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Well, nothing can dictate pretentious credibility compared to a Latin motto. It's supposed to confer prestige, but Latin often gives off that "we're so much smarter
, richer and generally more awesome than you" vibe, hence the tendency to consider it pretentious to use a Cicero Latino Ambitiosa
can be used in place of actual Latin
for comedic purposes. If the translation isn't given, this becomes a Bilingual Bonus
. See also Altum Videtur
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- X-Men: Xavier Institute - Mutatis Mutandis (Roughly, "having changed the things that were to be changed", but obviously playing off the word "mutant")
- And for their Marvel 1602 counterpart, Master Carlos Javier's Institute takes the mottoe "Omnia mutantur, et nos mutamos con illis" (All things change, and we change with them).
- Watchmen: Per Dolorem Ad Astra, to the stars, through suffering.
- And of course the title of the story comes from the phrase 'Quis custodiet ipsos custodes,' or, who watches the watchmen?
- Carmine Falcone's grave in Batman: Dark Victory bears the epitaph "Veni Vidi Vici," or "I came, I saw, I conquered" (Chief O'Hara pronounces it "Vinny Veedee Vicky").
- V for Vendetta, both book and movie: "Vi Veri Veniversum Vivus Vici", "By the power of truth I, while living, have conquered the universe". From Faust, as told immediately afterwards, and quite an appropriate motto for V.
- Bonus points for having five words: in Roman numerals, the symbol for five is... V
- It was also one of Aleister Crowley's magical mottoes.
- In The DCU, the Antimatter Universe counterpart of the Justice League of America, the Crime Syndicate of Amerika has as its motto "Cui Bono?" (Who Profits?)
- And they have one in the New 52 as well: "Aeternus Malum. Forever Evil."
- "Carpe saccharum" is L's motto in Kira Sweetheart.
- In chapter four of the Harry Potter Marauder-era fanfiction Remus Lupin: BAMF, Sirius tells Remus that the Marauders' motto is "Ita erat quando hic adveni", meaning "It was that way when I got here."
- In Disney High School, the school's motto (seen on the title page) is Somnia Fiat Vera, which means "Dreams Come True."
- "To Absent Friends" borrows a leaf out of Discworld. The USS Bajor's motto is apparently "Morituri Nolumus Mori", roughly "We who are about to die, don't want to."
- The Discworld novels often mock this trope, with "Latatian" mottoes, such as the motto of the city of Anhk-Morpork: "Quanti canicula ille in fenestra'': "How Much is That Doggy in the Window"
- The Watch's motto, "Fabricati diem, pvnc". According to Colon in Guards! Guards!, it translates as "To protect and to serve", but it's actually Canis Latinicus for "Make my day, punk."
- Apparently abbreviated from the watch's original motto - "Fabricati Diem, Puncti Agunt Celeriter" - 'Make the Day, the Moments pass Quickly'.
- Also according to the Discworld Companion, the new Watch motto is 'Viae sunt semper tutus pro hominibus probis' - 'The Streets Are Always Safe for Honest Folk'. It's not clear what Vimes thinks about this, given that The City Watch Diary stated he previously vetoed the motto "The Innocent Have Nothing To Fear" on the grounds that "the innocent had a great deal to fear, partly from the guilty, and partly from the sort of people who think the innocent have nothing to fear".
- The motto of Unseen University is "Nunc id vides, nunc ne vides"— now you see it, now you don't.
- Unseen University's unofficial motto is "Eta Beta Pi" ("Eat a better pie", or possibly "Eat a bit of pie"). Fitting considering the legendary feasts that take place within the University.
- Feet of Clay has several family mottos, the biggest groaner surely being the baker's, "Quod Subigo Farinam" ("Because I knead the dough"). The person coming up with the mottos for upstart commoners purchasing arms did this sort of thing on purpose in disgust.
