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.

Nisi utile est quod facimus stulta est gloriae.
Unless what we do is useful, glory is foolish.

Said to be from Julius Phaedous c. 15 B.C. - A.D. 45 (born in Thrace and lived as a freedman in Rome and wrote fables which are considered by some to be superior to Aesop's).

This proverb is engraved in stone above the fireplace at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, North Carolina; as confirmed in an e-mail message from Grove Park Inn, dated 10 June 2002.

The quotation is also interpreted to mean: "If what we do is not useful, it is stupid to boast about it."

nocte; noct
At night.

A medical term used in prescriptions.

nolens, volens
Whether willing or not.

Literally, "being unwilling, willing". This refers to anyone who does something he/she really does not want to do, but does it nolens, volens. Sometimes the phrase is used to mean "willy-nilly" or "hap-hazardly".

Noli intrare.
Keep out.
Noli me tangere.
Do not touch me or Touch me not.
Noli perturbare.
Do not disturb.
Nolo contendere.
I do not wish to contest the suit.

Another translation version is, "I do not want to contend." A plea entered in law by the defendant that subjects the person to a judgment of conviction; by so doing the defendant does not necessarily admit guilt, but also declares that he/she will not offer any defence. The defendant may then be declared guilty, yet retain the right to deny the validity of that finding in related proceedings.

When a defendant pleads nolo contendere, he/she neither admits guilt nor proclaims innocence and so avoids negative publicity that would occur in an actual trial.

Nomina stultorum parietibus haerent.
Fools' names stick to the walls [of buildings].

A reference to graffiti, as in

Fools' names, like fools' faces,
Are always found in public places.
—Anonymous
Nomine digna. (Latin motto)
Translation: "May it be worthy of the name."

Motto of the former African country of Rhodesia.

Non assumpsit.
He has not undertaken.

The legal term for a plea denying a promise or undertaking.

Non bis in idem.
Not twice for the same thing.

This expression is about double jeopardy in the courts. It could also be a child's defense against further punishment by his/her father after being punished by her/his mother.

Non compos mentis (adjective) (no comparatives)
Translation: "Not of sound mind"

Said of a lunatic, idiot, drunkard, or one who has lost his or her memory and understanding by accident or as a result of a disease.

Non compos mentis is the legal expression used for any form of mental unsoundness. See compos mentis for the opposite condition.

Not of sound mind.
© ALL rights are reserved.

Not legally responsible because of a mental problem.
© ALL rights are reserved.

Go to this Word A Day Revisited Index
so you can see more of Mickey Bach's cartoons.

Non culpabilis.
Not guilty.

A legal verdict exonerating a person who has been on trial.

Non erat his locus.
That was not the place for these things.

Also translated as, "That was inappropriate."

non est inventus; non est
Not to be found.

These are the words that the sheriff writes on a writ when the defendant is not to be found in his bailiwick (area of legal responsibility).


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