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.

Acheruntis pabulum.
Food of Acheron.

Food for the gallows; applied to those who are thought to be deserving of execution.

Acheruns [Acheron] was one of seven rivers said to flow around Hell. Anyone adjudged sufficiently evil may be said to be Acheruntis pabulum, or “food of Acheron”.

acta (pl) (noun)
Deeds: The term acta was used in ancient Rome to refer to an account of actions or achievements.
Acta est fabula. (Latin statement)
Translation: "The drama has been acted out" or "The play is over."

Acta est fabula was used at the close of a dramatic performance in the ancient Roman theater.

Acta est fabula are said to be the dying words of Emperor Caesar Augustus.

The maxim, Acta est fabula may be appropriately spoken whenever a life or an unfolding event comes to an unhappy end or is simply concluded.

acta sanctorum (Latin term)
Translation: "Deeds of the saints."

The acta sanctorum involves the lives of the Christian martyrs and saints that are used in teaching the faith.

Actum est. (Latin statement)
Translation: "It is done."

"It is over or finished."


A term that refers to dramatic sequences.

actus curiae
Act of the court.

Used in law.

actus Dei
Act of God.

More literally, a “driving” or the “moving forward of God”. Used in legal terminology to refer to any phenomena; such as, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, falling trees, hail storms, etc.

The greatest of all perplexities in theology has been to reconcile the infinite goodness of God with his omnipotence. Nothing puts a greater strain upon the faith of the common man than the existence of utterly irrational suffering in the universe.
—Walter Lippmann
Actus non facit reum nisi mens est rea.
The act does not make a criminal unless the intention is criminal.

A legal maxim.

actus purus
Pure act.

Thomas Aquinas’ conception of God as pure act, without matter or form.

acus (s) (noun), acuses (pl)
A needle: a needlelike instrument: The acus Dr. Fiske had was for sewing up the wound following the surgical operation.
acyrologia (Greek)
An improper use of a word.

An overly delicate euphemism, as, for example, the 19th century prudish avoidance of mentioning a chicken’s breast or leg by saying “white meat” and “dark meat”.

ad absurdum (adverb), more ad absurdum, most ad absurdum
A reference to how an argument demonstrates the ridiculousness of an opponent's proposition: Timothy tried to explain his line of reasoning to the others in the meeting, but it led to ad absurdum, because, as much as he tried to demonstrate his intention, they were all of a different opinion and didn't understand the obvious truth and sound judgment of the issue.
ad annum (Latin phrase)
Up to the year.

Used to indicate a specific year date.

ad- appears in this form before a vowel and before the consonants d, h, j, m, and v. It is simplified to a- before sc, sp and st.

Before c, f, g, l, n, p, q, r, s, and t; ad- is changed to ac-, af-, ag-, al-, an-, ap-, aq-, ar-, as-, and at-.

In other words, the d of ad usually changes into the same letter as the first letter of the following root or word when it is a consonant: ad-fix becomes affix, and ad-sign becomes assign; therefore, making a double consonant.

Another example includes: attract as with ad-tract (drawn towards); so it has a double t. On the other hand when ad- precedes a vowel, as with adapt, it is simply ad-apt, with one d. For the same reason, there is only one d in adore and adumbrate, because ad- has combined with orare and umbra each of which starts with a vowel.

So, remember: since these Latin words begin with vowels and not consonants, the d of ad does not double as shown in the previous examples.

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