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Latin is a mysterious language. Latin was considered a desiccated language, because no one in modernity is conceived with Latin as their lingua prima. Yet in spite of its mortification, it is still in utility in culture to the extent of omnipresence. It is possible that the cause for its fascination originated from its distinct, musical tone. More importantly, Latin was the language of one of the greatest Vestigial Empires of the Western world, the Imperium Romanum. Additional fascination may also be reinforced by its utility as the official ecclesiastical language of the Ecclesia Romana Catholica, or of the Latinate association with Intellect, Science, Music and Magnanimosity. The fact that "Science" derives from the Latin word "Scientia" meaning "to Know" is an example of Latin influence in sciences.
Whatever the reason, Latin is a beloved lingua despite the mortification of Rome. And that is a satiable reason for gratuitous introduction in fiction. It could also be that many people understand one language solely, and the ability to be bilingual seems, well, magnificent. But remember, if someone does know more than two languages, only one language will remain primus inter paresLat. "first among equals" More literally: The first between equals. to them.
There is furthermore a significant inclination towards simultaneously combining both Latin andGratuitous Greek. Someone who is unfamiliar with one or both could easily confuse one for the other fundamentally on sound, which probably has to do with the derivation of the majority of Latin vocabulary from Greek. The tradition of Greco-Romanism is most exemplified in the field of Taxonomy (exempli gratiaLat. "for example", or more literally "for the sake of example": Tyrannosaurus rex, both Greek Tyrannos and Latin Rexmean "King"note Well, sort of. Tyrannos implied a recently-established monarchy, while the Greek word Basileos, the usual Greek word for "King", implied a throne that existed since time immemorial, or was at least supported by some sort of primordial legitimacy (e.g. the Byzantine Emperor, who by the Middle Ages went by the motto Basileis Basileon Basileionton Basiliei: King of Kings Ruling over Rulers).).
More charitably, inventing a new word in Canis Latinicus (or CynosHellenika) permits the creation of a legitimate-sounding new word with a subconscious link to its meaning, since new words motivate our minds to think about similar-sounding words we recognize already. Latin is also an origin of etymologies for multiple words in the English vocabulary (mostly through French and science), giving Latinesque terms an air of familiarity for English speakers. "Wingardium Leviosa" might be delirious in any language, but the similarity to the words "wing" and "Levitation" connects it to flight rather well, without being as obviously ridiculous as "Wingyup Airyfly".
There's a long tradition of Stage Magicians using pseudo-Latin incantations like the clichéd phrase "hocus pocus," which according to a centuries-old urban legend is a corruption of "Hoc est corpus meum," Lat. This is my body, a post-Reformation stab at the ritual of Catholicism, though etymologists dispute this.
Compare Everything Sounds Sexier in French for the alternative version of this in other languages (French itself is Latin-derived). See also Canis Latinicus for when Latin-sounding language is used instead of legitimate Latin. Only a rare part of the population get their complete Latin accurately anyway, especially if they use an online translation service, or they only have a partial knowledge of the grammar. "Blind Idiot" Translation, Translation Train Wreck and As Long as It Sounds Foreign are very common results.
See also Gratuitous Foreign Language and Latin Pronunciation Guide.
Anime and Manga (Mangae Et Picturae Animatae Nipponenses)
Simoun features a small dictionary worth of Latin and Latin-sounding terms to designate various technologies and concepts: from the deity Tempus Spatium ("Time Space"); through country names Simulacrum ("likeness, similarity"), Argentum ("silver"), and Plumbum ("lead"); to pilot roles auriga ("charioteer", the primary pilot) and sagitta ("arrow", the navigator and gun controller). These last two terms are also constellations, for additional Theme Naming fun.
In Mahou Sensei Negima!, the spells and attack names that aren't in Japanese are generally in Latin, sometimes Greek (and once or twice Sanskrit). They're pretty good, too.
As an example, the incantation for one of Negi's favorite attack spells:
Negi: "Veniant Spiritus Aeriales Fulgurientes! Cum Fulguratione Flet Tempestas Austrina! Jovis Tempestas Fulguriens!" Lat. "Come, Spirits of Air and Lightning! Southern Storm Which Blows with Lightning! Jupiter’s Storm of Thunder!"
The series title is sometimes translated into Latin as "Magister Negi Magi," with magister magi having a rather convenient double meaning as either "magic teacher" or "master of magic" — both of which describe him quite well* Amusingly, it is also exactly the double meaning implicit in the original Japanese word "Sensei"..
In Gundam 00, they bring us the "Memento Mori" "Remember you will die" It's a Kill Sat that royally messes up the Middle East before it is destroyed, along with its commander. The Innovators have another, just in case.
In Puella Magi Madoka MagicaLat. Magical Girl Magician Madoka, the terms "Magical Girl" and "Puella Magi" are used interchangeably, for good reason. PuellaLat. "a young girl" also may additionally mean "a young slave" due to it being derived from Puerulus. MagiLat. "Magician", or, more accurately, as it's a genitive form of the word Magus, "of the magician". can also mean derogatorily, "charlatan", which means "one who deceives". Applying this terminology, the Latin title actually avertsDepartment of Redundancy Department: the real English title to the anime is actually Slave to the Deceiver: Magician Madoka. The Japanese title, however, averts the Latin title altogether* Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica, which is elaborated in the anime. See the Main page for that description — the Japanese title offers the similar possibility of interpretation.. Still, either way, it's certainly an example of gratuitous Latin (although Latin isn't the only language this anime brings in, for obvious reasons).
