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Latin in daily life

Couldn’t do any Duolingo this week (no internet on holiday) so I looked for examples of Latin in daily life. I spotted ‘Carpe noctem’ sprayed on a road bridge. Nice to know we’ve got some well educated vandals. I saw ‘Servitor servientium’ on a memorial to those who catered for service people in the war. On every coin in my purse is written an abbreviation for ‘Dei gratia Regina fidei defensatrix’. Has anyone else spotted any Latin?

July 19, 2020



I haven't actually learned much Latin. What does those sentences mean?


Seize the night. Servant of those who serve. By the grace of god Queen defender of the faith.


That's an interesting way of learning Latin. Now, I will certainly have a closer look on things around me.


A lot of our (US) coins have ē plūribus ūnum on them, which is often (I think) translated as "out of many into one." Notice that there's no "into" in the Latin: I think of it more as "One thing [ūnum is neuter nominative singular] from/out of quite a few." Notice that plūribus is the ablative form of the comparative degree (plūrēs, plūra) of the word "many" (multī, multae, multa); the same word that gives the superlative degree (plūrimī, plūrimae, plūrima) that we have such struggles over here, with the "very many" translations and so forth!

We also have Annuit coeptis on our dollar bill, on the reverse, around the pyramid; this means "He has nodded to [= assented to] the undertakings," which is language modeled on Vergil's Aeneid, where Aeneas' son appeals to Jupiter to 'nod to our undertakings' when he's about to fight for the first time in battle.

I learn (from Wikipedia!) that both ē plūribus ūnum and annuit coeptīs were significant to the Founders because they contain 13 letters, one for each of the original colonies. Apparently, a competitor phrase to annuit coeptīs was Deō favente , which could be rendered "with God being favorable" or "since God is favorable," "so long as God is favorable" (with the ambiguity there in the Latin construction, which is called the ablative absolute). But it doesn't have 13 letters!

There's also novus ordō seclōrum , "a new order/arrangement of the ages," representing idealistically the novelty, as they saw it, of our system of government. (seclōrum < saeculum, saeculī, n., age, generation, period of time; source of English "secular" used as a synonym of "temporal," as opposed to that which is eternal.)

These 3 Latin phrases appear on the Great Seal of the United States, both sides of which are represented on the reverse of the dollar bill. No Latin on the five dollar bill, though; and I don't have any higher denominations on me, at the moment!

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