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Latin Tattoo Ideas: Words, Phrases, Quotes, and Photos

I have thirteen tattoos as well as several piercings, and I think they're all pretty cool.

Angelina Jolie's Latin tattoo: quod me nutrit me destruit (what nourishes me also destroys me).

Angelina Jolie's Latin tattoo: quod me nutrit me destruit (what nourishes me also destroys me).

Latin Language in Today's Popular Culture

It's no secret that Angelina Jolie is fond of tattoos; everyone is familiar with the tattoo she got in honor of her now ex-husband, Billy Bob Thornton, then later had covered up. And publicity shots of soccer great David Beckham frequently show his bare back, revealing the names of his sons tattooed in thick black ink.

But did you know that these celebrities also have Latin tattoos as well? Angelina's is on her lower stomach (next to a thick black cross that covers up a small blue dragon she got while drunk in Amsterdam) and says, "Quod me nutrit me destruit", meaning, "What nourishes me also destroys me." David Beckham's Latin phrase is on his left inner forearm, just below his wife Victoria's name which is misspelled in a Hindi script. The phrase reads, "Ut Amem Et Foveam" meaning "so that I love and cherish."

Although it is now extinct, Latin was once the universal language spoken in Europe (at least as early as the 1st century BC), and it is a language that we can all relate to, as many modern-day words are derived from it.

But today, you can still hear some Latin, even if you are not attending mass at the Vatican in Rome or in Florida with my grandmother (who still says her prayers in Latin, as she was taught to do in the 1930s), or chatting with doctors (primum non nocere, which means "first, do no harm") or lawyers (habeas corpus, an order requiring that a person be brought before a judge). In fact, many people still use Latin today without realizing it. Bona fide is Latin for "good faith," ad hoc means "for this purpose," and quid pro quo means "something for something," which is used in modern-day banter to mean "tit for tat."

"In omnia paratus" Tattoo—Ready for Anything (or Prepared for Everything)

"In omnia paratus" Tattoo—Ready for Anything (or Prepared for Everything)

Vestis virum reddit:

“The clothes make the man.”

— Quintilianus

Latin Phrases That Make Great Tattoos

Latin PhraseTranslation

alis grave nil (or alis grave nihil)

nothing is heavy to those who have wings

alis volat propriis (or alis propriis ea volat)

he/she flies by his/her own wings (or she flies with/by/on her own wings)

audax at fidelis

bold but faithful

auribus teneo lupum

I hold the wolf by the ears (like holding a tiger by the tail; I am in danger but will not give up, I face danger head-on)

carpe noctem

seize the night (as opposed to carpe diem, seize the day)

castigat ridendo mores

laughing corrects morals; one way to change the rules is by pointing out how silly they are

cogito ergo sum

I think therefore I am, or I am thinking, therefore I exist

credo quia absurdum est

I believe it because it is absurd (sometimes used mockingly)

dum vita est, spes est

while/where there is life, there is hope (or while life is, hope is)

esse quam videri (or videri quam esse)

to be, rather than seem to be (or to seem rather than be)

ex nihilo nihil fit

nothing comes from nothing

faber est quisque fortunae suae

every man is the artisan/architect of his own fortune

felix culpa

a happy fault, an apparent mistake or disaster that ends up with a happy ending

luceat lux vestra

let your light shine, or shine your light

luctor et emergo

I struggle and emerge (or I wrestle and I win)

nil desperandum

never despair

non ducor duco

I am not led; I lead

qui audet adipiscitur

s/he who dares, wins (or s/he who wins, dares)

semper ad meliora

always towards better things

sic itur ad astra

thus you shall go to the stars (or thus one goes to the stars: such is the way to immortality)

temet nosce

know thyself

veni, vidi, vici

I came, I saw, I conquered

verba volant, scripta manent

words fly away, writings remain (or spoken words fly away, written words remain)

veritas lux mea

truth is my light

vincit qui se vincit (or bis vincit qui se vincit)

he conquers who conquers himself (the motto of many educational institutions) (or he who prevails over himself is twice victorious)

vive ut vivas

live so that you may live

vox nihili

the voice of nothing

Designing a Latin Tattoo: The Translation

Luckily, unlike tattoos of Hebrew and Arabic words and phrases, Latin phrases are fairly easy to translate for the sake of tattooing. Wikipedia offers an extensive list of Latin phrases, many of which make for beautiful and inspirational designs.