- In the same scene, a deprecated coat of arms is described as being "Excretus Ex Est Altitudine" and "Depositatum De Latrina", Canis Latinicus for respectively "shat on from a great height" and "dropped down the toilet".
- The motto of the Dunmanifestin mission in The Last Hero is "Morituri Nolumus Mori" - "We who are about to die don't want to". Needless to say, it was suggested by Rincewind.
- Vetinari lets it stand because it's actually a pretty good motto for a mission to Save The World.
- The motto of the Ankh-Morpork Fools' Guild is "Dico, dico, dico" - "I say, I say, I say..."
- Assassins' guild: "Nil Mortifi Sine Lucre" (No killing without payment).
- The guild of Seamstresses has a very similar mottor, "Nil Volupti Sine Lucre" (No pleasure without payment).
- The Sto-Helits go with the unsubtle "Non Timetis Messor": "Don't Fear The Reaper", also a Shout-Out to Blue Oyster Cult. See Real Life, below.
- In Small Gods, the Quisition's unwritten motto is "Cuius testiculos habes, habeas cardia et cerebellum" - "When you have their balls (translated to "full attention") in your grip, their hearts and minds will follow".
- The Other Wiki has a collated list of Guilds, together with their mottos as cobbled together from various sources. Highlights include the Alchemists ("Omnis Qui Coruscat Est Or" - "All That Glitters Is Gold"), Conjurers ("Nunc Ille Est Magicus" - "Now That's Magic!", a Paul Daniels reference) and the Gamblers ("Excretus Ex Fortuna" - "Shit Out Of Luck").
- Lampshaded by Vimes in Jingo, when he suspects that General Tacticus's "Veni Vidi Vici" is too pat for anyone to make up on the spot, so must've been chosen in advance from a variety of alliterative phrases. Possible Dog Latin alternatives Vimes thinks of, that Tacticus might've rejected, include "Veni Vermini Vomiti" ("I came, I got ratted [drunk], I threw up") or "Veni Veneri Vamoosi" ("I came, I caught an embarrassing sexual disease, I left").
- Lord Vetinari's: Veni, Vici, VETINARI.
- Jingo also gives us a rather Ozymandiannote piece of Canis Latinicus from Tacticus, that is equal parts boast, threat and Stock Phrase: "Ab hoc videre domum tuum" ("I can see your house from here")
- In Thud! someone asks Vimes "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?" (translated as "Who watches the watchmen?", as above). Vimes' answer? "Me."
- Also, the Vetinari family motto-"Si non confectus, non reficiat."- If it ain't broke, don't fix it
- Artemis Fowl's family motto is Aurum Est Potestas - Gold is power. Borders on Dog Latin, since while the sentence would be perfectly intelligible and theoretically even correct to a Latin-speaker, the preferred word order (Subject-Object-Verb) would have been Aurum potestas est.
- The alternate word order might be suggestive of emphasis, i.e. "Gold is Power" vs "It is GOLD that is Power"
- Interestingly, in the German translation, the word order actually got switched around. Apparently, the translator spoke Latin...
- Harry Potter: The school motto for Hogwarts is Draco Dormiens Nunquam Titillandus: A Sleeping Dragon Never Should be Tickled. J. K. Rowling has said she wanted Hogwarts to have a "practical motto" instead of something like "reach for the stars".
- The Black family motto is Toujours Pur or "always pure". This is French rather than Latin, but hey, so is Britain's motto (Dieu et mon droit—"God and My right").
- The Onion - Our Dumb Century uses Tu Stultus EsLat. in the masthead of its "older" editions. Upon reaching the modern era, the paper acknowledges the "dumbing-down" of America by switching to the English equivalent.
- A Series of Unfortunate Events: The motto of Prufrock Preparatory school is "Memento Mori" which is translated as "Remember, you will die."
- In Edgar Allan Poe's The Cask of Amontillado, the narrator's family motto is "Nemo me impune lacessit", "No-one attacks me with impunity".
