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

(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

All entries are from Latin unless otherwise indicated.

ex more
According to custom.
Ex nihilo nihil fit.
Nothing comes from nothing.

This Latin phrase is applied broadly and may suggest that a dull mind can not be expected to produce great thoughts. The first-century Roman poet, Lucretius, wrote in De Rerum Natura about the creation of the world in which he said, Nil posse creari de nilo, "Nothing can be created out of nothing."

Another version is also given as Ex nihilo nihil fit suggesting that every effect must have a cause or that the world, for example, could not have been made from nothing.

ex officio
By virtue of an office; by virtue of one's office.

Officers of an institution often serve on many of the organizations' committees, not because they have special qualifications that are needed on the committees, but because they hold certain offices in the organization. A chief executive officer of a corporation may be a member ex officio of all the important committees of that company.

ex post facto
Arising or enacted after the fact, retroactive.

An ex post facto law is one which sets a penalty for an act that was not illegal at the time it was performed. Such laws are forbidden by the United States Constitution.

Ex scientia tridens.
Translation: "Out of knowledge.".

Motto of the United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, USA.

ex ungue leonem
From a claw, the lion.

You may tell the lion by its claws or from a sample we can judge the whole.


Motto of the University of Tennessee at Martin, Martin, Tennessee, USA.


"Aim for higher things." This is the motto of the State of New York, USA.

excelsior (motto)

"Ever upward." It serves as the motto of the State of New York, USA.

excudit; excud.
He [or she] struck [this].

A printer or engraver's mark, "made by" [followed by the person's name], used to identify the person who executed, or completed, the work.

1. To clear from guilt.
2. To pronounce not guilty of criminal charges.

The prefix ex- means "out of" or "away from" and from the Latin noun culpa, meaning "blame"; so, exculpate means "to clear from guilt". A legal term used in the sense of "excuse" or "justification".

1. Clearing someone of guilt or blame.
2. Clearing or tending to clear someone from an alleged legal fault or guilt; excusing.
3. Applied to evidence which may justify or excuse an accused defendant's actions and which will tend to show the defendant is not guilty or has no criminal intent.
4. Etymology: from Middle Latin exculpatus, past particple of exculpare, from Latin ex culpa, from ex-, "from" + culpa, "blame".

Something exculpatory frees a person from accusations; in other words, exculpatory evidence helps to prove that an accused individual is not guilty.

exempli gratia; e.g.
For the sake of example.

Meaning, "for instance" or "for example"; only when giving an example to illustrate a point.

One should always precede this Latin abbreviation with a comma or a semicolon. It is used correctly to introduce an example, but incorrectly to mean "that is" which is id est = i.e.

"I have the laboratory equipment, e.g., [not i.e.] beakers, thermometers, and test tubes; which we need."

Don't end a list that starts with e.g. with etc. In other words, make sure all of the "examples" are listed.

Exempta juvat spiris e pluribus unus.
Better one thorn plucked than all remain.
They go out.

This is a common stage direction that characters leave the stage.

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