As with any tattoo that is done in a foreign language not your own, make sure you do your homework. We've all heard the stories of people who get tattoos in other languages that look good but mean absolutely nothing, or worse—mean something they did not intend or perhaps even the opposite of what they wanted it to say.

Double-check your translation with several sources before you get it inked on your skin. Because the Latin language is extinct, you won't be able to find a native speaker. Instead, ensure your translation is correct by either using several online translators or confirming its accuracy with a Latin teacher or scholar.

Vir sapit qui pauca loquitur:

“That man is wise who talks little.”

— Unknown

Alea iacta est:

“The dice has been cast.”

— Caesar

Latin Tattoo Translation Mistakes

Again, don't get a tattoo that is misspelled or translates into something other than what you'd thought. Before you get inked, make sure you have the words right! Check it again and again. Know that online translation devices are just robotic and often make mistakes (turn verbs into nouns, mix words around, confuse genders, and make other inhuman errors).

You might consider posting a question on an online forum and inviting Latin scholars to help you with the phrase. If you post a comment below, you might get lucky, since Latin students and scholars sometimes chime in to help with translations there.

You should also spend some time sleuthing out the proper pronunciation because, well, it's your tattoo.

Latin Tattoo Fonts

Of course, with any written tattoo, the style of the lettering matters as much as the words themselves. Here are some suggestions for fonts you might like to use.

Kaligraf Latin has the look of brush-stroked calligraphy.

Kaligraf Latin has the look of brush-stroked calligraphy.

Uncial is a majuscule script (written in all capital letters) used commonly from the 4th to 8th centuries AD by Latin and Greek scribes.

Uncial is a majuscule script (written in all capital letters) used commonly from the 4th to 8th centuries AD by Latin and Greek scribes.

This font is sperrsatz, which is German, but has an antique feel. You could really go crazy designing ornate letters for your tattoo.

This font is sperrsatz, which is German, but has an antique feel. You could really go crazy designing ornate letters for your tattoo.

Fabas indulcet fames:

"Hunger sweetens the beans" or "hunger makes everything taste good."

— Unknown

© 2007 becauseilive

Comments

LuckyBoy on May 22, 2020:

Excuse me, let me ask "Angels are good, Demons are better" in Latin? Thanks a lot

Jacklynn Palma on March 23, 2020:

Someone who speaks Latin can you please help me out and tell me how to say “keep fighting princess” in Latin it would mean the world to me

Cambrinus on November 26, 2019:

Hilarious! The article is, itself, full of mistakes.....

Kirsty on November 16, 2019:

Anyone know how to say “strength from within/ inner strength” in Latin? Thanks

Alan on October 13, 2019:

Guys, help. I want to be sure that “strong”=“forctis”. For a tattoo.

@ Julia on September 26, 2019:

Tuus sum ( if you mean a male person), Tua sum (if it is a woman)

Literally this means "I am yours"

Julia on August 29, 2019:

Hi Could somebody please help me translate “to you I belong”

Very much appreciated!

echo on June 19, 2019:

how to translate "Finding myself" in latin word cause in google its say

invenire me but when I swap the translator its say find me

MUCHO on June 13, 2019:

I need help, I need to get this quote - “For those I love, I will sacrifice.” Translated correctly. It’s important to me, help PLEASE.

Ronnie on May 23, 2019:

Can someone translate "faith greater than fear" to Latin?

Nicole on May 22, 2019:

Hello! How do you say "fear nothing"

TRACEY on May 22, 2019:

Hi,

Can someone help with the translation "I will find my own way".

thanks

hannah on April 29, 2019:

hi i was wondering what is the translation for 'never regret something you once wanted"

Lucone on April 26, 2019:

@ Denis it's future tense. "I will (or I'm going to) achieve all I want"

@ Ami Litteraly: Cor meum, vis mea.

Denis on April 23, 2019:

I found a translation of latin phrase "Omnia, quae volo, adipiscar." - as "I achieve all I want".

Is it correct?

Could anyone help me with that?

Thanks.

Ami on April 20, 2019:

I'm looking for help with translating:

"My Heart, My Strength." Into Latin, woukd anyone help?