- Which is also the royal Scottish motto.
- Outlander: The Fraser family motto is Je suis prest, which translates to "I am ready". French is perhaps not as pretentious as Latin, but it is Middle French (as used in old-school English heraldry and mottos) as opposed to modern French (in which prest has become prêt).
- In Robert A. Heinlein's juvenile Space Cadet, the Space Patrol's motto is "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes." (Translated in the novel as "Who will guard the guardians?")
- The North Western Railway's motto is "Nil Unquam Simile" - There's nothing quite like it. Appropriate for a railway company still using primarily steam traction into the 21st century, and doing quite well.
- The Parasol Protectorate book Soulless claims that the motto of the main secret society as "to protect the commonwealth". Since the original text is "Protego res publica", it's more like "I defend the commonwealth".
- In Monster Hunter International, the titular organization's motto is "sic transit gloria mundi" ("the glory of man is fleeting"). When the narrator of most of the series first learns this, there is an explanation as to why this is meaningful.
- James Branch Cabell's character Dom Manuel has the personal motto of Mundus Vult Decipi, which translates to "The World Wishes To Be Deceived". This is from a longer motto attributed to the Roman satirist Petronius, who lived in the first century AD: Mundus vult decipi, ergo decipiatur, "The world wishes to be deceived, so let it be decieved".
Live Action TV
- The Middle Man: Pugnantes Malos, no hos Pugnetis: We Fight Evil So You Don't Have To
- Starfleet Command's motto is Ad Astra Per Aspera (Through Adversity to the Stars).
- This also happens to be the state motto of Kansas.
- And, more to the point, of the Royal Air Force, the Royal Canadian Air Force, the Royal Australian Air Force, Royal New Zealand Air Force
- And a high school in Bendigo, Australia.
- The motto for Starfleet Academy is "Ex astris, scientia" (From the stars, knowledge). It was originally given as "Ex astra, scientia", until someone pointed out that this was a grammatical error.
- Which is in turn a reference to the Apollo 13 motto "Ex luna, scientia"
- Also a reference to the US Naval Academy's motto, "Ex scientia tridens": From knowledge, a trident (literally)/seapower (figuratively).
- There's also the motto on the NX-02 Columbia mission patch, Audentes Fortuna Juvat (Fortune Favours the Bold), on Star Trek: Enterprise.
- The motto of the Terran Empire is Audentes Fortuna Imperii (The bold are the fortune of the Empire).
- The motto of Earth Starfleet is Semper Exploro (Always exploring).
- Starfleet Academy's motto is "Ex Astris, Scientia" (From the stars, knowledge).
- Quando Omni Flunkus Moritati (When all else fails, play dead) makes a hilariously appropriate motto for The Red Green Show 's Possum Lodge.
- Veridian Dynamics in Better Off Ted has one of these-
Veronica: "Money before people." That's the company motto, engraved on the lobby floor. It just looks more heroic in Latin.
- Rory McGrath and Bill Oddie planned to do a show together based around a Birdwatcher (Bill) and his eager assistant (Rory). Rory planned to call the show "Panori Biamici", derived by pluralizing "Panurus biarmicus", the bearded tit (i.e. 'bearded tits'). When he mentioned this on QI, Sean Locke mocked him mercilessly.
Sean: There's probably about six blokes in Oxford who'd have gone 'heh heh'.
- In 2002, the then-editor of The Daily Telegraph, Campbell Reid, sent Media Watch host David Marr a dead fish; a replica of it is now awarded as the Campbell Reid Perpetual Trophy for the Brazen Recycling of Other People's Work. Known as "The Barra" and bearing the motto Carpe Verbatim ("Seize word-for-word"), it is awarded annually for bad journalism and particularly plagiarism (a practice for which Reid was frequently criticised).
- Played with on Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
Willow: Carpe diem!
Buffy: Fish of the day???
