Questions tagged [idiom]

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

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1answer
266 views

What is "idiom" in classical Latin?

What would be an idiomatic way to say "idiom" and "idiomatic" in classical Latin? One could perhaps use the Greek loan word idiōma (neuter), but I feel there should be a more Latin way of ...
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564 views

"Ladies and gentlemen"

Is there a Latin phrase that could be used like "ladies and gentlemen" when addressing a large audience but without commenting the circumstances or identities of the people involved? In special cases ...
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128 views

Use of "in" with ablative

I'm hoping someone can clarify the meaning of the medieval Latin phrase "in ipsa" when referring to a decision or action not being "in" or "upon" someone, which I assume ...
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244 views

Translating "God knows how much/long" and similar

Consider these examples: Mr. Johnson has been the janitor for God knows how long. Right behind this park is the new bridge that cost God knows how much. You can replace "God knows how" ...
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1k views

Reservoir Dogs: "Let's go to work" in Latin

I'm a programmer and I regularly write small utility programs for friends and family. Since I like a joke, all those programs have help/about forms that describe the program as having been produced by ...
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1answer
131 views

Which preposition should be used with contrario and why?

Is it better to say argumentum a/ab contrario or e/ex contrario? It seems that both are acceptable but in most Romance languages it is a contrario. The movement out/from is not clear/explicit/graphic ...
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1answer
161 views

Meaning of "vulgo voces"

Is "vulgo voces" an expression with a particular meaning? I have encountered it in an early 18th century text. The full text is: Equidem vulgo voces Thermometrum & Thermoscopium pro synonymis ...
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596 views

What's the difference between *quisquis* and *quicumque*?

Quisquis and quicumque are both described as indefinite (or generic) relative pronouns, and are both defined in dictionaries as "whoever, everyone who...". Is there any difference at all between the ...
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481 views

"Explaining oneself" in Classical Latin

How should I say in Classical Latin the following phrases? "Explain yourself!" "I didn't explain myself well", "I didn't make myself / wasn't clear" I've been thinking of the verbs explico and ...
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321 views

How might I write a latin phrase for swapping bodies?

Putting together a small literary piece where an item is inscribed with a Latin phrase that hints that it can be used to swap bodies (or minds, depending, I suppose, on your perspective) with another ...
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96 views

"Ad populum" idiom

Is "ad populum" ever seen as an idiom for "popular", or can it only mean "to the people"? For example, if something is considered popular, would "ad populum" be an acceptable phrase to use?
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How to parse "semper eadem" grammatically?

The phrase semper eadem, "always the same", is a fairly popular motto. It is easy enough to interpret semantically, but I could not convince myself about the exact grammatical interpretation of the ...
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351 views

How to burn one's bridges in Latin?

If you leave a situation or a job in a way that makes you unwelcome to return ever again, you can be said to burn your bridges in English. Is there an idiom in classical Latin for irrevocably ...
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279 views

What is the source of the Greek phrase πύξ, λάξ, δάξ?

πύξ, λάξ, δάξ "by punching, kicking, and biting" is described by Wikipedia as an "epigram describing how laypersons were chased away from the Eleusinian Mysteries". Where is this ...
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146 views

Do any Latin authors preserve Etruscan quotations?

Many Latin and a few Greek phrases are now used in English, even by people who don't necessarily know the original language, as proverbs, phrases, mottos, and so on. Many short fragments from ancient ...
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61 views

Roman wedding congratulations

How did the Romans congratulate a couple on their wedding day? The concepts of wedding and marriage were not quite what they are now back then, but I assume that celebrations and congratulations were ...
7
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912 views

Meaning of "quod si"

I'm having trouble with quod sī. L&S offers, under the definition of quod, With other particles, as si, nisi, utinam, ubi, etc., always with reference to something which precedes (very freq.), ...
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4answers
505 views

How to say "as" emphatically?

Consider the sentence "Marcus spoke as a manager". Imagine that Marcus was speaking at a company event, and he gave his speech as a manager, not as a coworker — as a representative of the ...
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3answers
3k views

Where does the phrase "mors omnia solvit" come from?

A couple of years ago I stumbled across the phrase "mors omnia solvit", and I got the impression that it was a rather well establihed saying. Now I started to research the source of this phrase (for ...
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3answers
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Expression warning that some things can't be easily undone and one might want to think about this a while longer?

For example, a tattoo can semi-permanently mark two people, indicating their relationship. Human relationships and individual behavior are unpredictable compared to the permanence of tattoos. Of ...
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2answers
1k views

How to say "I regret to inform you that"?

How to express the following sentence in Latin? I am after a good choice of structure, not a literal translation. "I regret to inform you that our old teacher has died." My suggestion is Doleo te ...
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4answers
336 views

"Over promise under perform" motto

As this is the time when we're all coming up with wacky mottos, I thought I'd try my hand at our department's private motto. Having run a few variants through Google Translate, and coming out with a ...
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3answers
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Is there a Latin expression to say the "exact opposite of something/someone"?

Consider the following English sentence: Clark Kent is the alter ego of Superman The latter uses a Latin expression, alter ego, meaning the "other self". Now, consider this sentence: ...
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748 views

How can I roll up my sleeves in Latin?

Is there a Latin idiom for preparing for work? In English one can roll up one's sleeves, and the corresponding expression has the same meaning in Finnish. I doubt a direct translation of this idiom ...
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116 views

Preparing food "al dente"

Is there a Latin idiom for food that is cooked just right (not too much, not too little), similar to the popular Italian phrase "al dente"? I doubt the direct translation denti or ad dentem makes any ...
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3answers
1k views

How to phrase "I like the way you think" in Latin?

