Latin Proverbs, Sayings
and Set Expressions



Despite the fact that Latin is considered to be a dead language, Latin proverbs, sayings and set expressions are widely used in different languages of the world.

I did a quick research to see which Latin sayings and proverbs are commonly used in the English, Russian and Ukrainian languages. The results of the research are presented below.

Each proverb in Latin is accompanied by equivalent Ukrainian, Russian and English proverbs. Not all Ukrainian, Russian and English proverbs listed here are literal (word-for-word) translations of the Latin proverbs. Some of them have been selected because they have a meaning close or similar to that of Latin proverbs and sayings.

Latin proverbs, sayings and set expressions

  1. Achilleus calx (a weak point)
    • English: Achilles' heel
    • Russian: ахиллесова пята (Achilles' heel)
    • Ukrainian: ахіллесова п'ята (Achilles' heel)

  2. Sic et non (yes and no)
    • English: May be rain or may be snow, may be yes or may be no
    • Russian: Бабушка надвое сказала (the grandmother sad with a double meaning)
    • Ukrainian: Казала Настя: як удасться (Nastia says: it depends)

  3. Ars longa, vita brevis (art is long, life is short)
    • English: Art is long, life is short
    • Russian: Жизнь коротка, искусство вечно (life is short, art is eternal)
    • Ukrainian: Життя коротке, мистецтво вічне (life is short, art is eternal)

  4. Cogito, ergo sum (I think, therefore I am)
    • English: I think, therefore I am
    • Russian: Я мыслю, следовательно, существую (I think, therefore I am)
    • Ukrainian: Я мислю, отже, я існую (I think, therefore I am)

  5. Contra spem spero (I hope against hope)
    • English: To hope against hope
      Hope is a good breakfast, but it is a bad supper
    • Russian: Без надежды надеюсь (I hope against hope)
    • Ukrainian: Без надії сподіваюсь (I hope against hope)

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  6. Dum spiro, spero (while I breathe, I hope)
    • English: As long as I breathe, I hope
    • Russian: Пока дышу – надеюсь (while I breathe, I hope)
    • Ukrainian: Доки дихаю – сподіваюсь (while I breathe, I hope)

  7. Homo homini lupus est (man is a wolf to man)
    • English: Dog eats dog
      The great fish eat the small
    • Russian: Человек человеку волк (man is a wolf to man)
    • Ukrainian: Людина людині вовк (man is a wolf to man)

  8. Errare humanum est (man is prone to error)
    • English: It's human to err
    • Russian: Человеку свойственно ошибаться (man is prone to error)
    • Ukrainian: Людині властиво помилятись (man is prone to error)

  9. In vino veritas (the truth is in wine)
    • English: The truth is in wine
      Wine is in truth is out
    • Russian: Истина в вине (the truth is in wine)
      Что у трезвого на уме, то у пьяного на языке (what the sober man thinks, the drunkard reveals)
    • Ukrainian: Істина в вині (the truth is in wine)
      Що у тверезого на думці, те у п’яного на язиці (what the sober man thinks, the drunkard reveals)

  10. Momento mori! (remember you will die)
    • English: Remember death
    • Russian: Помни о смерти (remember you will die)
      Momento mori (this Latin phrase is so popular in Russian that it is often used without translation)
    • Ukrainian: Пам'ятай про смерть (remember you will die)

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  11. Per aspera ad astra (through the thorns to the stars)
    • English: Through the thorns/hardships to the stars
    • Russian: Через тернии к звездам (through the thorns to the stars)
    • Ukrainian: Тернистим шляхом до зірок (through thorny path to the stars)

  12. Qui pro quo ( 1) confusion; 2) something for something)
    • English: Quite another story
    • Russian: Из другой оперы (from the other opera)
    • Ukrainian: З іншої опери (from the other opera)

  13. Repetitio est mater studiorum (repeating is the mother of learning)
    • English: Repeating is the mother of learning
    • Russian: Повторение - мать учения (repeating is the mother of learning)
    • Ukrainian: Повторення - мати начання (repeating is the mother of learning)

  14. Sic transit gloria mundi (thus passes the glory of the world)
    • English: Thus passes the glory of the world
    • Russian: Так проходит мирская слава (thus passes the glory of the world)
    • Ukrainian: Так минає земна слава (thus passes the glory of the world)

  15. Tertium non datur (there is no third option)
    • English: Time has come to choose between to be or not to be
      Any road runs two ways
    • Russian: Третьего не дано (there is no third option)
    • Ukrainian: Третього не дано (there is no third option)

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