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Latin Pharses

\”a posteriori — from the latter; knowledge or justification is dependent on experience or empirical evidence a priori — from what comes before; knowledge or justification is independent of experience acta non verba — deeds, not words ad hoc — to this — improvised or made up ad hominem — to the man; below-the-belt personal attack rather than a reasoned argument ad honorem — for honor ad infinitum — to infinity ad nauseam — used to describe an argument that has been taking place to the point of nausea ad victoriam — to victory; more commonly translated into “for victory,” this was a battle cry of the Romans alea iacta est — the die has been cast alias — at another time; an assumed name or pseudonym alibi — elsewhere alma mater — nourishing mother; used to denote one’s college/university amor patriae — love of one’s country amor vincit omnia — love conquers all annuit cœptis –He (God) nods at things being begun; or “he approves our undertakings,” motto on the reverse of the Great Seal of the United States and on the back of the United States one-dollar bill ante bellum — before the war; commonly used in the Southern United States as antebellum to refer to the period preceding the American Civil War aqua vitae — water of life; used to refer to various native distilled beverages, such as whisky (uisge beatha) in Scotland and Ireland, gin in Holland, and brandy (eau de vie) in France arte et marte — by skill and valour astra inclinant, sed non obligant — the stars incline us, they do not bind us; refers to the strength of free will over astrological determinism audemus jura nostra defendere — we dare to defend our rights; state motto of Alabama audere est facere — to dare is to do audio — I hear aurea mediocritas — golden mean; refers to the ethical goal of reaching a virtuous middle ground between two sinful extremes auribus teneo lupum — I hold a wolf by the ears; a common ancient proverb; indicates that one is in a dangerous situation where both holding on and letting go could be deadly; a modern version is, “to have a tiger by the tail” aut cum scuto aut in scuto — either with shield or on shield; do or die, “no retreat”; said by Spartan mothers to their sons as they departed for battle aut neca aut necare — either kill or be killed aut viam inveniam aut faciam — I will either find a way or make one; said by Hannibal, the great ancient military commander barba non facit philosophum — a beard doesn’t make one a philosopher bellum omnium contra omnes — war of all against all bis dat qui cito dat — he gives twice, who gives promptly; a gift given without hesitation is as good as two gifts bona fide — good faith bono malum superate — overcome evil with good carpe diem — seize the day caveat emptor — let the buyer beware; the purchaser is responsible for checking whether the goods suit his need circa — around, or approximately citius altius forties — faster, higher, stronger; modern Olympics motto cogito ergo sum — “I think therefore I am”; famous quote by Rene Descartes contemptus mundi/saeculi — scorn for the world/times; despising the secular world, the monk or philosopher’s rejection of a mundane life and worldly values corpus christi — body of Christ corruptissima re publica plurimae leges — when the republic is at its most corrupt the laws are most numerous; said by Tacitus creatio ex nihilo — creation out of nothing; a concept about creation, often used in a theological or philosophical context cura te ipsum — take care of your own self; an exhortation to physicians, or experts in general, to deal with their own problems before addressing those of others curriculum vitae — the course of one’s life; in business, a lengthened resume de facto — from the fact; distinguishing what’s supposed to be from what is reality deo volente — God willing deus ex machina — God out of a machine; a term meaning a conflict is resolved in improbable or implausible ways dictum factum — what is said is done disce quasi semper victurus vive quasi cras moriturus — learn as if you’re always going to live; live as if tomorrow you’re going to die discendo discimus — while teaching we learn docendo disco, scribendo cogito — I learn by teaching, think by writing ductus exemplo — leadership by example ducunt volentem fata, nolentem trahunt — the fates lead the willing and drag the unwilling; attributed to Lucius Annaeus Seneca dulce bellum inexpertis — war is sweet to the inexperienced dulce et decorum est pro patria mori — it is sweet and fitting to die for your country dulcius ex asperis — sweeter after difficulties e pluribus unum — out of many, one; on the U.S. seal, and was once the country’s de facto motto emeritus — veteran; retired from office ergo — therefore et alii — and others; abbreviated et al. et cetera — and the others ex animo — from the heart; thus, “sincerely” ex libris — from the library of; to mark books from a library ex nihilo — out of nothing ex post facto — from a thing done afterward; said of law with retroactive effect faber est suae quisque fortunae — every man is the artisan of his own fortune; quote