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.
In the Roman calendar, the Calends meant the first day of the month. Since the Greeks did not have this term, the expression was used by the Romans to designate an event that would never occur.
Discussed in Suetonius' Lives of the Caesars: Augustus, chapter 87, section 1; in which Ad Calendas Graecas was explained to mean that the next day after never. Since the Greeks used no Kalends in their reckoning of time, the phrase was used about anything that could never take place.
Another Latin proverb with the same meaning: Paulo post futurum or "A little after the future."
An old English proverb that is similar says, "When two Sundays meet (come together)."
There is a French equivalent: L'arrest fera donné es prochaines Calendes Grecques. C'est à dire: iamais. (from Rabelais, Gargantua) "The judgment shall be given out at the next Greek Calends, that is, never."
This is usually shortened to ad lib. [with or without a period]. Ad lib is used both as a verb and as a noun.
When used in the entertainment world, to ad lib means to improvise, to add an impromptu word or statement to a script. As a noun, an ad lib is an "off-the-cuff", or unprepared, remark.
It is said that there are some politicians who have "carefully planned ad libs".
This applies to matters appropriate for papal consideration and disposition before the tombs of St. Peter and St. Paul. It is often abbreviated ad limina and is used in non-church situations to mean that a dispute must be settled by a higher authority.
Used in law as a decision that is taken as valid only for the action being adjudicated and is a reference, for instance, of a guardian appointed to represent someone incapable of acting for himself/herself during the court case.
At some place which is indicated.
Motto used by the Jesuit order (Society of Jesuits).
Sometimes the full expression is cited as the rationale for actions taken by Christians.
After the manner of.
Before one's eyes.
To the ancestors or to the dead. To go ad patres is to die; to send someone ad patres is to kill that person.
These words are traditionally used to open papal bulls.
Ad populum is intended for the ears of all the people, not just a limited or special few.