Lucone on January 28, 2019:

Dear @Echo,

love hurts may be translated: "Amor vulnerat"

There's also a quote that you might like (the quote, not the concept ofc...) from Plautus: "Amor amara dat" which means love gives you bitterness. If you tell me more about the meaning of this tatoo for you maybe I can find something else. If it's about unrequited love, your name is perfect :D

Echo on January 26, 2019:

I would like to know how to spell (Love Hurts) in latin. I would like to have one word tattoed on a thigh so its very important. May you help me?

Sony on January 16, 2019:

"alis volat propiis" is not "Alis volat propriis". "Alis volat propiis" is not Misspelled in the tattoo, it means I know everything"

Lisa on December 30, 2018:

What is the Latin translation for: Courage Above All? Is it Virtus Apprime?

Lucone on December 06, 2018:

@Ty

The easiest way:

(Ego) sum quia (tu) fuisti.

The verb esse means to be and/or to exist.

You can omit the personal pronouns if you want = Sum quia fuisti.

Instead of quia you could use quod or quoniam.

Ty on December 02, 2018:

How do you say "I am (as in I exist) because you were (as in existed)

Lucone on November 05, 2018:

@T J Garret

The first meaning of fortis-e is strong.

Therefore it could also mean courageous, valiant powerful and everything else strong-related.

T J Garrett on November 01, 2018:

Question(?):

Semper Fortis. Which is the correct translation? Always Courageous or Always Strong? Or does it mean the same?

Ilona on September 25, 2018:

Hi, how would you translate “embrace the fire within” into Latin? Thank you

Ask on September 22, 2018:

Anyone knows the exact sentences latin of “wisdom and family” or “family and wisdom” either way.

Jane on September 12, 2018:

I am worthy. I am enough.

Asira on August 19, 2018:

How would i say in Latin "Never give up"?

Ivanna on June 26, 2018:

Latin for "Free Woman"

Ari on June 05, 2018:

Could someone please translate:

“life is beautiful” or “life is great”

help on June 04, 2018:

can you please translate this in latin

The heart has reasons that reason does not know

Andrew waddington on April 27, 2018:

Hi what would be Latin words for my life,my heart,it belongs to you till death do us part thankyou

Yajaira Bonilla on March 11, 2018:

Can someone please help? I wish to know how I would write out “hold on a little longer” in Latin translate says “diutius tenere” but I want to confirm acouple times that is correct. Thank you

juan on February 25, 2018:

does ''men of fire'' translate to ''de igne'' is this right?

Thanks for your help.

Neil C on February 05, 2018:

Hi

Cam anyone tell if the below phrase is correct in Latin?

'Animam Meam Porto In Caelum '

'Carry my soul to heaven'

Kelly brown on January 10, 2018:

Marli and Austin This is my prayer to you: Love me for who I am not for who you want me to be. I want this in Latin

mrluwz on January 02, 2018:

Hi, could someone please translate the following to Latin

"It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live"

BLS on December 18, 2017:

I want Let Go and Let God in Latin as a tattoo. Help please

JTH on December 14, 2017:

@lucone thanks!

Lucone on December 13, 2017:

@jth: e/ex, a/ab + ablativus casus = ex igne et mari (also mare)

@camila It doesn't make much sense to me...

camila on December 12, 2017:

hi can anyone help me translate "save love keep freedom" thank you :)

JTH on December 09, 2017:

Can anyone help with the the translation “from the sea and fire” I believe it to be “ex mare et ignem” but not sure whether I have conjugated ignem correctly. Thanks

Lucone on December 03, 2017:

@Y ing Volo mori

@Jason De omnibus dubitandum. It means you have to doubt (question) everything

Y ing on November 29, 2017:

Hi can you give me the correct translation of "I want to end my life"? Thanks.

Jason on November 01, 2017:

Can someone plesse help me with a translation for "question everything" or "question all things"

Lucone on October 16, 2017:

@jolene

Angelus-i is already a latin word.

It does not belong to archaic times though, you can not easily find it until the I sec with the spreading of Christianity to translate angelos (messenger) from ancient greek.

Jolene on October 14, 2017:

@Lucone how do I write Angelus in old Archaic Latin?

Lucone on September 06, 2017:

@Ian Ray: Deus solus me iudicare potest.

@Susan: you can't translate it litteraly. The concept of family in ancient Rome is too different from your idea of family. Maybe "familia aeterna est"

@McKenzie Barnes: I would stick with Sister = soror. Little sister I don't think it exists. Maybe minor, iunior...

@Liza: "Iterum tempta"

Ian ray on August 31, 2017:

Pls translate in latin coz i want to get tattoo on this..