by Appius Claudius Caecus fac fortia et patere — do brave deeds and endure flectere si nequeo superos, acheronta movebo — if I cannot move heaven I will raise hell; from Virgil’s Aeneid fortes fortuna adiuvat — fortune favors the bold fortis in arduis — strong in difficulties gloria in excelsis Deo — glory to God in the highest habeas corpus — you should have the body; a legal term from the 14th century or earlier; commonly used as the general term for a prisoner’s right to challenge the legality of their detention habemus papam — we have a pope; used after a Catholic Church papal election to announce publicly a successful ballot to elect a new pope historia vitae magistra — history, the teacher of life; from Cicero; also “history is the mistress of life” hoc est bellum — this is war homo unius libri (timeo) — (I fear) a man of one book; attributed to Thomas Aquinas honor virtutis praemium — esteem is the reward of virtue hostis humani generis — enemy of the human race; Cicero defined pirates in Roman law as being enemies of humanity in general humilitas occidit superbiam — humility conquers pride igne natura renovatur integra — through fire, nature is reborn whole ignis aurum probat — fire tests gold; a phrase referring to the refining of character through difficult circumstances in absentia — in the absence in aqua sanitas — in water there is health in flagrante delicto — in flaming crime; caught red-handed, or in the act in memoriam — into the memory; more commonly “in memory of” in omnia paratus — ready for anything in situ — in position; something that exists in an original or natural state in toto — in all or entirely in umbra, igitur, pugnabimus — then we will fight in the shade; made famous by Spartans in the battle of Thermopylae and by the movie 300 in utero — in the womb in vitro — in glass; biological process that occurs in the lab incepto ne desistam — may I not shrink from my purpose intelligenti pauca — few words suffice for he who understands invicta — unconquered invictus maneo — I remain unvanquished ipso facto — by the fact itself; something is true by its very nature labor omnia vincit — hard work conquers all laborare pugnare parati sumus — to work, (or) to fight; we are ready labore et honore — by labor and honor leges sine moribus vanae — laws without morals [are] vain lex parsimoniae — law of succinctness; also known as Occam’s Razor; the simplest explanation is usually the correct one lex talionis — the law of retaliation magna cum laude — with great praise magna est vis consuetudinis — great is the power of habit magnum opus — great work; said of someone’s masterpiece mala fide — in bad faith; said of an act done with knowledge of its illegality, or with intention to defraud or mislead someone; opposite of bona fide malum in se — wrong in itself; a legal term meaning that something is inherently wrong malum prohibitum — wrong due to being prohibited; a legal term meaning that something is only wrong because it is against the law mea culpa — my fault meliora — better things; carrying the connotation of “always better” memento mori — remember that [you will] die; was whispered by a servant into the ear of a victorious Roman general to check his pride as he paraded through cheering crowds after a victory; a genre of art meant to remind the viewer of the reality of his death memento vivere — remember to live memores acti prudentes future — mindful of what has been done, aware of what will be modus operandi — method of operating; abbreviated M.O. montani semper liberi — mountaineers [are] always free; state motto of West Virginia morior invictus — death before defeat morituri te salutant — those who are about to die salute you; popularized as a standard salute from gladiators to the emperor, but only recorded once in Roman history morte magis metuenda senectus — old age should rather be feared than death mulgere hircum — to milk a male goat; to attempt the impossible multa paucis — say much in few words nanos gigantum humeris insidentes — dwarfs standing on the shoulders of giants; commonly known by the letters of Isaac Newton: “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants” nec aspera terrent — they don’t terrify the rough ones; frightened by no difficulties; less literally “difficulties be damned” nec temere nec timide — neither reckless nor timid nolo contendere — I do not wish to contend; that is, “no contest”; a plea that can be entered on behalf of a defendant in a court that states that the accused doesn’t admit guilt, but will accept punishment for a crime non ducor, duco — I am not led; I lead non loqui sed facere — not talk but action non progredi est regredi — to not go forward is to go backward non scholae, sed vitae discimus — we learn not for school, but for life; from Seneca non sequitur — it does not follow; in general, a comment which is absurd due to not making sense in its context (rather than due to being inherently nonsensical or internally inconsistent); often used in humor non sum qualis eram — I am not such as I was; or “I am not the kind of person I once was” nosce te ipsum — know thyself; from Cicero