The titles of the series' music are all in Latin as well, although they did screw up one title: "Nux Walpurgis" was probably meant to be "Nox Walpurgis". That one letter is the difference between "Walpurgis Night" (the name of the final and most powerful Witch) and "Walpurgis Nut" (which doesn't make any sense).
The Future Diary combines this with Theme Naming — the first opening lists off the Dii Consentes, the twelve Roman gods and goddesses that were considered to be the highest deities. Each Diary keeper is named after one of them, adding Bacchus for John Balks, the Eleventh.
Comic Books (Librī Comicōrum)
Astérix has lots of gratuitous Latin phrases, mostly in the form of classical proverbs. Canis Latinicus is averted except in names.
Disney Ducks Comic Universe: In Carl Barks' classic The Golden Helmet, Donald Duck runs afowl of a dubious lawyer who goes around spouting mock Latin phrases like "Flickus flackus fumlidium" (allegedly meaning "Can you prove that [my client] isn't who he claims to be?") At the end of the story Huey declares that they have had enough nonsense, to which Dewey answer with the obvious affirmative "Yeppus yappus youbettus!"
Later Don Rosa wrote a sequel, "The Lost Charts of Columbus", where Donald finally got the chance to tell the lawyer and his client "Aqua concus dipporum" ("Go soak your head").
In Grant Morrison's JLAEarth Two when the Flash asks about the Crime Syndicate's motto "Cui Bono," the good Lex Luthor from the evil universe naturally knows its means "Who profits?" which prompts him to begin wondering who could profit from their current predicament his train of thought is cut short by an attack the not-so-enslaved-as-we-thought Brainiac who realizes that Lex is about to figure out what he's up to.
Fan Fiction (Devotoris Figmenti)
The Gravity Falls fic Home Is Where The Haunt Is includes several spells entirely in Latin. Seems to be Author Appeal, as the author's other fics involving supernatural elements also include Latin.
Ultraman Moedari tends to insert Latin randomly, most often due to the character Father Leo, who, somewhat justifiably, is a priest of the Latin rite. "Mors stupebit!"
Top Secret!. While Nick Rivers is in prison, he's taken out of his cell and led to an execution room by a priest speaking common Latin phrases such as "corpus delicti" and "quid pro quo". It eventually derails into Pig Latin, and translates as "You're going to get fried in the chair". It's the priest who gets fried, which makes sense, given that East Germany was a Communist state.
Monty Python and the Holy Grail. As a group of Catholic monks are walking along, they repeatedly chant the phrase "Pie Jesu Domine, dona eis requiem" Lat. "Kind Lord Jesus, grant them rest. and hit themselves on the head with boards. Watch it here. This is a phrase from a longer work known as Dies IraeLat. Day of Wrath.
The Running Man. While Richards is being led to the arena, a lawyer reads his contract to him. It includes a Latin phrase in its legalese, "Ad hoc de facto"Lat. It's "for this, in fact"; but in legal use, both are standard terms and it means "for this purpose; in practice, but not by law".
The captain of the Event Horizon signed off his logs with Latin phrases. We learn this after we learn that the only transmission from the ship since it reappeared appears to be garbletrash, but with "save me" spoken in Latin amid the static, and the reasonable assumption is that the captain spoke this as well. He did. But the static distorted the message, so we only later learn that he was actually saying "Save yourself, from Hell."
Edward Rutledge in 1776 likes to speak Latin, much to Colonel McKean's annoyance.
The dog funerals in A Fish Called Wanda all feature a choir singing "Miserere dominus, canis mortus est."Lat. Lord have mercy, the dog is dead.
In Tombstone, there is a dialog between gunfighters Johnny Ringo and Doc Holliday with common latin quotations that takes place after Holliday directly insults Ringo to his face.
Wyatt Earp: (to Ringo, trying to defuse the situation) "He's drunk."
Doc Holliday: "In vino, veritas."Lat. "In wine is truth." Holliday is saying, "When I'm drinking, I speak my mind."
Johnny Ringo: "Age quod agis."Lat. "Do what you do." Meaning, "Do what you do best", referring to Holliday's near-constant state of drunkenness.
Doc Holliday: "Credat judaeus Apella, non ego."Lat. "The Jew Apella may believe it, but not I." Meaning, "I don't believe drinking is what I do best."
Johnny Ringo: (running a thumb across his revolver's chamber) "Eventus stultorum magister."Lat. "Events are the teachers of fools." Meaning "fools have to learn by experience."
Doc Holliday: "In pace requiescat."Lat. "Rest in peace." Meaning "It's your funeral!" Holliday is directly threatening to kill Ringo if the two ever get into a gunfight.
Johnny Dangerously has the eponymous protagonist being led down death row by a phony priest, who begins his "last rites" by muttering common Latin phrases, then rapidly degenerates into Canis Latinicus.
Magna Cum Laude, Summa Cum Laude, The Radio's Too Loud-y. Dominus, Festivus, Missed the bus.
As people in the Imperium are wont to do, various characters in Damnatus utter a few phrases of Latin High Gothic during situations of appropriate gravitas.
