Scientia potentia est

If you can't impress them with your intelligence, dazzle them with your Latin.

A portion of the foreign phrases section of the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary. The phrases within this section include a mix of French, Latin, German and Greek expressions. Photograph taken September 17th, 2017.

Ting Gao

A portion of the foreign phrases section of the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary. The phrases within this section include a mix of French, Latin, German and Greek expressions. Photograph taken September 17th, 2017.

College. Who in high school isn’t thinking about it? It looms in our future, the threat of it ever-constant in our minds. And for good reason. These days, the need for a college education in the workplace grows with our increasing globalized economy, and the rush to apply to schools has never been so frantic. With 750,000 applicants filling out 3 million college applications in 2012 (Time Magazine), colleges are rather spoiled for choice when it comes to potential students. To make yourself stand out from the rest, here are some Latin phrases to sprinkle into your essays.

Note: most of these definitions are not literal translations from the original Latin.

A
Abuent studia in mores: practices passionately pursued turn into habits

Ab incunabulis: from infancy, from the cradle

Ab ovo usque ad mala: from the beginning to the end (literally translates as “from egg to apples,” or “from soup to nuts”)

Age quod agis: to the business at hand

A maximus ad minima: from the greatest to the least

Apologia pro vita sua: a written justification of one’s beliefs or course of conduct

Ars est celare artem: it is true art to conceal art

Aut Caesar aut nullus: either a Caesar or a nobody

C
Contemptus mundi: contempt for the world

Credo ut intelligam: I believe in order that I may understand

D
Damnant quod non intelligunt: they condemn what they don’t understand

Docendo discimus: we learn through teaching

Dum vivimus vivamus: while we live, let us live

E
Errare humanum est: to err is human

Ex animo: sincerely

Ex mero motu: of one’s own accord

Experto crede: trust me

F
Fidus Achates: faithful friend (Achates is the name of a person)

Forsan et haec olim meminisse juvabit: perhaps this, too, will be a pleasure to look back on someday (suggestion: use this in reference to your essay)

Fronti nulla fides: no faith can be placed on appearance

I
Invita Minerva: without natural inspiration or talent

M
Multum in parvo: much in little

N
Ne cede malis: yield not to misfortunes

Ne quid nimis: nothing in excess

Non omnia possumus omnes: we can’t all do everything (use this as justification for your lack of extracurriculars, etc.)

Non sum qualis eram: I am not what I used to be

P
Paucis verbis: in a few words

Per angusta ad augusta: through difficulties to honors

Q
Quorum pars magna fui: in which I played a great part

S
Suo Marte: by one’s own efforts

T
Tempora mutantur, nos et mutamur in illis: the times are changing, and we are changing with them

U
Utile dulci: the useful with the agreeable

V
Vincit omnia veritas: truth conquers all

Vis medicatrix naturae: the healing power of nature

BONUS: Fun Latin phrases

Ad kalendas Graecas: never (literally translates to “at the Greek calends,” which don’t exist)

Credo quia absurdum est: I believe it because it is absurd

Delenda est Carthago: Carthage must be destroyed

Exceptio probat regulam de rebus non exceptis: an exception lays down the rule as to things not excepted

Naturam expellas furca, tamen usque recurret: you may drive nature out with a pitchfork, but she will keep on coming back

Oderint dum metuant: let them hate, so long as they fear

Parturiunt montes, nascetur ridiculus mus: the mountains are in labor, and a ridiculous mouse will be born (honestly, I don’t know why this sentence exists, or why it’s in the dictionary)

Source: Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition