This is not a straight translation question. I am asking this because the above phrase, from 'Concede parum, nega frequenter, distingue semper' seems to be rendered by some unofficial sources (see here - the man who owns that blog is a priest and has a doctorate in Medieval philosophy, for what it's worth) as 'Seldom affirm, rarely deny, always distinguish', although it seems it would be better rendered 'Seldom affirm, frequently deny, always distinguish', which is quite a different expression. The only reason I'm not jumping to conclusions, is my Latin is rather rusty, and I wonder if I'm forgetting some idiom. A web search seems to pull up only that source, some forums, and the Latin expression quoted in older scholarly writings (in Google books) without translation. Any help is appreciated! Thank you.

1 Answer 1


You are right, nega frequenter does mean "deny frequently". I would guess that there was a confusion between frequenter (frequently) and infrequenter (infrequently).

  • Thank you, Joonas! That actually makes a lot of sense. In full disclosure, I just parroted it with 'frequenter' (with a tiny nagging in my mind), because of the doubt outlined above. A friendly acquaintance challenged me on it, and I'm glad she did!
    – user
    Jan 30, 2019 at 7:58
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    @user I'm glad to be able to help! It's always good to have acquaintances who challenge your ideas and do so in a friendly way. If you happen to have more questions on Latin, I hope you will consider asking them on our little site.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Jan 30, 2019 at 8:54
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    As a brief addendum: the phrase was not "often said" by Aquinas, as the cited blog post claims. It seems that it was coined anonymously well after as a generic maxim for scholastic practice.
    – brianpck
    Jan 30, 2019 at 13:14
  • @brianpck Thank you! That was going to be my next question (although I wasn’t sure where to ask). I have seen this attributed to Aquinas many times by people of whom one would expect accurate information on such matters. A quick question: did the maxim admonish “seldom deny” or “frequentely deny”? Researching this, I have now seen both forms. Thank you!
    – user
    Jan 30, 2019 at 16:03
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    @user You can always ask that as a separate question, too. Figuring out the origin of a phrase is well worth a question. Separate questions make the information easier to find.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Jan 30, 2019 at 16:10

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