In Leviathan, the Doc is thoughtful enough to give an English version of his commentary on radical genetic engineering: "Natura non confundenda est. Loosely translated: don'tfuckwithMotherNature."
In Priest, after Father Greg's Crisis of Faith escalates (and his arrest for having gay sex in a car ends up in the newspaper), he flees to a remote parish, headed by a priest who dresses him down in Latin.
The Raven. While casting his spells, Dr. Bedlo (Peter Lorre) says "Veni vidi vici", "De mortuis nil nisi bonum", "Cave canem" (beware of the dog), "Si vis pacem parabellum" ("If you want peace, prepare for war") and "Ceterum censio Carthaginem esse delendam" ("Furthermore, I believe Carthage should be destroyed.")
Also, The Dresden Files mostly has Canis Latinicus in the form of spells and Harry's butchering of the language, but occasionally, there will be a bit of real Latin. Mostly when Michael Carpenter is wielding one of the holy swords. The White Council of wizards uses Latin during formal Council meetings, which mostly serves the purpose of indicating to the reader that it's run by a bunch of very old-fashioned and hidebound people; Harry, as already mentioned, speaks it only poorly.
The Canis Latinicus is justified in the text by the fact that picking a magic word to go with a spell forges a link between the two in the caster's mind, so they try to use dead languages, fake languages, or just languages that they don't actually know so that they won't use them in normal life (which could lead to an accidental discharge). Harry uses dog-Latin and some dog-Spanish; other wizards are shown using dog-Sumerian, dog-Egyptian, and dog-Japanese.
Discworld often has Latin sprinkled about, usually in situations where people are trying to sound pretentious. Examples include the City Watch's motto (Fabricati Diem, Pvnc) to a joke played by the Unseen University's wizards on a foreign diplomat by awarding him an honorary doctorate in "Adamus cum Flabello Dulci"Lat. Sweet Fanny Adams.
Bugarup U's motto "Nullus Anxietas" isn't even trying. Also, written over the secret students' entrance is "Nulli Sheilae Sanguinae"Lat. No Bloody Shelias.
There's also the school motto "Draco Dormiens Nunquam Titillandus" (Never Tickle a Sleeping Dragon), which appears on the Hogwarts seal and is never translated in the books.
Older Than Steam: Don Quixote: This trope is lampshaded and defined by Cervantes, a Spanish writer in the seventeenth century. At the time, Latin and Greek were languages that must be known by government bureaucrats and any people with literacy pretenses, but certainly there were a lot of books where this trope was not justified.
Another example is lampshaded in Part II, chapter LI. Sancho has been made governor of the "Island of Barataria". In the seventeenth century, it was expected that members of the government and the aristocracy would be well educated, and this education included Latin. Don Quixote never uses Latin in his sentences with Sancho because he is not interested in impressing him with his superior knowledge, but he expects that Sancho will learn Latin now that he is a governor:
"... amicus Plato, sed magis amica veritasLat. Plato is my friend, but truth is more my friend. I quote this Latin to thee because I conclude that since thou hast been a governor thou wilt have learned it."
In A Canticle for Leibowitz the last words spoken are "Sic transit mundus"Lat. Thus passes the world, which is a play on the Latin phrase "Sic transit gloria mundi" Lat. Thus passes the glory of the world
In The Space Trilogy of C. S. Lewis, the character of Merlin speaks only in Latin. Because Lewis was a brilliant Latinist, it's all correct. It also makes sense, since Merlin has been in suspended animation since the Low Middle Ages, and has had no opportunity to learn English (which he'd probably associate with the hated Saxon invaders, anyway.)
Hilariously, the person the bad guys think is Merlin and are trying to win over to their side is actually a bum who happened to be in the right place at the right time and has observed that whoever these people are they're sheltering him and feeding him, so when they occasionally speak to him in what (to him) is gibberish he happily obliges them by speaking gibberish back. For their part, they assume he's speaking some (probably Celtic) language/dialect they're unfamiliar with. He eventually figures out what's going on, but keeps up the act anyway because hey, free food. Also: bad guys; they'd probably kill him if they found out.
All the spells in Rivers of London are in Gratuitous Latin, but only because they were all codified and written down by Sir Isaac Newton during the time Latin was the language of choice for Gentlemen Scientists. Just no one ever got around to updating them into English.
Henry Beard's Latin for All Occasions runs on this trope. It's a Latin phrasebook for when you need to know how to say things like "Look! Cheese Whiz!" in Latin.
Random Latin phrases appear in the mouths of clergy (and people pretending to be clerics) in Ivanhoe. A brawl between Friar Tuck and Prior Aymer is particularly memorable for loud threats delivered in bad Latin.
Friar Tuck: Ossa ejus perfringam, I shall break your bones, as the Vulgate hath it. (Referring to the Vulgate Bible, the translation (from Greek to Latin) used by the Church in those days).
In addition to the title, the web-novel DominaLat. "the lady," as in the mistress of a house or city uses Latin in a number of other places. Every chapter title is a Latin word, and one of the major gangs is Necessarius Lat. "necessary".
The Hunger Games has a Latin motif for the central Capitol of Panem. All the characters associated with the main city have Latin first names, usually appropriate to their role, including Coriolanus Snow and Seneca Crane. "Panem" itself is explicitly from the motto "Panem et Circenses", "Bread and Circuses", the central theme of the trilogy. (Although literally it just means "[doing something] to the bread." "Panem et Circenses" should be "Panis et Circenses" if it's on its own. The -em ending is accusative.)
