Questions tagged [idiom]

For questions concerning expressions, word-plays, symbolic language, metaphors and the likes.

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Could one consider using Latin as a daily casual language these days?

I just saw a video asking like how would one say I just had an avocado toast and thought about some of the new stuff that didn't exist back then. How would we integrate new words into the Latin ...
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Help your friends, harm your enemies

"Help your friends, harm your enemies." I have heard this was a motto of Roman life and foreign policy. It is the definition of justice that begins the discussion in Plato's Republic. I believe that ...
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How to say "To serve, not to be served" in Latin?

I would like to know how to translate the phrase "To serve, not to be served" in Latin. It doesn't have to be a word for word translation. But, I want to know the phrase that would give the ...
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Is there a Latin euphemism for going to the toilet?

In some situations it might be considered vulgar or lower style to say "I have to go to the toilet". In English there are many ways around this: you can call the toilet something finer (bathroom, ...
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Origin of "seize the day" as a translation of Horace's carpe diem

Even many people who have never studied Latin know the phrase carpe diem (from Horace's Odes 1.11), and can tell you that it means "seize the day". But "seize" is not a very close translation of ...
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"Initium doctrinae sit consideratio nominis"

I'm looking for a Latin phrase for starting your exposition by explaining the terms, i.e. its title. I believe the quote is "initium doctrinae sit consideratio nominis," but I'm not sure that that's ...
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1answer
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Quem describit Petrarca?

In a letter dated May 30, 1342, Petrarch invites his friend Cardinal Johannes Columna to visit him in his mountain retreat of Vaucluse. In several places, I've come across English translations of one ...
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Blowing one's own horn

Is there a Latin idiom for praising oneself in classical Latin? In English one can blow one's own horn (there are variants of this saying), but I doubt tuba sua ludere is likely mean the right thing. ...
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Parallels for the infinitive in "memento mori"?

The famous phrase memento mori (the subject of this question) means something like "remember that you will die, remember you are mortal". But this use of the infinitive seems odd. Memini is often ...
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881 views

What is a black sheep in Latin?

It is easy to translate "black sheep" literally: ovis nigra. I suspect that this phrase does not have the same meaning as in English (and Finnish), judging by its absence in literature — ...
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A good Latin word for "point"

I am looking for a Latin word for "point" to be used like this: I see your point. I hope this example gets the point across. There is no point in peeling a banana. Good point! There probably is no ...
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1answer
203 views

He is known for...?

How would one best translate the English idiom "to be known for", as in "he is known for defeating the Gauls"? This came up when discussing uses of the gerund, but in English the idiom also works with ...
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What is touché in Latin?

What would be a good translation of "touché" from English to Latin? Translating the French participle gives tactus, but I doubt that will convey the same idea. Is there an idiomatic Latin expression ...
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For the sake of the plot

In my Sanskrit dictionary, the Latin phrase metri causa ("for the sake of the metre") is used to alert the reader to forms which may be used irregularly in order to fit the metre. For example, in the ...
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Quando "a fortiori" ortum est?

Quando vocabulum a fortiori (sive a fortiore) ortum est ut nomen artis legis logicæve? In quo opere scripto primum apparuit? Volo intellegere eius rationem originis verificareque verbum elisum "...
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How do I say "this is why…"?

I've seen this meme circulating lately, pointing out one of the many valid reasons to learn to speak dead languages properly: My first thought was, "this is why we need to mark long vowels!" But I ...
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How to say "everything will be good" in Latin?

I wanted to find out how to say in Latin "everything will be good" (like in "all'll gon'a be fine"). I came up with Omnium bene futurum. Is this o.k., or am I too ill-Latined?
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"Wishful thinking" in Latin

How to express the that a scenario just mentioned is probably too-optimistic and unlikely to happen (and might merely reflect the hopes of one, rather than being grounded on evidence). phantasia comes ...
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Did the Romans 'tip' for good service?

I need to refer in Latin to the modern practice of 'tipping' in return for good service. I am well aware of words and phrases for 'reward', which are essentially correct for my purpose, but I should ...
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Why *In medias res* and not *In media res*?

Wikipedia gives literal translation as: Into the middle of things. As far as I am aware into – in takes accusative. Plural accusative of medium seems to be media, not medias Even if I am ...
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"Without further ado"

Suppose I have invited some friends for dinner and I want to say something before we eat. But I don't want to give a long speech. If I do this in English, I might start my last sentence with "without ...
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What is a runny nose?

