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.

a posteriori
From effect to cause, from facts to generalizations, inductively [applied to reasoning].

A posteriori is a conclusion which is reached by examination and analysis of the specific facts, as happens in a science laboratory, where a person reasons from actual observation of data and comes to a conclusion from the observed facts. Contrasted with a priori.

A primo ad ultimum. (Latin motto)
Translation: "From first to last."
a priori (adjective), more a priori, most a priori
1. A reference to going from a general principle or conception to a particular effect or result.
2. Pertaining to something that happens in advance without previous investigation or experience.
2. Relating to something that is considered to be possible, but without an examination, analysis, or proof.
3. Etymology: from Medieval Latin, "from something that comes before or first"; Latin a-, ab-, "from, away from" + prior, "former".
a quo
From which.

Opposite of ad quem (for which; to whom).

a spe in spem
From hope to hope.
A verbis ad verbera. (Latin proverb)
Translation: "From words to blow."

Also translated as, "One thing leads to another."

Ab absurdo (Latin phrase)
1. From being ridiculous, irrational, incongruous, or illogical: When people argue ab absurdo, they are trying to establish the validity of their positions by pointing out the ridiculousness or foolishness of their opponents' arguments.

Although an argument ab absurdo "demolishes" an opponent's position in debate, it does not necessarily prove the validity of that person’s position. The only thing that may be accomplished is that the ab absurdo argument may make the other person seem to be foolish or illogical.

2. Etymology: Latin "from the absurd" or "from nonsense".
Ab abusu ad usum non valet consequentia. (Latin term)
Translation: "The consequences of abuse do not apply to general use."

Used by legal specialists and suggests that a right should not be withheld from people because of others who abuse it.

Ab actu ad posse valet illatio. (Latin term)
Translation: "Inference from what has happened to what will happen is valid."

The social worker was urged to consider ab actu ad posse valet illatio when assessing a case of potential child abuse.

Ab aeterno (Latin phrase)
Translation: "Since the beginning of time."

The audience was reminded that ab aeterno the hawks have nested on the cliffs near the lake.

Literally, "from eternity" or "of no date of origin".

Ab agendo (Latin phrase)
1. Translation: "Out of action."

The long distance runner was deemed ab agendo because of her broken leg.

2. Obsolete or retired: The farmer's old tractor was considered ab agendo and so it could only be sold as an antique.
Ab alio expectes, alteri quod feceris. (Latin term)
Translation: "Expect from others what you have done to them."

Prout multis ut faciant vobis homines, et vos facite illis similiter; "As you would that men should do to you, do you also to them in like manner." From Luke 6:31 of the Latin Vulgate, a Latin version of the Bible produced by Saint Jerome in the 4th century.

From Latin vulgata editio, "an edition made public" or "an edition for ordinary people" which is a version used by the Roman Catholic Church.

Ab ante (Latin phrase)
Translation: "From before or in advance."

Making up one’s mind ab ante.

Eric went to the train station ab ante of the train arriving at noon.

Ab antiquo (Latin phrase)
Translation: "From ancient times or from olden times."

Ab antiquo is useful for those who are always looking back to the good old days.

Dale enjoyed listening to the stories his grandmother told him ab antiquo.

Ab asino lanam (Latin phrase)
Literal translation: "Wool from an ass [donkey]."

The more modern meaning of ab asino lanam is "trying to get blood from a stone or a turnip" or "anyone who tries to achieve the impossible is bound to fail."

Trying to get Gretchen to change her mind about going to France was an exercise in ab asino lanam.


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