novus ordo seclorum — new order of the ages; from Virgil; motto on the Great Seal of the United States nulla tenaci invia est via — for the tenacious, no road is impassable obliti privatorum, publica curate — forget private affairs, take care of public ones; Roman political saying which reminds that common good should be given priority over private matters for any person having a responsibility in the State panem et circenses — bread and circuses; originally described all that was needed for emperors to placate the Roman mob; today used to describe any entertainment used to distract public attention from more important matters para bellum — prepare for war; if you want peace, prepare for war; if a country is ready for war, its enemies are less likely to attack parvis imbutus tentabis grandia tutus — when you are steeped in little things, you shall safely attempt great things; sometimes translated as, “once you have accomplished small things, you may attempt great ones safely” pater familias — father of the family; the eldest male in a family pecunia, si uti scis, ancilla est; si nescis, domina — if you know how to use money, money is your slave; if you don’t, money is your master per angusta ad augusta — through difficulties to greatness per annum — by the year per capita — by the person per diem — by the day per se — through itself persona non grata — person not pleasing; an unwelcome, unwanted or undesirable person pollice verso — with a turned thumb; used by Roman crowds to pass judgment on a defeated gladiator post mortem — after death postscriptum — thing having been written afterward; in writing, abbreviated P.S. praemonitus praemunitus — forewarned is forearmed praesis ut prosis ne ut imperes — lead in order to serve, not in order to rule primus inter pares — first among equals; a title of the Roman Emperors pro bono — for the good; in business, refers to services rendered at no charge pro rata — for the rate quam bene vivas referre (or refert), non quam diu — it is how well you live that matters, not how long; from Seneca qui totum vult totum perdit — he who wants everything loses everything; attributed to Seneca quid pro quo — this for that; an exchange of value quidquid Latine dictum sit altum videtur — whatever has been said in Latin seems deep; or “anything said in Latin sounds profound”; a recent ironic Latin phrase to poke fun at people who seem to use Latin phrases and quotations only to make themselves sound more important or “educated” quorum — of whom; the number of members whose presence is required under the rules to make any given meeting constitutional requiescat in pace — let him rest in peace; abbreviated R.I.P. rigor mortis — stiffness of death scientia ac labore — knowledge through hard work scientia ipsa potentia est — knowledge itself is power semper anticus — always forward semper fidelis — always faithful; U.S. Marines motto semper fortis — always brave semper paratus — always prepared semper virilis — always virile si vales, valeo — when you are strong, I am strong si vis pacem, para bellum — if you want peace, prepare for war sic parvis magna — greatness from small beginnings — motto of Sir Frances Drake sic vita est — thus is life; the ancient version of “it is what it is” sola fide — by faith alone sola nobilitat virtus — virtue alone ennobles solvitur ambulandoit is solved by walking spes bona — good hope statim (stat) — immediately; medical shorthand status quo — the situation in which; current condition subpoena — under penalty sum quod eris — I am what you will be; a gravestone inscription to remind the reader of the inevitability of death summa cum laude — with highest praise summum bonum — the supreme good suum cuique — to each his own tabula rasa — scraped tablet; “blank slate”; John Locke used the term to describe the human mind at birth, before it had acquired any knowledge tempora heroic — Heroic Age tempus edax rerum — time, devourer of all things tempus fugit — time flees; commonly mistranslated “time flies” terra firma — firm ground terra incognita — unknown land; used on old maps to show unexplored areas vae victis — woe to the conquered vanitas vanitatum omnia vanitas — vanity of vanities; everything [is] vanity; from Ecclesiastes 1 veni vidi vici — I came, I saw, I conquered; famously said by Julius Caesar verbatim — repeat exactly veritas et aequitas — truth and equity versus — against veto — I forbid vice versa — to change or turn around vincit qui patitur — he conquers who endures vincit qui se vincit — he conquers who conquers himself vir prudens non contra ventum mingit — [a] wise man does not urinate [up] against the wind virile agitur — the manly thing is being done viriliter agite — act in a manly way viriliter agite estote fortes — quit ye like men, be strong virtus tentamine gaudet — strength rejoices in the challenge virtute et armis — by virtue and arms; or “by manhood and weapons”; state motto of Mississippi vive memor leti — live remembering death vivere est vincere — to live is to conquer; Captain John Smith’s personal motto vivere militare est — to live is to fight vox populi — voice of the people\”


