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.

ante cibum (s), ante cibos (pl)
Before a meal; usually, abbreviated a.c. in medical prescriptions, etc.
ante cibum; a.c.
Before food.

A direction on prescriptions indicating that medicine should be taken before meals.

ante diem, a.d.
Before the day.
ante meridiem; a.m.
Before noon.

Before the middle of the day or before noon (meridiem).

Used to designate the hours between midnight and noon (one second after 2400 hours and one second before 1200 hours?).

ante mortem
Before death.

Made or done just before one’s death.

ante res
Before things.
Ante victoriam ne canas triumphum.
Do not sing your triumph before the victory.

In other words, "Don't start bragging before the contest is over."

apothegm (APUH them)
Thing uttered.

An apothegm is a succinct, declarative saying that affirms a general truth or doctrine and tends to be more practical in nature than an aphorism: "Nobody, they say, is a hero to his valet" (Goethe).

It is also defined as a terse saying that embodies an important truth, e.g., "Haste makes waste."

aqua regia; aqua regalia (s) (noun)
1. Royal water: a fuming, highly corrosive mixture of nitric and hydrochloric acids.
2. Another term for nitrohydrochloric acid.

Called "royal water" because of its power to dissolve gold.

Aqua regia is used for testing metals and dissolving platinum and gold.

aqua; aq.; a., (s) (noun); aquae, (pl)

A reference to an aqueduct that was used to supply water to the city of Rome. During the Republic, aqueducts, and the water supplied, were cared for by water companies hired under contract by the censors.

This abbreviation (aq.) is used with several adjectives that have applications for medical or pharmaceutical instructions:

  • aq. astr. (aqua astricta), frozen water
  • aq. bull. (aqua bulliens), boiling water
  • aq. com. (aqua communis), common water
  • aq. dest. (aqua destillata), distilled water
  • aq. ferv. (aqua fervens), hot water
  • aq. frig. (aqua frigida), cold water
  • aq. mar. (aqua marina), sea water
  • aq. pluv. (aqua pluvialis), rain water
  • aq. pur. (aqua pura), pure water
  • aq. tep. (aqua tepida), tepid water
Arbitrio suo. (Latin phrase)
Translation: "On his or her own authority."
arcana coelestia
Celestial secrets.
Ardentia verba. (Latin phrase)
Translation: "Words that burn."
Arduus ad solem.
Lifted up to the sun.

Motto of the University of Manchester, Manchester, U.K.

argumenti causa; argumenti gratia
For the sake of argument.

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