Is there a concise way to phrase "I like the way you think" in Latin? I can find ways to say this, but everything I could think of is a little unwieldy compared to the English. For example, I might ...
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123 views

Were there proverbs in Latin in the sense detailed by this question of mine?

Endless bits of wisdom from canonical writers have come down to us as Latin dicta: a sort of Ancient proverbs, if you will, with the notable exception that these were, unlike modern, post-Antiquity ...
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893 views

How to say "don't rock the boat" in Latin?

A friend is interested in conveying the sense of "don't rock the boat", but in Latin. Is there an equivalent saying in Latin, or a phrase which would convey the correct meaning?
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421 views

How does "quid causae" work grammatically?

I do not understand the grammar of quid causae = "[for] what cause", as in Nescio quid causae fuerit, cur nullas ad me litteras dares I do not know what the reason was why you sent me no ...
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2answers
269 views

When did Latin mottoes first appear?

Latin mottos have been popular in Europe for centuries, but I have never seen anything comparable to a motto from the Roman era. When did first Latin mottos appear? (Examples of individual early ...
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196 views

Best translation for 'at sea'

What is the best way of translating 'at sea'? For example, "The sailors fought bravely at sea". The translation 'in mari' seems the closest to me, as opposed to the literal 'ad mare' and treatment ...
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778 views

How to say "Happy Sabbath"

In our community we use to say "Happy Sabbath" or "Have a Blessed Sabbath" which have the same sense like "Shabbat Shalom", regarding to Saturday as the day of rest. What ...
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270 views

Ending a letter in Latin

Salvete, How would I sign my name at the end of a letter in Latin? Would the Nominative (Paulus) case be the normal way? Or do I need the ablative (Paulō) to imply "from/by Paulus"? Gratias vobis ...
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A classical Latin phrase for "all or nothing"

Is there a saying in classical Latin similar to "all or nothing"? I am aware of aut Caesar aut nihil, and that would be fine if it was classical. In most cases the era of origin is irrelevant, but I ...
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1answer
130 views

Is it idiomatic Latin to paraphrase a condition using an imperative plus a future indicative?

In English, there's a common construction which consists of two coordinated clauses, the first with an imperative verb, the second with a future-tense verb: Take the first left and you'll find my ...
6
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1answer
360 views

Where and when does the "Delphinum natare doces" proverb originate from?

The first occurrence of "Delphinum natare doces" I could find is in Erasmus' Adagia, after year 1500. Due to the nature of this book, the proverb itself must be much older than that. Where and when ...
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201 views

Is there a Latin construction for a tentative question/suggestion analogous to "I wonder [question word]"?

At first, I thought "me rogo," but the dictionary did not confirm my suggestion. I think my German is interfering ("ich frage mich").
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279 views

Quōmodo verba "in my opinion" Latīnē loquī?

In colloquial English (particularly in online discourse) the phrase "in my opinion" (often abbreviated as "imo/IMO") is quite common. I am wondering how one might express this in an idiomatic manner ...
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313 views

Quomodo in Latinum vertitur "alternative facts"?

How would you translate "alternative facts" into Latin, in the sense used infamously today by Kellyanne Conway? My first thought is res ad libitum but that too strongly suggests making up facts willy-...
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1answer
180 views

How to wear unusual clothing?

If I wear a toga, I can say toga me vestio/induo or toga vestior/induor or I could use the adjective togatus. For normal clothing it is clear what it means when I say that I wear it. I do not know, ...
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975 views

Is "The beginning is half of every action" truly a Greek proverb?

I found in a book from 2015 a box with the quote: The beginning is half of every action. (Greek proverb) I googled it and there are many "pop websites" with the same quote. But none with a ...
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93 views

Adding translation of "potential" to "ad infinitum"

The phrase "ad infinitum" is often used in texts that are otherwise non-Latin. I would like to use a variation of this phrase in an English text. In philosophy of mathematics there is a distinction, ...
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1answer
135 views

How do I negate an ut clause of result?

Ut clauses of result are excellent for saying "so ___ that". But what if I wanted to reverse this and say "not ___ enough to"? For example, tam strenue laborābam ut epistolās centum scripserim means "...
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197 views

How to phrase "it took two hours"?

In English or Finnish I can express the time it took to complete something in two ways, but in Latin only one: E: "I did it in two hours." F: "Tein sen kahdessa tunnissa." L: Duabus horis id perfeci. ...
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128 views

How would one convey "a snowball's chance in hell" in Latin?

As a good pessimist, I frequently wish to humorously convey extremely low probabilities. I'll often use the phrase "a snowball's chance in hell," or a variation of it, to express this: ...
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5k views

How do I welcome someone in Latin?

When someone comes to visit me at my villa, I would like to greet them and welcome them in. I know how to welcome English ("welcome"), German ("wilkommen"), and French ("bienvenue") guests in a single ...
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178 views

Looking a gift horse in the mouth

A common phrase for mistrust towards a given gift is looking a gift horse in the mouth. As explained in Wiktionary (linked above), the saying goes back to the New Testament via St. Jerome's Latin ...
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260 views

An idiom for disclosing a secret

I am looking for a Latin idiom for disclosing a secret. In English one can spill the beans, but I am not aware of a similar idiom in Latin. Is any idiom or colorful expression for this attested in ...

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