I got a cold, and the most irritating symptom so far is a runny nose (rhinorrhea). But what is "runny nose" in Latin? It can be a noun, a verb, or any kind of way to describe the situation. I don't ...
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What is close combat in Latin?

I checked a couple of dictionaries, but I found no translation for "close combat". I am looking for an expression for fighting close to one's enemy as opposed to using long distance weaponry. What ...
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"There is" in Latin

In English you use the phrasal verb there+[to be] to mean something different than just an object being placed somewhere visible or known to the speaker and/or listener (i.e., there). According to ...
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Did Cicero say or write "dubitando ad veritatem pervenimus"?

I have seen the phrase "Dubitando ad veritatem pervenimus." attributed to Cicero in some websites and books, some of them claiming to find it in De officiis (for instance Diccionario Akal Del ...
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Are there Latin words for hair color?

English words like "brunette", "blonde", and "redhead" refer to people of a particular hair color. Are there similar words in Latin? It is easy to express hair color in English or Latin with several ...
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"With all due respect" in Latin

Several sites, including the notorious Google Translate, have Salva pace to mean "with all due respect". However I could not confirm this from classical sources, yet we can find several ...
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Double meaning Ex pluribus unum

Ex pluribus unum means (simplified) "From many, one", in the sense that many parts build one whole. Can I also use the phrase in the sense that from many possible solutions or things only one (the ...
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How to respond to sneezing?

There is an idiomatic way to respond to someone sneezing in many languages, and Wikipedia has a list. Latin is not included. Is there a canonical Latin reaction to someone sneezing? Any era of Latin ...
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Is my interpretation of "Ad Astra per Aspera" correct?

I came across the phrase ad astra per aspera — "to the stars through difficulties." I think I know what it means, but my interpretation appears to be at odds with others. For example: The ...
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1answer
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Semper Veritas, Semper Veritatem, or something else?

I'm considering getting a tattoo with the phrase "Always Truth" or "Always the Truth" in Latin, but I'm not 100% how to translate it, because I don't really understand Latin noun declension. My first ...
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How would one say "Pardon me," in the sense of not understanding or hearing, in Classical Latin?

Especially when speaking a second language, I am forced to frequently say something like "Pardon me?" or "What was that?" or "Excuse me?" when I fail to understand or hear what a speaker says. I'd ...
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1answer
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Is it idiomatic to say "Intellego" to assure the speaker you're understanding?

In other words, when an English speaking person would say "I see" meaning "I understand what you're saying", is it natural in classical Latin to say Intellego, as in, maybe even more than once? If not,...
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1answer
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Variable Interpretation of Memento Mori

I'm given to understand that "memento mori" literally translates to "remember dying," which is in turn frequently taken to mean "remember that you will die." Could someone also interpret it to mean "...
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How to say "it's a question of" or "it's all about"?

How can I express something like the following sentences in Latin? Being a teacher is simple; it's a question of discipline. I don't care if I win or not; it's all about surviving. I can offer some ...
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1answer
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Does "quidam Ciceronis" indicate respect for the person?

In Augustine's Confessions, book 3, chapter 4, he writes: et usitato iam discendi ordine perveneram in librum cuiusdam Ciceronis (source) Henry Chadwick translates the bolded phrase as "a certain ...
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Translating "something leads to something"

How can I translate sentences like "poverty leads to hunger" to Latin? There are several possible verbs for leading, and my first choice is ducere, but I am not sure if it can be used in this sense. ...
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Help translating "It's not a bug, it's a feature!"?

I know no Latin, but playing around with Google Translate I came up with "Non insectum opus est". Insectum seems like a good stand in for a generic bug, but maybe blatta is better (see http:/...
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How to say "elämä kantaa" or "life will prevail"?

How can one translate the Finnish phrase "elämä kantaa" or "elämä voittaa" to Latin? The literal English translations are "life carries" and "life wins". The first phrase means roughly "even in hard ...
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468 views

Is this Latin statement idiomatic? (Can't quite link it to the English translation)

Consider the Bible verse 1 Corinthians 1:25. There are varied English translations of this verse (see here). The two most common are: For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of ...
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How to order someone to want something?

I asked yesterday about the imperative of velle, and it turned out that does not really have an imperative. If the most obvious option is not available, how should I give an order to want? A phrase or ...
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Meaning of “supra se servitium”

Background In the TV series Fallet, some of the upper class of the fictional town of Norbacka use the phrase supra se servitium as a sort of salutation. Its meaning is never elaborated upon. My ...

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