Biblia: Bible. Book.

Biblia Sacra: Holy Bible.

Vulgata: Vulgate (official Latin Bible).

Vetus Testamentum: Old Testament.

Novum Testamentum: New Testament.

Sola Scriptura: Scripture Alone. This was the fundamental point in dispute in the Protestant Reformation. It is taught in 2 Tim. 3:16-17; I Cor.4:6; Acts 17:11; Isa.8:20, etc.

Analogia Scripturae: The Analogy of Scripture. This is explained in the formula: \”Scripturam ex Scriptura explicandam esse\”, or \”Scripture is to be explained by Scripture.\” Related to this principle is the principle of Analogia Fide, or \”Analogy of Faith.\” That is, Biblical doctrines are to be interpreted in relation to the basic message of the Bible, the Gospel, the content of faith, often called The Faith. Cf.1 Cor.2:13, 15:1-4.

Testimonium Internum Spiritu Sanctu: The Internal Testimony of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit who inspired Scripture also authenticates and proves its divine origin through the Scripture itself. This is especially emphasized by Calvinists. Cf.Heb.10:15; I John 5:7-8.

Deus: God. Corresponds to the Greek word THEOS. 

Deus est: God is. 

Deus Absconditus: The Hidden God. 

Deus Revelatus: The Revealed God. 

Verbum Dei: Word of God. 

Lux Dei: Light of God.

Vox Dei: Voice of God. 

Imago Dei: Image of God. The word \”deity\” comes from Deus.

Trinitas: Trinity. Probably coined by Tertullian by combining the Latin words for three and one. The word is not found in Scripture, but the doctrine is (Matt. 28:19).

Actus Purus: Pure Actuality. Refers to God as to His perfect self-existence. Creation is potential or derivative in being, or growing in being once created. God is perfect being.

Sensus Divinitas: The sense of divinity. All men know that God exists (Rom. 1:18-21). Thus, there are no real atheists. Especially emphasized by Calvinists, particularly those of the Presuppositionalist school of apologetics, such as Cornelius Van Til.

Theologica: Theology. Based on the Greek words for God and science. 

Summa Theologica: Sum of Theology. This was the title of the famous systematic theology by Thomas Aquinas.

Loci Communes: Common Places. This was the usual term for systematic theology by the Lutherans, such as the important one by Philip Melanchthon. It refers to the collection of Scripture texts according to subject. 

Locus Classicus: Classic Place. The major Bible text on a subject.

Institutio Christianae Religionis: Institutes of the Christian Religion. Calvin\’s main work.

Summum Bonum: Chief Good. God is the first cause of all, and the final goal. And so, the chief end for which all things were created is the glory of God.

Analogia Entis: Analogy of Being. The error that says that God and Man both share the same kind of being, differing in quantity but not in quality. Basically pantheistic.

Protoevangelium : The First Gospel. The first revelation of the Gospel was Gen. 3:15.

Foedus: Covenant. Federal Theology (or Federalism) is Covenant Theology.

Lex: Law. 

Lex Dei: Law of God. 

Lex Naturalis: Natural Law, revealed in Creation (Rom.1:18-23, 2:14-15). 

Lex Mosaica: Law of Moses. 

Lex Ceremonialis: Ceremonial Law. The temporary and symbolic laws of Moses, replaced by baptism and communion (Col. 2:16-17). 

Lex Moralis: Moral Law, God\’s fundamental, unchangeable Law, in force in both testaments. 

Lex Talionis: Law of Retribution (or retaliation). An eye for an eye, the punishment fits the crime, you reap what you sow. 

Lex Rex: Law and the King, or Law of the King. Title of important book by Samuel Rutherford on the use of Biblical civil law today.  