- In a darker vein, the inscription over the entrance at Sunnydale High School reads "Formatia trans sicere educatorum" ("Enter all ye who seek knowledge"), which Angelus used as an invitation (vampires in the Buffyverse can only enter a building once invited). However, Angelus was just having fun, as no invitation is required to enter public buildings, only places where people live.
- On the set of The Colbert Report, the inscription above the fireplace reads "Videri Quam Esse"—-translation: "to seem to be rather than to be." It's a play on "Esse quam videri," which is the real-life motto of quite a few different US and UK schools and the state of North Carolina (which borders his home state of South Carolina), and fits the man who identified "truthiness" and "wikiality": the concept, becoming part of political discourse, that if something seems true, that's better than its actually being true.
- Also fits the fact that Colbert almost never breaks character, despite playing a persona very different from his true self.
- Queer as Folk has a nice and very subtle one. In a behind-the-scenes feature about the costumes in the US series, it's pointed out that St James Academy, the one that Justin goes to, has a Latin motto on its logo: "Veni, veni, veni." Now if that doesn't fit the show!
- A High Guard branch (specifically, the Argosy Special Operations Service) in Andromeda had "Una Salus Victus" as its motto. This is considering the Commonwealth was not founded by humans and would thus have no reason to have a motto in a dead human language. A motto in Vedran would make a lot more sense. It's actually short for "una salus victis nullam sperare salutem" ("the only safety for the conquered is to hope for no safety").
- In season 2 of Community, the study group's flag and motto get chosen in a contest for Greendale Flag. The picture is of a pinkish circle with the words "E. Pluribus Anus". No, the Dean doesn't get it.
- CSI: Crime Scene Investigation: In one episode, a group calling themselves "the praetorians" has the motto "caveat praetoriani" which supposedly means "beware the praetorians". After one of them is arrested for murder, Grissom points out that the grammar is wrong (it actually means "praetorians beware").
- In The Vicar of Dibley, the Horton family motto is "Veni, vidi, brutus spearium gloriosus," which is Dog Latin for (in David Horton's words) "I came, I saw, I tore the thick bastard limb from limb."
- In The Annals of Improbable Research, the parody advertisements for HMO-NO (formerly HMO Black) featured an emblem with the motto "Medica Gratia Pecuniae" (medicine for money's sake).
- P.D.Q. Bach's joke-loving patron, Prince Fred of the House of Hangover, had the family motto "id intellege?", Latin for "Get it?"
- In A Prairie Home Companion, the motto of Garrison Keillor's fictional hometown of Lake Wobegon, Minnesota is "Sumus Quod Sumus", or "We are what we are." Or, alternatively, "We are because we are."
- Vampire: The Masquerade had the regal, aristocratic Ventrue: "Regere sanguine, regere in veritatem est." ("To rule through blood is to truly rule.")
- Their Evil-er Counterpart, the Lasombra, naturally have their own, briefer version: "Morte Ascendo." ("I rise through death." Which is interesting, considering the fate of their Antediluvian and all...)
- The Dungeons & Dragons Min-Maxing community took a vote on an unofficial motto, and adopted Dulce et decorum est pro alea mori: "It is sweet and fitting that we die for the dice". Yes, we do like puns.
- Players of Diplomacy frequently joke that the game's motto ought to be "Carpe Terram" (Seize the World), or at the very least "Carpe Europam" (should be obvious).
- The Inquisition in Warhammer 40,000 gets a motto that's more ominous than pretentious, and which fits both the setting and their work perfectly - Innocentia Nihil Probat: "Innocence Proves Nothing"
- In The Dark Eye the motto of house Karinor is "Sequere Cupiditatem (Follow the/your passion)".
- Twilight Imperium has "Pax Magnifica, Bellum Gloriosum" ("Peace is magnificent, war is glorious").
- In RuneScape, Wise Old Man says Vini; volui; mihi est (I came; I wanted; it's mine).
