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.

Acheruntis pabulum.
Food of Acheron.

Food for the gallows; applied to those who are thought to be deserving of execution.

Acheruns [Acheron] was one of seven rivers said to flow around Hell. Anyone adjudged sufficiently evil may be said to be Acheruntis pabulum, or “food of Acheron”.

acta (pl) (noun)
Deeds: The term acta was used in ancient Rome to refer to an account of actions or achievements.
Acta est fabula. (Latin statement)
Translation: "The drama has been acted out" or "The play is over."

Acta est fabula was used at the close of a dramatic performance in the ancient Roman theater.

Acta est fabula are said to be the dying words of Emperor Caesar Augustus.

The maxim, Acta est fabula may be appropriately spoken whenever a life or an unfolding event comes to an unhappy end or is simply concluded.

acta sanctorum (Latin term)
Translation: "Deeds of the saints."

The acta sanctorum involves the lives of the Christian martyrs and saints that are used in teaching the faith.

Actum est. (Latin statement)
Translation: "It is done."

"It is over or finished."


A term that refers to dramatic sequences.

actus curiae
Act of the court.

Used in law.

actus Dei
Act of God.

More literally, a “driving” or the “moving forward of God”. Used in legal terminology to refer to any phenomena; such as, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, falling trees, hail storms, etc.

The greatest of all perplexities in theology has been to reconcile the infinite goodness of God with his omnipotence. Nothing puts a greater strain upon the faith of the common man than the existence of utterly irrational suffering in the universe.
—Walter Lippmann
Actus non facit reum nisi mens est rea.
The act does not make a criminal unless the intention is criminal.

A legal maxim.

actus purus
Pure act.

Thomas Aquinas’ conception of God as pure act, without matter or form.

A needle.

A needle or needlelike instrument.

acyrologia (Greek)
An improper use of a word.

An overly delicate euphemism, as, for example, the 19th century prudish avoidance of mentioning a chicken’s breast or leg by saying “white meat” and “dark meat”.

Up to; so as to make; used in medicine.
ad absurdum (adverb), more ad absurdum, most ad absurdum
A reference to an argument demonstrating the ridiculousness of an opponent's proposition: "To what is absurd; to the point absurdity or inconsistent with obvious truth, reason, or sound judgment."
ad annum
Up to the year.

Used to indicate a specific year date.

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