In The Mark of the Lion trilogy, lots of Latin is dropped in as ordinary vocabulary, since the setting is Ancient Rome and it’s the everyday language. There’s a glossary of terms in the back.
A.D. Godley, a professor of Classics at Oxford in the 1900s, commemorated the arrival of buses in Oxford with his poem "Motor Bus". The poem achieves mock-gravitas by apostrophizing the eponymous vehicle in Latin, complete with declension of the titular phrase as though it were itself in Latin ("Yes, the smell and hideous hum / Indicat Motorem Bum!"), which overlaps a bit with Canis Latinicus.
Gratuitous Latin is in widespread usage in The Mortal Instruments. Partly justified in that Idris is located in Western Europe and has been around since the Middle Ages, when Latin was still the common language of the educated class in that region. Sometimes abused by Shadowhunters as part of their smug routine. Ominous Latin Chanting is also popular.
H.G. wells "The Food of the Gods" has the following:
It was so evident that even now he had everything to learn. He did not know there were physical laws and economic laws, quantities and reactions that all humanity voting nemine contradicente cannot vote away, and that are disobeyed only at the price of destruction. (The phrase is perfect for the context being used, it means "absolutely without dissent".)
In Relativity, Michael is fond of using Latin quips. He gets in trouble for using one while in his superhero persona.
Michael: Pfft. Like nobody ever uses Latin.
Ravenswood: Um... they don’t. Not often, anyway, unless they’re a lawyer.
Chapter 9 of Samuel Hopkins Adams' Average Jones, "The Man Who Spoke Latin," is about a guy who allegedly got stuck in one of his previous incarnations after a bump on the head and consequently can speak only in Latin. It turns out to be a scam, of course.
Bartlet: Twenty-seven lawyers in the room, anyone know post hoc, ergo propter hoc? Josh? Josh: Uh... post, "after," after hoc; ergo, "therefore"; "after hoc, therefore something else hoc." Bartlet: Thank you. Next. Leo? Leo: "After it, therefore because of it." Bartlet: After it, therefore because of it. It means one thing follows the other, therefore it was caused by the other, but it's not always true. In fact, it's hardly ever true. We did not lose Texas because of the hat joke. Do you know when we lost Texas? C.J.: When you learned to speak Latin?
In LOST there's "Ille qui nos omnes servabit" which is the answer to the coded phrase "What lies in the shadow of the statue?". It means "He who will preserve/save/keep us all" when correctly translated, or "He who will serve us all" if a common translation error is made.
In The Big Bang Theory, where Howard and Sheldon argue over the type of the cricket they found:
Howard:(shows a page in a book) See it? The common field cricket, AKA Gryllus assimilis which is Latin for "suck it, you lose."
Sheldon: Hang on! (searches in the book) Voilà! The snowy tree cricket, AKA Oecanthus fultoni, which is Latin for "I will suck nothing." I'm joking, of course, because the Latin for that is "Nihil exsorbebo."
On Better Off Ted, Veronica claims that the company motto, which is engraved on the lobby floor, translates to "Money Before People", but it sounds much more heroic in Latin.
Parodied in the Doctor Who episode "The Shakespeare Code," when Martha, realizing that for once William Shakespeare is at a loss for words on how to finish the sonnet that will banish the Carrionites as he lacks a word to rhyme with cuss, dredges up "Expelliarmus" from Harry Potter, which she, Shakespeare and The Doctor all shout with gusto.
"Lupus Deus Est" from "Tooth and Claw"
The Ood's songs in the episodes "Planet of the Ood" (which turned into a full choir for a reprise "Journey's End") and The End of Time are in Classical Ood, but translated by the TARDIS into ridiculously bad Latin for human ears.
Any time a Star Trek episode from any series uses a Latin title, you can be assured that the title, when translated, carries significant meaning to the plot of the episode.
The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges"Lat. "In times of war, laws fall silent." is concerning the usage of underhanded methods to change the political structure of the Romulan empire in the Federation's favor (with a war going on, no less). One of the characters even does a Title Drop during the episode.
The Star Trek: Voyager episode "Ex Post Facto"Lat. "after the fact", concerning a race that extracts memory engrams from murder victims and uses that as evidence against a Voyager crew member. The term is an actual legal term, referring to laws that are retroactively binding to cases before the law was enacted.
The title of the famous episode "Arena" literally means "sand" or "powder" in Latin, and gained its present meaning because of the sand sprinkled on the floor before a gladiator fight to give them traction. But apparently the title wasn't intended to be taken this way, even though it works, and just referred to...an arena.
In Babylon 5, there was an episode titled "Sic Transit Vir Lat "Thus passes Vir" or "Thus passes man", since "vir" can mean "man" (a Latin pun on a character's name, no less).
Mr. Bean has an opening theme tune consisting of a choir singing, "Ecce homo qui est faba."Lat. "Behold the man who is a bean." The same choir closes each episode with, "Vale homo qui est faba."Lat. "Farewell, man who is a bean."
