Latin Proverbs, Mottoes, Phrases, and Words: Group N

(classical-language maxims, slogans, adages, proverbs, and words of wisdom that can still capture our modern imagination)

Expressions of general truths: Latin to English maxims, proverbs, and mottoes

Word entries are from Latin unless otherwise indicated.

mare nostrum
Our sea: name for the Mediterranean to the ancient Romans.

A navigable body of water, such as a sea, that is under the jurisdiction of one nation or that is shared by two or more nations.

Nam et ipsa scientia potestas est.
For knowledge, too, is itself power; knowledge is power.
Nascentes morimur finisque ab origine pendet. (Latin proverb)
Translation: "From the moment of birth, we begin to die and the end hangs from the beginning."

An alternate meaning: "Every day, starting from birth, we die a little."

Naturam primum cognoscere rerum. (Latin motto)
Translation: "First to learn the nature of things."

Another version is "Above all to find out the way things are." A motto of the Australian National University, Canberra, Australia.

Ne incautus futuri.
Not incautious of the future.

Motto of the Hagerstown Business College, USA.

ne plus ultra
Not more beyond.

The limit, perfection, highest point, or peak of achievement or excellence; the pinnacle, the ultimate. The most profound degree of a quality or condition.

Although the literal sense of the phrase makes it possible to be used as a term expressing prohibition, in the sense of "no further may you go", its primary use indicates the supremacy of a product, a literary work, a system, etc.

Ne prius antidotum quam venenum.
Not the antidote before the poison.

A modern version might be, "Don't try to cure or solve anything before it is necessary."

Ne puero gladium.
Don't give a sword to a boy.
ne quid nimis
Nothing in excess.
Ne ultra.
Nothing beyond.

Motto of Davidson College, Davidson, North Carolina, USA.

nec pluribus impar
Not unequal to most.

This motto, also interpreted to mean "a match for anyone", is attributed to Louis XIV of France, who used the sun as his emblem and was known as Le Roi Soleil, "the sun king".

This is an example of a litotes, a deliberate understatement in which an affirmative thought is expressed by stating the negative of the contrary thought; also, as in the sentence, "I am not unmindful of your devotions".

nefasti dies
Unlucky days.

Certain days in the Roman religious calendar were nefasti dies, in which no official business was allowed to be conducted.

nemine contradicente; nem. con.
No one contradicting.

Unanimously.

Nemo debet bis puniri pro uno delicto.
No one ought to be punished twice for one offense.

No one shall be placed in peril (jeopardy) of legal penalties more than once upon the same accusation.

Double jeopardy is forbidden in the United States constitution and protects against a second prosecution for the same offense after acquittal or conviction and against multiple punishments for the same offense.

Nemo debet bis vexari [si constet curie quod sit] pro una et eadem causa.
No one ought to be twice troubled or harassed [if it appear to the court that it is] for one and the same cause.

No one can be sued a second time for the same cause of action, if once judgment has been rendered. No one can be held to bail a second time at the suit of the same plaintiff for the same cause of action.


Pointing to a page about a kleptomaniac Units of mottoes and proverbs listed by groups: A to X.