasons I don't accept an answer: (1) I forget. (2) I'm not sufficiently satisfied with the answers. (3) I'm waiting for an answerer to respond to comments or otherwise expand. (4) I want to give time for others to answer. // It used to be something else, but this has been a case of (1) for a while.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Nov 2, 2018 at 15:47

2 Answers 2


To answer your question, one could choose to interpret it to have an unspoken clause, as per the comments to the first answer. There are indeed ways to express this in Latin: nē (…) quidem [–––] nōn mōdō expresses ‘not even [–––] much less’ or the likes. Examples:

nē suēs quidem id velint, nōn mōdō ipse: not even swine would like that, no less he.

This kind of negative statement may also be used with other markers of negation, such as in Cic. Arch. where you’ll find forms such as

  • nōn mōdō […] vērum etiam,
  • nōn mōdō […] nōn,
  • nōn mōdō […] sed,
  • nōn mōdō […] vērum […] enim and
  • nōn mōdō […] vērum enim.

John Philip Krebs writes in his Guide for Writing Latin: Consisting of Rules and Examples for Practice on how such a clause is construced (§ 540). In his examples, he assumes a previous clause stating not only not leading to a following clause stating various negations, such as but not even, scarcely, &c. He explicitly explains this to be solved as such:

[It] is expressed by non modo (solum) non, followed by sed ne — quidem (sed vix and the like: [… where examples follow]

Remarks: (1) Instead of the second not in the first clause, another negative word can also be used, e.g. no one, nothing, never, etc., for which, in the last case with non modo without non the words quisquam, quidquam, unquam are used. […]

He goes on to state that the positions of the clauses may be inverted, and adds a third remark with regards to nēdum, meaning not to say and the likes.

Going back to your question then, it seems that one may construct the phrase you are requesting. I will make some slight changes, particularly with the comment mentioned in the beginning, but the example should work well enough for your case.

  1. Assume a previous statement, for example ‘Do not move!’. This is clearly a negative imperative.
  2. Assuming the previous statement, the actual phrase you are looking for, is something like ‘Do not even breathe!’.

Using ‘nōlō, nōlle, nōluī, —’ as the negative imperative, one then gets the following:

  1. Nōlī (tē) mōvere!’ – ‘Do not move (yourself)!’
  2. Nē spīrā quidem!’ or ‘Nē flā quidem!’ – ‘Do not even breath!’, classical Latin
  3. Nē quidem spīrā!’ or ‘Nē quidem flā!’ – ‘Do not even breath!’, later Latin

Thanks to @cnread for his comment, improving this answer with the difference in numbers 2 and 3.

Note that following nōlō with a negative, does not undo the negation, as per Lewis and Short:

Sometimes followed by a negative, which does not destroy the negation: “nolui deesse, ne tacitae quidem flagitioni tuae,” Cic. Top. 1, 5;


As always, should anyone find any errors in my answer, please comment, and I will do my utmost to correct it.

  • Welcome to the site and many thanks for a great answer! I sure hope to hear more from you on the site.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Oct 16, 2018 at 8:18
  • Thanks for the kind comment, Joonas! I would, by the way, have liked to add negation to the tags for the original question, but it seems this is not an available tag. I see you have a high rep. Could it be that Meta is closed for low rep users? If that is the case, could you make this request on my behalf?
    – Canned Man
    Oct 16, 2018 at 8:24
  • It never occurred to me that we have no negation tag, but it would certainly make sense here and many other places. The threshold for meta participation is 5 points, so you should be able to access it now.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Oct 16, 2018 at 8:50
  • I have now added this as a question in Meta: latin.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/367/…
    – Canned Man
    Oct 16, 2018 at 11:27
  • 2
    If you're aiming for classical Latin, ne quidem spira should be ne spira quidem. In the extant classical literary writers, ne quidem just isn't used w/o some word between them; even, e.g., Plautus doesn't do it. It seems to be perfectly fine as legal Latin and/or Late Latin though (it maybe also as Medieval Latin). All but one ex. that I found in a search on PHI were from legal texts of Gaius (2nd c.) and Justinian (6th c.). The last ex., from Flavius Caper (2nd c.), just says to say 'ne fieri quidem potest' instead of 'ne quidem fieri potest' – i.e., to put something between ne and quidem.
    – cnread
    Oct 16, 2018 at 21:37

What you are looking for is an adverb that means "not even," as "Do not even move!" Various words could fit this description, such as nec, necnon, or ne...quidem. Ne...quidem was the most common form of the three, so I would think that you would use that primarily. Quidem by itself is probably not a good idea, because it most likely was used in the context of "Even the dog could speak!" rather than "not even" when used with Noli. Noli literally means "be unwilling" so it can not be un-contracted to "do not" like "don't" can. Your second attempt literally-ish means "You may not even be moved!", which isn't quite a command. Anyways, the idea of "don't even" seems to me to be a rather English construction, so it doesn't quite translate perfectly. I would say that there is no good translation, but if there appears there is, I'd be happy to hear about it.

  • Thanks! Some remarks: (1) I'm not convinced that "don't even" is an English construction. It has a perfect translation in Finnish ("älä edes" as opposed to "älä") despite the languages not being related. (2) In the second attempt, I was trying to say "don't move yourself" (using passive reflexively), since movere is transitive. Perhaps ne te moveris would be better than ne motus sis, but that's tangential to the real question. (3) Indeed, I am looking for "not even". I know ne...quidem is good, but the question is whether it works for orders.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Jun 13, 2016 at 1:38
  • @JoonasIlmavirta (1) Well then I must have misspoke about the English construction thing. I just don't think it is native to Latin in the same sense that other languages have it. (2) The reflexive you are looking for is tui. (3) I don't think ne...quidem works as ne is the negatuve of ut, which makes it a dependent clause. An order is inherently not a dependent clause so it really can't be used here.
    – Sam K
    Jun 13, 2016 at 2:26
  • This is a valid English construction, but it has a fairly specific meaning—there's an implied more extreme action that is also forbidden. If I'm watching TV with my husband and I know he wants to change the channel, I might say "Don't even move!" meaning something like "Don't change the channel. Don't touch the remote. In fact, don't even move." Jun 13, 2016 at 14:17
  • 1
    @SamK Tui surprises me—I thought movere took the accusative. Jun 13, 2016 at 14:19
  • @JoelDerfner I apologize, I do mean te instead of tui. As for your second comment, what exactly are you trying to say (what point are you trying to make)?
    – Sam K
    Jun 13, 2016 at 14:31

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.