Even the show's commercial breaks are denoted with Latin singing: "Finis partis primae"Lat. "End of part one" and "Pars secunda"Lat. "Part two"
Many of the magic spells used on Buffy the Vampire Slayer happen to be in Latin. Evidently one of the more challenging things for Alyson Hannigan was memorizing all of the Latin that the writers kept flinging at her. In the final season, a minor Crowning Moment of Awesome happens when Willow stops halfway through a spell and shouts "Screw it! I suck at Latin, OK?! and proceeds to make the spell work in English by pure force of will. Andrew also displays a knowledge of Latin several times in the show and comics.
In Kaamelott, King Loth is fond of meaningless Latin quotes. The Latin language (in the quotes) is mostly legitimate, but Loth's translations are always inaccurate.
House did this in a conversation with Amber-slash-Cutthroat Bitch: (episode is "Don't Ever Change")
Amber: Hello, Greg. And I call you Greg because we're now social equals.
House: And I call you Cutthroat Bitch because, well, quod erat demonstrandumLat. Which was to be proved..
Stephen Colbert's Latin motto is "Videri Quam Esse"Lat. to seem to be rather than to be, which sums up his character pretty well.
A M*A*S*H episode has Major Winchester defending Klinger at a court-martial for allegedly stealing a camera. At one point during the proceedings he objects on the grounds of "unum piliolae, acidus salicilicus tres in diem, post sabel"...which the presiding officer points out translates to "aspirin three times a day".
Many of the incantations and exorcisms in Supernatural are in Latin.
Deadwood: Merrick writes that a vaccine will be distributed gratis. Al insists that they clarify "free gratis" before deciding to ditch the Latin altogether. In a later episode, a town meeting agrees that the temporary town positions will be ad hoc. Al rolls his eyes, muttering, "Ad hoc... free gratis..."
The German neo-medieval band Corvus Coraxnote Latin "raven" followed by Greek "raven"; it's also the scientific name for, surprise surprise, the common raven parodies this trope on one of its shirts with the words, "Omnia dicta fortiora, si dicta latina" which means, "Everything sounds more impressive when said in Latin."
Actually Latin was heavy on simplifications, the Romans elided everything they could from their sentences, perhaps in an effort to sound more laconic and no-nonsense, perhaps they had more pressing things to do (like building an empire) than wasting time uttering too many words. They often elided the subject of a phrase when it was apparent who was taking the described action and they hadn't a fixed word for "yes" but made "hoc" ("this") double for it, other examples could take several pages.note The other two big ones were "hoc ille" ("this is it") and "sic" ("thus"). These evolved into the words for "yes" in the modern Romance languages: "hoc" became "oc", the word used in Occitan (the traditional language of southern France), "hoc ille" became "oil" and then "oui". "Sic" became several variations on "si", used in pretty much all the other Romance languages. This tendency was not merely a quirk of spoken tongue, but had literary dignity and was taken to extremes by people like Julius Caesar, who famously commented his campaign against Pharnaces II of Pontus with the three-word message "Veni, Vidi, Vici" (I came, I saw, I conquered); hence Corvus Corax motto could be better rendered as: "Omnia dicta fortiora, si latina".
Latin, as the historical language of the Roman Catholic Church and the Academia, has a vast repertoire of both secular and religious music set to it. For a singer, it may seem difficult to learn the pronounciations at first - especially if you've been singing it wrong before. "Veh-night-ee" for Venite, indeed! Of course, any talk about pronunciation leads right into the huge argument between the "Ecclesiastical" or "Medieval" pronunciation versus the "Classical" or "Restored" pronunciation. "Ven-ee-tay" vs. "Wen-ee-tay", for starters. Most written music was written for Ecclesiastical Pronunciation, though.
One section of Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition" is titled "Con mortuis in lingua mortua," meaning "with the dead in a dead language" (though the first word should be "cum", rather than "con" as it would be in Italian).
Carmina Burana has a lot of Latin songs in it, mingling with courtly French and mediaeval German.
Cat Stevens recorded a song titled "O Caritas" with mostly Latin lyrics translated by Jeremy Taylor.
Newspaper Comics (Comicōrum Acta Diurna)
A 1965 Peanuts strip has Lucy giving Snoopy a hug:
Lucy:Felicitas est parvus canis calidus. That's Latin for "Happiness is a warm puppy".
Snoopy: I can't stand it!
Professional Wrestling (Etiam palaestrica)
"The Intellectual Savior of the Unwashed Masses" Damien Sandow uses an elbow drop called the Cubito Aequet. WWE claims that it means "Elbow of disdain." The problem is that it actually translates to "Elbow of distain," meaning to "sully" or "discolor," which makes no sense in this context. The correct version would be Cubito Fastidia.
Tabletop Games (Lūdī Lūsī In Mensā)
The word "Primarch" from Warhammer 40,000 is an example of Latin/Greek mixture: "primus" ("first") is a Latin word root, whereas "archon" ("ruler") is Greek (άρχον ). Still 40K offers a great deal of proper Gratuitous Latin. According to Word of God this is simply a Translation Convention meant to evoke the way "High Gothic" would sound to the common folk of .M41.
Vampire: The Requiem has a lot of terminology either directly imported from, or inspired by Latin, presumably related to the fact that vampire society is static, at best. Although justified, it is still amusing that Ancilla, a word used to refer to "middle-aged" vampires, translates quite readily as "slave woman."
