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

(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.

caput mundi (s) (noun), caput mundis (pl)
A reference to the head of the world or the center of the world: Caput mundi was a reference to imperial Rome which was carried over to the papacy in medieval times.

Those who to stir up enthusiasm for their hometowns may use caput mundi in the same way the Romans did; that is, Rome was considered the capital of the world.

It is lacking; there is a lacking; to be without.

A mark (an arrow pointing up from below the line: ^) in a line of writing used to show that something is omitted at that point; or in correcting a proof, to show where something is to be added. The missing letter, word, or words are written above the line or in the margin.

Caret initio et fine.
It lacks beginning and end.

A statement that can be used by an editor or a literary critic reviewing a poorly written product.


Motto of Briar Cliff College, Sioux City, Iowa, USA.

Carpe diem (KAHR pey dee" uhm), quam minimum credula postero. (Latin proverb)
Translation: "Seize or take advantage of the day and place no trust in tomorrow."

"Enjoy the present moment and don't depend on there being a tomorrow." -Horace

A continuing traditional theme in lyric poetry, dating back at least to Koheleth's "Eat, drink, and be merry" (based on Ecclesiastes 8:15). The phrase carpe diem exemplifies the spirit of hedonism and Epicureanism, i.e., the enjoyment of the moment and recognition of the transient nature of life.

So, carpe diem came from ancient times until the present with the advice often and variously expressed as: "Enjoy yourself while you have the chance"; "Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die"; "Make hay while the sun shines"; "Enjoy yourself, it's later than you think."

William Safire had a different attitude regarding carpe diem when he wrote: "Seize the day has come to mean ‘strike while the iron is hot.' No longer is carpe diem the what-the-hell attitude of the dwellers in the present; it has become the battle cry of the gutsy opportunist with an eye on the future."

Many famous poems develop this "live it up now" theme; such as , the following by Robert Herrick (1591-1674):

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying,
And this same flower that smiles today
Tomorrow will be dying.
Carpe diem poster.


Seize the day and place no trust in tomorrow.
Carpe noctem.
Seize (take advantage) of the night.

Take advantage of the night and place no trust in tomorrow.

Carpent tua poma nepotes.
Your grandsons (descendants) will gather your apples. —Virgil

"Plan for the future" or Virgil is telling us that hard work and careful management of our existing resources will extend to generations long after we are gone.

Cave ab homine unius libri.
Beware the man of [with] one book.

Be careful of the person who owns just one book.

Cave canem!
Beware of the dog!

An inscription found in a vestibule in the remains of Pompeii and now even on some modern gates; especially, in europe.

Cave tibi cane muto, aqua silente. (Latin expression)
Translation: "Beware of the silent dog and still water."

A Latin idiom: "Stagnant water can poison you." "Silent dogs can bite." Some Romans believed that taciturn (uncommunicative) adversaries were more dangerous than the ones who made a lot of noise.


Look out, be careful!

Caveat lector.
Reader, beware (or take heed).

That’s good advice regardless of what you are reading.

Caveat venditor.
Let the seller beware.

Caveat emptor has a long history in common law, caveat venditor is just now coming into prominence as a result of the consumer-rights movement. Under caveat venditor, the seller is assumed to be more sophisticated than the purchaser and so must bear responsibility for protecting the unwary purchaser.

Cedant arma togae.
Let arms yield to the gown.

State motto on the territorial seal of Wyoming, U.S.A.; written by Cicero.

Cedunt horae, opera manent. (Greek)
The hours go by, the works remain.

Inscription above the clock on the West facade of Brookings Hall Washington University; St. Louis, Missouri, USA.

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