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

(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.

O lente, lente currite noctis equi!
O, run slowly, slowly, horses of the night!

Originally from Ovid's "Amore" (Liber I, XIII, Line 40: Lente currite noctis equi) with reference to horses pulling Time’s chariot, and he wants the night to stretch out so he can spend more time with his mistress. Later used in Dr. Faustus by Christopher Marlowe, metaphorically spoken by Faustus who is awaiting the appearance of Lucifer, who is expected to collect Faustus' soul when the clock strikes midnight.

The basis of the Faust story is that Faustus sold his soul to the Devil in return for twenty-four years of further life during which he was to have every pleasure and all knowledge at his command; but, then he had to surrender his soul to Lucifer. At eleven o'clock, the last hour of his life, Faustus tried to conceive of every way to escape hell. For one thing, he commanded the sun to stay still, so that the hour would not pass; as seen in O lente, lente currite noctis equi!.

obiter dictum (s) (noun); obiter dicta (pl)
In law, an expression of opinion on a matter of law, given by a judge in court in the course of either an argument or a judgment, but not forming an essential part of the reasons determining the decision, and therefore not a legally binding authority: "Generally, obiter dictum means anything said as an incidental statement or remark made by a judge and is not part of a final decision."

"When an obiter dictum is stated by a judge, it can be an opinion that may have some influence over the jury and the lawyers present; so, it is an opinion based on experience and wisdom but which has not been thoroughly researched, is not entered into a judgment, and so it has no legal force."

obituary; obiit. obit. (noun); obituaries; obiits. obits. (pl)
1. An article that is published about the life of a person who has recently died: Henry saw his friend's obituary in the local newspaper that morning which revealed his many achievements in the town before he passed away.
2. A death list or an inscription found on tombstones and in church records: Obiit is found on many tombstones, abbreviated as "ob.": "nasc. 1901, ob. 1933"; and the English word obituary comes from this Latin element.

3. Etymology: from 1706, "register of deaths"; from Middle Latin obituarius, "a record of the death of a person"; literally, "pertaining to death", from Latin obitus, "departure, a going to meet, an encounter" (a euphemism for "death"); from the stem of obire, "to go, to meet"; such as, in mortem obire "to meet death"; from ob, "to, toward" + ire, "to go".

Since the Latin verb obire means "to go to" or "to go over"; it is thought to be a reference to the River Styx and certainly it is no less euphemistic than our modern expression "to pass over".

A death notice that is usually in a newspaper.
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A notification of death; especially, with a biographical sketch.
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Obstupui, steteruntque comae, et vox faucibus haesit. (Latin)
Translation: "I was stupefied, and my hair stood on end, and my voice stuck to my throat."

A description of the physical effects of fear, from Virgil's Aeneid; with an equivalent meaning of, "I was scared stiff."

Occasionem cognosce. (Latin proverb)
Translation: "Recognize opportunity."

Another translation: "Strike while the iron is hot."

odium (s) (noun), odiums (pl)
A state or condition of being extremely disgusting or contemptible in behavior: There is an odium of hatred by Jane for Manfred because he revealed private information to other people about her.
A loathing in which there is an intense dislike.
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Omnem movere lapidem. (Latin proverb)
1. "To move every stone."
2. "To leave no stone unturned."

By extension: "Keep trying to do your best when working on a project or an enterprise."

omnes ceterae res
All the others.
Omnia aliena sunt tempus tantum nostrum est.
Nothing is ours except time.
Omnia Omnibus Ubique.
All Things for All People Everywhere.

Motto of Harrods's Department Store (of London).

Omnia vincit amor.
Love conquers everything.
Omnis cognitio fit a sensibus. (Latin proverb)
"All knowledge comes through the senses." -Lucretius
Omnium autem rerum, ex quibus aliquid acquiritur, nihil est agri cultura melius, nihil uberius, nihil dulcius, nihil homini libero dignius. (Latin motto)
Translation: "Of all the occupations in which gain is secured, none is better than agriculture, none more profitable, none more delightful, none more becoming to a freeman."

This motto, written by Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 B.C.), is also reproduced in a shorter version in the entrance foyer of the Museum of Hungarian Agriculture: Nihil melius nihil homine libero dignius, quam agricultura.

opere citato, op.cit.
In the work cited.
opere in mendio
In the midst of work.

This phrase could be useful when you are interrupted by the phone and you respond with, "Hello, you just caught me opere in medio." Pronounced as [AW puh ruh in MEH dee oh].

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