Subverted in FATAL, which was kind enough to provide a translation for its pretentious Latin. Usually, this was some kind of crude sexual doggerel. The Latin is also often wrong. On the other hand, at least one part seems to be quoting (or paraphrasing) the crude sexual doggerel of Catullus (a real Roman poet) - see Catullus 16 on The Other Wiki for info on that (NSFW text there though).
The Dungeons & Dragons sourcebook Libris Mortis is a double subversion: it looks fine to the layman. But the community calls it the "Book of Bad Latin" because they assume it's supposed to mean Book of the Dead (which should be Liber Mortis). But it's not: the book's introduction makes it clear that it's intended to mean From the Books of the Dead, which is exactly what it does mean.
After Jodelet notices that Mountfleury has fallen from grace with the Burgundy's theater public, Bellerose cites the first two words of "Sic transit gloria mundi"Lat. Thus passes the glory of the world
(Cries are heard outside.) Jodelet(who has looked out): They hoot Montfleury! Bellerose(solemnly): Sic transit!...
Act II Scene VII, when a cadet shows the hats of the thugs Cyrano defeated, Captain Carbon says: Spolia opima!Lat. rich spoils/trophies, refers to the armor, arms, and other effects that an ancient Roman general had stripped from the body of an opposing commander slain in single, hand-to-hand combat.
A running gag in Love's Labour's Lost is that a couple of blowhard characters are full of this, and love to correct each other for using grammar incorrectly and such. This annoys Moth, the local Servile Snarker, who remarks, "They have been at a great feast of languages, and stolen the scraps."
The Opening Chorus of The Vagabond King is sung in a mixture of English and Latin.
Eternal Darkness: "Hanc mitte ad dominum et imperatorem nostrum, Carolum Magnum Francum." ("Deliver this to our lord and emperor, Charles the Great the Frank." Charles the Great is more widely referred to by his French name, Charlemagne).
The character Doctus from Xenosaga Episode III tends to use Latin sayings for no apparent reason, such as "errare humanum est" (to err is human).
In The Elder Scrolls, natives of Cyrodiil, the capital province of The Empire, all have Latin-sounding names. The actual amount of Roman influence on their culture varies from game to game.
Estuans interius, ira vehementi. (Burning inside with vehement anger.) Sors immanis, et inanis (Fate - empty, and cruel.) Veni veni venias, ne me mori facias. (Come, come, O come, do not let me die.)
The opening theme of Final Fantasy VIII, "Liberi Fatali" ("Fated Children," though more properly it should be "Liberi Fatales"). Additionally, all of the paintings in the art gallery in Ultimecia's castle have Latin titles which are part of a minor sidequest.
Dissidia: Final Fantasy uses the trope multiple times. Dissidia itself is derived from the Latin word for discord. The prequel is called Dissidia 012: Final Fantasy, where in 012 is officially pronounced "Duodecim", which is Latin for twelve. The prequel's final secret character, Feral Chaos has Latin names for his HP attacks, such as Deus Iratus* Angered God, Ventus Irae* Wind of Wrath, and Lux Magnus* Great Light, should be "Lux Magna," as "lux" is feminine. This also applies to his EX Burst: Regnum Dei* Kingdom of God and its followup: Nex Ultimus* Final Slaughter, should be "Nex Ultima," as "nex" is feminine.
Makes for a sort of Bilingual Bonus when all of the New Californa Republic troops pointedly use the Anglified pronounciation of Caesar's name. At least one bit of dialogue indicates that they're aware of how he wants his name said, they just don't care, given that the Legion and the Republic are at war.
Ezio Auditore's Post-Mortem One-LinerCatch Phrase from Assassins Creed II: Requiescat in pace (Rest in Peace* Actually, "requiescat" is the active subjunctive third-person singular present tense (of "requiesco") that means "he/she/it may/must/should rest". "May you rest in peace" would be Requiescas in pace.). And some Ominous Latin Chanting on the soundtrack as well (but moreso in the sequel, Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood). It also appears in speech at times, such as Rodrigo Borgia holding mass in the Sistine Chapel right before Ezio attempts to assassinate him.
The final mission of Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies features the utterly epic song Megalith-Agnus Dei as the soundtrack for destroying the Megalith superweapon* Which appears to simply be a heavily-fortified ICBM base.
Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War's final mission theme, fittingly named The Unsung War, is also in Latin. This time the lyrics are a vulgate translation of the Razgriz poem that recurrently appears through the game, with a lot of repetitions.
In the background of Sword of the Stars, Latin has become one of humanity's main languages.
This is mostly due to the Catholic Church becoming the dominant religion on Earth and its colonies (but not the only one). In The Deacon's Tale novel (which features a lot of gratuitous Latin and few translations), the Pope has enough power to threaten the Director of SolForce, the most powerful man in human space. The protagonist of the novel is a Chinese man who is in charge of one of [~Sol Force~]'s intelligence branches but who is secretly a Catholic deacon (it's kinda frowned upon to serve 2 masters).
Durandal of Marathon has some fun with this: after killing his greatest enemy, he carves the following epitaph into a moon: "Fatum Iustum Stultorum" ("The Just Fate of Fools"; in other words, "These idiots got what was coming to them.")
Kingdom of Loathing parodies this trope. The IOTM Loathing Legion Knife has a tattoo needle, and when used, it will give you a tattoo inscribed with the Loathing Legion's unofficial motto: "Tardis Pro Cena", which you should never call a Loathing Legionnaire. Apparently, you should never call them "late for dinner".