Only God can judge me

Susan on August 30, 2017:

I want a tattoo in Latin that says Family is forever? What is the correct spellin

McKenzie Barnes on July 11, 2017:

What is little sister in Latin?

I put it into Google translate but then when I reversed it, it was smaller sister.

Liza on April 24, 2017:

Hi. Can someone give me the correct Latin translation for 'Try Again'? Thank you :)

Cassy on April 10, 2017:

Hey, does anybody know the accurate translation to this quote :

" together forever never apart, maybe in distance but never in heart " :):):)

David on March 19, 2017:

Is this sentence ok???

Crede fato. Sequere somnia tua.

Shruti on January 19, 2017:

I want to do a variation of 'She flies with her own wings' to say 'She flies with the wings they gave her' as an ode to my family. Can someone help me with the translation to latin?

Marjan on January 09, 2017:

Hi, Can anyone tell me what this would be in Latin: Always Fight

I search the internet and found Semper Pugnare. In the Netherlands (dutch) is sounds like somebody who always fight like a boxer or someone who always get in trouble for fighting. But I mean fight for what you love and do what makes you happy and never give up etc.

Thanks :-)

Cha on October 10, 2016:

What is "Guide of my own soul" in Latin? Please help translate

Wewel on July 29, 2016:

can anyone translate below. many thanks

we don't remember the days, we remember the moments

K.McIntosh on February 02, 2016:

Hi, just double checking a translation.

"Viva enim mortuorium in memoria vivorum est posita". the translation i have is " The life of the dead is retained in the memory of the living".

Thanks, can you send your answers via email at kathryn.vcalonline@google.com

pīnus on December 05, 2015:

omg. if you don't know latin, then just get it in english. you'll actually know what it means, you'll be able to pronounce it, etc.

LX on November 09, 2015:

hi how do translate ' come back stronger when u fall' to latin

k on October 24, 2015:

how do you translate " What is done "

K on July 12, 2015:

can someone pls translate "with God everything is possible" to latin? Thank you!

Sielhiel on June 19, 2015:

Can somebody help me transalate "pure is impure,impure is pure" in latin??

Sunitjain on May 31, 2015:

Kindly guide me - How to write "Live and let live" in english?

Akshay Deo on May 22, 2015:

Hello,

I really want to get a tattoo and i love Latin language so i want to get a tattoo in this language only. but since i am not aware of this language can you plz help me and give me a proper guidance ??

I want to write "Alis volat propriis" which is shown in the picture above but I'm really confused coz it says "She flies with her own wings" but for a guy will it be remain same or will it change..??

can you plz help me...???

Abbey on April 02, 2015:

I am a latin scholar here to the rescue! It's late and I'm bored so I decided to use my expensive education to save people from making terrible tattoo mistakes. :) Here's what I've got so far:

“Let your wings unfold” = “Fiat alis tuis explicare”

“Life is too short to live with fear” = Vita nimis brevis est cum metu vivere.

“To dare is to do” = Audere est facere. / Audere facere est.

“The truth will set you free” = Veritas liberabit vos. (from John 8:32 - et cognoscetis veritatem et veritas liberabit vos.)

“family and nation has got your back” = Familia et patria tua te sustentat. (literally: your family and country sustain/support you. delete the “tua” to get rid of “your” if you wish)

Accept your fate or be destroyed by it = Accipe sors tua aut disperī (literally a command/curse: (you) accept your fate or (you) be destroyed!) The long mark over the i in disperī is necessary for its meaning.

“God is alone” (as in God is unaccompanied) / “God alone” (as in “God alone is to be praised”) = “Deus solus (est).” (the “est” is optional. If you want to say that God has no friends it is “Deus incomitatus (est).”

“There is more to life than just being alive” = “Non est vivere sed valere vita est” (Life is not about living so much as about living well. An established and beautiful latin maxim)

“Time waits for no one.” = “Tempus neminem expectat” (an established Latin phrase of comparable meaning is “Tempus neminem manet” which literally means “Time remains for no one”).

Always remember the good = “Semper memento bonum” (it’s a command)

“Guardian Angel” = “Angelus Custos”

(The guardian angel prayer would be a good tattoo for sure!

“Angele Dei,

qui custos es mei,

Me tibi commissum pietate superna;

Hodie illumina, custodi, rege, et guberna.

Amen.”)

