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

(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.

Audemus jura nostra defendere. (motto)
Translation: "We dare defend or maintain our rights."

State motto of Alabama, U.S.A. This may be calling attention to the state's dedication to protecting its rights against infringement by the federal government.

Audi alteram partem.
Hear the other side.

Also, "There are two sides to every question"; a plea for reason and fairness in discussions.

aura popularis
The popular breeze.

Cicero's expression for the public's favorite at a particular time; also translated as, "Temporary celebrity".

aurea mediocritas
The golden mean.

Another meaning is "moderation in all things" which is interpreted as a willingness to live out one's days without taking great risks or without indulging in excesses. Horace, in his Odes, is said to mean, "Who loves the golden mean is safe from the poverty of a hovel and free from the envy of a palace."

aureo hamo piscari
To fish with a golden hook.

This motto recognizes the persuasiveness of money. It is similar to Auro quaeque ianus panditur (A golden key opens any door); which translates literally as, "Any door is opened by means of gold."

auri sacra fames (Latin saying)
Translation: "The cursed hunger for gold."

Those who live only to acquire wealth are characterized by Virgil as having auri sacra fames, or of being "money-mad".

auribus teneo lupum
I'm holding a wolf by the ears.

Similar to "I have a tiger by the tail."

Anytime a person is facing a problem for which there is no known solution, he or she could say: "Auribus teneo lupum, I am convinced that it isn't possible to hold on forever and I can't let go because either action will leave me at the mercy of the 'beast' or terrible situation I am in."

Aurora
Goddess of the morning.

In Roman mythology, Aurora was responsible for such duties as extinguishing stars at the end of night. She is known today primarily in the terms aurora australis, the southern lights and aurora borealis, the northern lights.

aurora australis
Dawn of the southern wind, the southern lights.
aurora borealis
Dawn of the northern wind, the northern lights.
Aut disce aut discede.
Either learn or leave.

A good motto (among many mottoes) for any school that has serious educational principles, as well as being financially well endowed, so it can afford to enforce such a motto.

Aut non tentaris aut perfice.
Either don't attempt it or else finish it.

Also translated as, "Don't start anything you can't finish." Although it is a bad habit to leave things half completed, it is probably better to cease working on anything that will obviously result in failure.

Aut viam inveniam aut faciam.
I will either find a way or make one.

Also translated as, "Where there's a will there's a way." This motto is interpreted as being a credo of a person who is unwilling to admit defeat and so is determined to accomplish a goal.

Aut vincere aut mori.
Either to conquer or to die.

A Roman motto that may also be translated as, "Victory or death."

aut vitam aut culpam
For life or until misconduct.

Also translated as, "Just behave yourself." This advice is probably applicable to those who receive lifetime appointments and are therefore being warned that such an appointment is not intended to be entirely unconditional.


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