In Super Robot Wars Z2: Saisei-Hen, During Uther's final attack, he chants a spell to cast a curse on his opponent. The translated version of the spell chant Uther recites during the attack is Latin for: As the sun shines upon all creation. a king's love is for his subjects. You who tread the path of the Fool. By the light of Salvation. Thou shalt be saved.
Age of Mythology averts Canis Latinicus creating scientific names for myth units - any Half-Human Hybrid is Homo x (centaur = equus, minotaur = bull, valkyrie = valkyria), any giant is Atlas x, others take the genus of the animal it's inspired in and add a sufix (the Nemean Lion is Leo biaxomus, the Fenris Wolf is Canis fenrir).
Rhea of Dark Souls will say "Vereor Nox" as a farewell to the player. It means "fearfully respect the night/dark."
Spellcasting characters in Baldur's Gate chant short stock phrases in Latin when casting a spell, the Latin is appropriate to the type of spell being cast (summon, evocation, enchantment etc.).
Mordekai the Summoner, the final boss in Serious Sam The Second Encounter speaks "complete nonsense, or as one would say, utter crap. In Latin." This is due to Mental being a bit late with resurrecting him after he died in an accident which, among other things, also included a mispronounced Latin proverb.
The Rome section of Atlantis Quest is titled "Senatus populusque romanus."Lat Roman senatorial populace.
In MINERVA: Metastasis, the titular MINERVA ironically quotes a twist on a line from Horace's Odes: "dulce et decorum est pro terra mori". ("It is sweet and fitting to die for your planet", caustically referring to the player character's Transhuman Treachery.)
Webcomics (Libellī Pictī De Interrete)
A subversive example from Fluble (Death's Latin is incorrect: hystrix means "porcupine").
Quentyn: Well, you know why Latin is called the "Scholars'" tongue...? It's a dead language. Never changes, very specific and all that stuff... So scholars can use it to write to one another, and no matter what language they speak they can understand one another, exactly. ...So the Fey are always pulling tricks, right? Getting out of agreements by playing dumb, deliberately misunderstanding words or using double-meanings... But Latin is one of the only languages that they can't do that. In fact, they say that you should only make deals with Fey in Latin for that reason.
Breakfast of the Gods: Jarvis's final spell is in decent Latin, except for one word in English. Saying what the spell is would be a huge spoiler for the whole work.
This trope is probably why message board posters wrongly use "Ad Hominem" synonymously with "personal attack".
In his list of top 11 Anime openings, the Banjo Kid (when talking about Elfen Lied) remarks on how anything can be made to sound elegent and beautiful in Latin, then begins singing a Latin explanation of why he's not wearing any pants. Later, he also does a Gregorian Chant version of Eminem's "The Real Slim Shady".
The Gungan Council featured several factions with Latin names, such as Regnum In Potestas and Sine Occasu, for no better reason than it was cool.
Western Animation (Picturae Animatae Occidentales)
In Gargoyles, all the mortal spells were in Latin. Because anything said in Latin sounds profound and Ominous.Word of God says that the book containing most of those spells was written by a magus working for Emperor Augustus; naturally, Latin was his first language.* Word of God also adds that any language can be used for magic, provided the spell is composed by a magus and pronounced correctly. Indeed, in the show some are in Hebrew and at least one is cast in English.
In The Venture Bros., 21 tries to be intimidating by yelling "Semper Fidelis, Tyrannosaurus Rex!" when trying to say "Sic semper tyrannis". Upon which he is informed he just said "Always faithful, terrible lizard king", which he still thinks is pretty cool.
In the episode of South Park where Damien (Satan's son) visits the Earth, all of his evil spells are accompanied by some Ominous Latin Chanting that goes "Rectus! Dominus!" before shifting abruptly to "CheesyPoofs!" (The first two words, by the way, translate to "Ass Master.")
In the Rankin-Bass version of The Life & Adventures of Santa Claus, the opening musical number that introduces the leaders of the immortals has a Latin title — Ora e Sempre ("edge of the measured"). It's the only Latin in the entire song — or even in the entire special.
Real Life (Vēritās)
Vicipaedia Lat. Latin language Wikipedia.
All Roman Catholic Church records are in Latin, so this leads to them creating Latin words for things that just weren't around when the Romans were, such as "Interrēte", which means "Internet" as seen in the folder headings on this page.
Nova Roma, an international organization "dedicated to the study and restoration of ancient Roman culture". Including the Cultus Deorum Romanorum.
Nuntii Latini, the Latin news report of the Finnish Radio.
Many Badass Creeds are Pretentious Latin Mottoes, such as Semper FidelisLat. Always Faithful (USMC), Semper ParatusLat. Always Prepared (USCG), Per Mare, Per TerramLat. By Sea, By Land (Royal Marines), Ad Astra Per Aspera (NASA for the Apollo missions - "ad lunam" would have been better),Lat. Through Adversity to the Stars, Per Ardua Ad Astra (the RAF),Lat. also Through Adversity to the Stars, Per Ardua Ad Alta (Birmingham University),Lat. Through Adversity to the Heights, Qualitas Potentia NostraLat. Quality is Our Might (Finnish Air Force), Citius, Altius, Fortius (The Olympics),Lat. Faster, Higher, Stronger and so on.