- Battlefield: Bad Company has the mercenary company's motto: Acta non Verba - "deeds, not words."
- Bungie is fond of those, with tongue firmly in cheek. Their official motto is Non facete nobis calcitrare vestrum perinaeum: "Don't make us kick your asses."
- Between puns on the number four and the enemy names (the Pfhor), and Beavis And Butthead references, level names for the Marathon trilogy include Ingue Ferroque (an admitted misspelling of Igni Ferroque, by fire and steel), Fatum Iustum Stultorum (the just fate of fools), Ne Cede Malis (don't give in to misfortune)
- One of a more serious tone is used for the UNSC Spirit of Fire in the RTS Halo Wars: "Exitus Acta Probat" - "The end justifies the means".
- Hostile Waters - Antaeus Rising. If the name of the Cool Ship wasn't pretentious enough, the motto is Pugio in Averso Belli (a dagger used against war).
- Works well given the storyline, though.
- Bully has Bullworth Academy, and the motto Canis Canem Edit, "dog eats dog". Canis Canem Edit is the game's Market-Based Title in Britain.
- LucasArts' adventure game Escape from Monkey Island features the phrase "Contra Leges Marinas Latrocinium Maris Est" above the (one) cell in the Lucre Island jail. Examining it prompts Guybrush Threepwood to offer several suggestions of what it means, including "buyer beware," "seize the day," and "no admittance." It roughly means "piracy is against the law of the sea."
- The Midnight Club in City of Heroes uses the phrase "Si vis pacem, para bellum" (If you wish for peace, prepare for war) as a password.
- "Memento Mori" is the tagline of Persona 3. The game runs this motto through the whole gamut of meanings: despite being able to summon forth nearly godlike powers, "remember that you are mortal," and you can't escape the ultimate fate which cannot be escaped from. Even though you're living in the flower of your youth, "remember that you are mortal," and thus, life is fleeting. But most importantly, "remember that you are mortal," so make the best of it and live to the fullest while you can.
- Remember you are mortal, because when the Main Character obtains the power of The Universe (Essentially becoming a Physical God), he dies anyway.
- Sword of the Stars plays with this trope a bit: While the official motto of the human faction in the game is "Per Ardua Ad Astra", a straight example that means "Through Hardship, the Stars" (humanity's first steps into FTL coincided with the Earth nearly getting destroyed by a Hiver fleet), the game's tagline and the unofficial motto of humanity is the somewhat more playful "Repensum Est Canicula" — literally, "Payback is a Bitch".
- Taken further actually: Latin has become humanity's second official language in the setting, partly because it's an extremely easy language to learn and utilize, but mostly because it just sounds epic.
- And the Roman Catholic Church is largest surviving religion.
- The Protoss Scouts of the Venatir tribe follow the maxim Praemonitus praemunitus, which translates to "Forewarned is Forearmed".
- LOST: The Game was released as Lost: Via Domus in the United States, but the title was changed for the European release after several critics pointed out that the Pretentious Latin Motto was badly mangled: what they intended to mean "The Way Home" actually became "Road House" somehow.
- In Team Fortress 2, the Demoman, a one-eyed black man with a Scottish accent, is part of a clan of black Scottish cyclopes. The clan's motto is "In regione caecorum rex est luscus", which roughly translates as "In the realm of the blind, the one eyed man is king." Ironically, most of the family loses both of their eyes before 30 years of age.
- Batman: Arkham Asylum features a large Latin phrase above the puppet Scarface's tommygun — "Mors Certa, Hora Incerta", meaning "Death is Certain, its Hour is Not" — in addition to many others.
- There's also the inscription over the Green Mile area: Liberate Me Ex Infernis. "Save me from Hell."
- Mirrors Edge gives the City government "Finis Coronat Opus", 'The end crowns the work'. It feels safer already.