Creatio ex Nihilo: Creation out of nothing. God created merely by speaking it into existence.

Infralapsus: Infralapsarian. God first ordained the Fall and then elected men in the logical order of the eternal decrees. 

Supralapsus: Supralapsarian. God first elected some and rejected others before He ordained the Fall. 

Lapsus: Fall.

Ordo Salutis: Order of Salvation. Reformed theologians coined the term. 

Armilla Aurea, or Golden Chain, to relate the elements and stages of salvation according to Rom.8:29-30, etc.

Sola Gratia: Grace alone. Grace-faith-justification-works, not grace-faith-works-justification.

Sola Fide: Faith alone. 

Bona fide: Good faith. 

Credo: I believe. 

Notitia: Knowledge, the first element of saving faith. 

Assensus: Assent, the second element of faith. Fiducia: Trust, the third element of faith.

Simul lustus et Peccator: Simultaneously just and sinful. When we are justified, we are still sinful of ourselves. Even though our natures are changed in regeneration, there is still indwelling sin within us. The basis of our acceptance with God is not our changed nature, but rather the righteousness of Christ. His righteousness is thus Iustia Alienum, an alien righteousness – it is inherent in Christ, but not in us. In justification, God imputes or accounts this to us. It is then Iustia Imputata, imputed righteousness.

Articulus Stantis et Cadentis Ecclesiae: The article by which the Church stands and falls. Luther\’s statement concerning justification of the imputed righteousness of Christ by faith alone, rejected by Roman Catholicism.

Solo Christo: Christ alone. Not Christ and priests, pastors, parents, or anyone else.

Extra Calvinisticum: The Calvinistic Extra. The Lutherans believed in the ubiquity (omnipresence)  of Christ\’s human body and nature, whereas the Calvinists have believed the historic view that Christ\’s human body-and-soul is not infinite or omnipresent, but is only now at the right hand of the Father. Calvinists hold to the principle Finitum non Capax Infiniti, or the finite is not capable of the infinite (the finite human nature of Christ is not capable of containing His infinite divine nature in its entirety).Thus, ever since the Incarnation, there is still infinite deity beyond Christ\’s human nature. The beyond is \”extra\” or outside, infinite.

Corpus Christi: The Body of Christ. 

Hoc est Corpus Meum: This is My Body.

Sacramentum: Sacrament. Catholicism believes the sacraments are magical instruments which actually and physically confer grace. Their principle is Ex Opere Operato, or out of the work worked. Do something or receive a physical sacrament, and grace is automatically given. True Protestants, however, rightly reject this and take the word sacramentum to mean mystery, a symbolic ordinance in which grace is given through the Word of God.

Papa: Pope, father. Catholicism says he is infallible when he pronounces a truth as dogma when he speaks Ex Cathedra, from the chair (of Peter). This contradicts Sola Scriptura.

Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus: Outside the Church there is no salvation. The Catholic heresy that there is no salvation outside Catholicism. Protestants believe rather that salvation is not given through a Church but through Christ. There are true believers in many churches, but not outside Biblical Christianity or out of the Body of Christ.

Reformata sed Semper Reformanda: Reformed and always reforming. The Protestant principle that the Church should always be striving to conform to Scripture. So should Christians.

Posse non Peccare: Able not to sin. Adam\’s state before the Fall, and in another way also ours after we are saved. Non Posse non Peccare: Not able not to sin. Total inability to obey God or resist sinning. Unregenerate Man. Non Posse Peccare: Not able to sin. In one sense, God alone is unable to sin, being intrinsically holy. In another sense, the elect will be unable to sin when they are perfected in Heaven (Heb. 12:23; Eph. 1:4).

Soli Deo Gloria: To God alone be the glory. 

Gloria in Excelsis Deo: Glory to God in the highest.

Lectio Continua – the ancient practice of reading, studying, preaching through entire books of the Bible at a time in order to get a better understanding of a particular book. This method of study and preaching is for men, not cowards because it requires the student and preacher, respectively, to know each verse, paragraph and chapter of the book and that includes the \”tough texts\” that we have to deal with. This method will make for a more well-rounded student and preacher. 


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