There is a little town in northeast Georgia (the one in the US) named Subligna. A certain Dr. Underwood suggested the name when it was founded. Subligna meaning "Under wood."
In Bavaria, Austria, Romania, Slovakia, and Hungary, "Servus!" is a colloquial greeting. The fact that it means "[I am your] servant" is practically never thought of.
In English, "At your service" is occasionally used as a response to an introduction, rhetorically indicating deference to those one is being introduced to. Such phrasing seems archaic now, but was more commonly used in the past.
From an old high school Latin class: O sibili der dego fortibus es enero. O nobili demis trux. Vatis inem cowsen dux. Oh see Billy, there they go, forty busses in a row. Oh no Billy, them is trucks. What is in them? Cows and ducks.
There's also the very similar "Civile se ergo Fortibus es in ero O nobile deus trux Vadis enem causan dux"note "See, Willy, see 'er go, forty buses in a row." "Oh, no, Billy, dey is trucks. What is in 'em?" "Cows and ducks.", which looks a bit more like real Latin.
Caesar adsum jam forte, Brutus aderat. Caesar sic in omnibus, Brutus sic in at. Caesar had some jam for tea, Brutus had a rat. Caesar sick in omnibus, Brutus sick in hat.
A whole Japanese ninja clan was discovered and destroyed because of Latin language. They were about to infiltrate a Christian daimyo's castle at night. Too bad the password of the guards was Pax vobiscumLat. "Peace upon you" (containing three phonems which are very difficult for the Japanese to pronounce, namely ks, v and sk). The guards got suspicious and found 132 ninja at the dry moat...
If you find it useful in conversation use this Universal Translatorhere, apply a little inventiveness and you will have a Latin saying for whenever you want it.
While French was thelingua franca in most European countries around 17th century, the nobility of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth would still use Latin in that capacity. Even the most uncultured, backwater nobleman knew at least a few words and some basics of Latin grammar; Latin macaronisms were often used for emphasis in everyday conversations, and the more Latin you used, the more important you sounded...
The law in Western countries (as mentioned in a few of the examples) is in love with seemingly random uses of Latin, derived from the old days when that was the language the lawyers (being educated people) used to do their business. Seemingly random, as the Latinisms go from the more or less unnecessary to the slightly more justified to the indispensable. For instance:
Basically unnecessary: Ignorantia juris non excusat, an old legal maxim, doesn't say anything the ordinary English phrase "Ignorance of the law is no excuse" couldn't say just as well.
Semi-justified: Certiorari, which means a notice filed with a lower court that its decision is being appealed. "Certification" could work and is used in some jurisdictions—e.g. California—but since "certification" has other meanings in the lawnote For instance, in the US certain issues have to be decided under state law even if the case is brought in federal court, and so in most states allow the federal courts to "certify" a question of that state's law to the state supreme court in cases where state law is unclear and the other alternatives (writ of review, leave to appeal, and other permutations on that) are a bit clunky and (more importantly) don't abbreviate to the traditional "cert.", the old Latin has a reason to stay.
Completely necessary: Qui tam (short for Qui tam pro domino rege quam pro se ipso in hac parte sequitur, "He who as much for our lord the King as much as for himself pursues this action"), a term for a particular kind of case in which (in essence) private parties sue someone to enforce government regulatory policy (common in "whistleblower" cases against contractors who defrauded the government, cases by shareholders against corporate managers where violation of securities laws is implicated, and private civil suits to enforce antitrust/competition law) and expects to receive some or all of the punitive damages imposed on the defendant should they, the plaintiffs, win the case.note The idea behind qui tam is that it gives individuals and companies an incentive to enforce the law all on their own, without the government having to spend money on it. Obviously, this complex thing needs its own name; just as obviously, the literal translation of the Latin qui tam, "[he] who as much," and even the less literal "[he] who sues" is wholly inadequate as a name for anything, and more or less nothing else presents itself as a likely name.
If that's not enough, The Common Lawseems to think this about Old French, and so there is a great deal of Gratuitous French among the lawyers of the English-speaking countries. This ranges from words people don't even think of as being "not English" because they're heard so often in everyday conversation (e.g. "culprit," "attorney," and everybody's favorite, "mortgage") to things only lawyers can adequately explain (e.g. "estoppel," literally meaning "stopper," i.e. "You said that before, so no take-backs!").
Quite a few titles trace their roots back to Latin used by the Romans and continue to see use to this day, such as "Senator" (referred to members of the Senātus, or the Senate as we'd say in English), "Pastor" (now a title for a type of Christian clergyman, it's Latin for "Shepherd"), "Doctor" (means the same in Latin.), and of course the numerous variations on "Caesar", in reference to Gaius Julius Caesar, referring to the head of an empire (The German title of "Kaiser" comes as close as anyone does to pronouncing Caesar's name correctly.)
In 1845, a boy named Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (who would later create his better-known Pen Name by translating the Latinization of his name back into English) inscribed the following on one of his schoolbooks:
PRAEFATIO. Hic liber ad Carolum Ludrigum Dodsonum pertinet. O Lector! cave ne illum capias, nam latro Jovi est odius. Ecce! Lat. PREFACE. This book belongs to Charles Lutwidge Dodgson. O reader! Take care not to steal it, for a thief is odious to Jove. Behold!