“What does not kill me makes me stronger” = “Quod non occidet me fortiorem facit”

“Home is where the heart is” = “Ubi cor, ibi patria est” (the “patria” is the latin equivalent of “home” because it refers to one’s homeland, which was more precious than the house itself since it included generations of family having lived and died on the same land.)

Catherine on January 22, 2015:

Hi ya :)

I don't suppose you know what 'let your wings unfold' is in Latin?

Thanks x

apryl on December 05, 2014:

I was wondering if someone could translate for me:

"Life is too short to live it in fear"

jonas on February 22, 2014:

Audere Es Facere- to dare is to do

ben on November 20, 2013:

veritas vos liberatum .THE TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE.

Avinesh Prahladi from Chandigarh on October 24, 2013:

This is such a nice hub, and no wonder this hub has got so many replies. Even I am also planning to get a tattoo, this hub will surely help me in that.

Cheers !!!!

samris on October 03, 2013:

http://bit.ly/GAYbn4 here are more great ideas!!

James on September 29, 2013:

hi how do you say "family and nation has one's back" in latin

Nuttaparn on September 26, 2013:

Voted up.

I want to try it.

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Robin Milton on September 26, 2013:

cool .

I-SuccessMore on September 25, 2013:

It's Cool ideas. I Love It.

www.i-successmore.com

tony on September 24, 2013:

HELP PLZ

tony on September 24, 2013:

''Accept your fate or be destoyed by it'' in latin anyone?

Leena from new delhi on September 23, 2013:

A tattoo in latin is great since its mysterious and none understands it really...lol...very informative.

Madiha on September 06, 2013:

I love tatoo arts and these tatoos are really wonderful, checkout the http://globalemag.com/simple-mehndi-designs-to-app... for more of asian countries tatoos samples

mikagrubinen on August 30, 2013:

very good

Janet Vale from San Diego, California on August 23, 2013:

Interesting translations.

Shinra Fenris from Bangkok, Thailand on August 07, 2013:

I like its.and i looking for tattoo ideas too.thank you.

Vivian-tmt-hnp from USA. on July 21, 2013:

3:52pm Sunday 21 July 2013

Wonderful article.

Thank for sharing your knowledge about Latin words and phrases.

Vivian

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David Zermeño from Mexico on July 15, 2013:

Cool ideas! Love it. Voted up.

marion langley from The Study on July 11, 2013:

Solius Dei - God's Alone

That was so much fun to read and see.

Thanks for writing ;-)

successmorerich on July 07, 2013:

Hi, how do you say each of these in latin?

There is more to life than just being alive –

Time waits for no one

Remember always Good

Hi, how do you say each of these in latin?

There is more to life than just being alive –

Time waits for no one

http://www.successmorerich.com

Maurice Wisdom Bishop from San Tan Valley on July 05, 2013:

I didn't know anything about latin meaning and tattoos til I read this hub. This was a very entertaining read and informative. Keep up the good work. Much Love and Respect.

FullOfLoveSites from United States on July 05, 2013:

What a great idea for a tattoo! Using Latin words and phrases will make you feel scholarly, to boot. Actually, my favorite Latin phrase is "sursum corda" which means "lift up your hearts". If I do get a tattoo, I would definitely use that. Morale booster. :)

mikael on February 02, 2013:

Hi! could somebody help me translate thhe words Guardian angel to latin p please? Thanks

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Stephanie on January 09, 2013:

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Dani on January 03, 2013:

Hi, how do you say each of these in latin?

There is more to life than just being alive –

Time waits for no one

Remember always

Thanks.

Paula on October 21, 2012:

hello,

I am Brazilian and I was wondering how it would look in Latin: "What does not destroy me, makes me stronger."

I want to get a tattoo with this phrase that I find wonderful.

Thanks

hugs

nick on October 21, 2012:

hey everyone, I've been thinking a long time about getting a tattoo. A text either in english or in latin. "Home is where the heart is."

Problem is i've been uncertain of what the translation to latin would be. I've seen several possibilities. anyone wanna help out? :)

Phoenix on October 12, 2012:

Does anyone know how to translate "from the other-side of the hatch" into Latin?

Help would be much appreciated

Thanks

Natalia on September 09, 2012:

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Jesse Hockings on September 05, 2012:

Hey!

Can anyone translate "strength through adversity" please? its important, if you can my email is hockstar99@hotmail.com

Thankyou