- In the ancient TRS-80 game Galactic Revolution, the flag for DuBuque's forces read "SEMPER UBI SUB UBI". This is a classic Latin-to-English pun: The phrase translates to "alwaye where under where", which is nonsense in Latin, but sounds like the English sentence "Always wear underwear.". (Which is good advice; you might get run over by a truck.)
- In Deus Ex, the UNATCO handbook is prefaced with a quote by Publilius Syrus: Nihil aliud scit necessitas quam vincere, meaning "necessity knows no other law but how to conquer," an early hint to just how sinister UNATCO's ideology is.
- The Majestic 12 Cyberinformation Warfare Division has the motto Ipsa scientia potestas est - "Knowledge itself is power."
- The eponymous project's motto in XCOM: Enemy Unknown is "Vigilo, Confido", which can be best translated as "I am watchful. I am relied upon." The Enemy Within Expansion Pack adds "Mutare Ad Custodiam" (Change to Guard) and "Bellator In Machina" (Warrior in the Machine) for the new Genetics and Cybernetics branches of XCOM, respectively.
- The same motto ("Vigilo, Confido") is used by the 60s XCOM in The Bureau: XCOM Declassified, although the logo is focused on the US instead of being more generic. Justified, as the original XCOM was created as a reserve command center in case of a Soviet invasion. Since the game is implied to be a prequel of sorts to Firaxis's XCOM, the new XCOM may have intentionally kept the motto.
- In Sluggy Freelance Nosce te Ipsum: Know Thyself, was a Pretentious Latin Motto that was also used as a trigger phrase for the Ax-Crazy Dark Action Girl Oasis.
- This becomes her Madness Mantra when her Yandere streak comes to the fore and she attempts to kill Zoe. Interestingly, it also prevents her from following through, as she stops dead in her tracks when she's finally forced to admit to herself that she has no idea what she is.
- Gunnerkrigg Court doesn't seem to have a motto, but the hallway outside the classroom where Mort hangs out has a large plaque that reads Dulce et decorum est; a reference to a line from the poet Horace: "Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori"; "How sweet and fitting it is to die for one's country."
- The treatise page following Chapter 7 has a banner across the top: Ora lege relege labora et invenies; "Pray, read, read again, work, and you shall find."
- Lampshaded in The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!: the motto of the science department of Generictown University is "Quidquid Latine dictum sit, altum viditur," literally, "Anything said in Latin sounds profound."
- The motto of St. Dyphn(i)a Academy is Abte Schola, Fatuus ("Go To School, Dummy!")
- In S.S.D.D the motto of the Collective of Anarchist States' elite forces is "Omnis Vir Enim Sui", ("Every man for himself").
- The motto of Smithson College in Smithson is "Facite Aenigmata, Non Expositiones" ("Create enigmas, not explanations").
- Doctor Horribles Sing Along Blog has for the Evil League of Evil "Homines Non Boni Seriose"—roughly, "Seriously Not Good Guys."
- According to one of the official Red vs. Blue t-shirts, Project Freelancer's is "Roboris Per Scientia" (strength through science).
- An episode of George of the Jungle had two villains cut a hole in the floor of George's treehouse and hit him over the head when he fell through it. The smarter crook explained it to Ursula with a parodic translation of Caesar's famous line, "We came, we sawed, we conked him!"
- In Pasila, the drawing room of an evil aristocrats' club bears the Vulgate Latin for "The tongue of the just is as choice silver: but the heart of the wicked is nothing worth."
- Phineas and Ferb seem to have adopted "Carpe Diem" as the show's unofficial motto — it keeps getting slipped into musical numbers and dialogue, and even gets an entire song about it in "Rollercoaster: The Musical". "Seize the Day" certainly fits the show's theme.
- Parodied in The Simpsons - the motto of Springfield U is "Ask about our Latin motto competition."
- Not to mention Mayor-for-life Quimby's motto - Corruptus in extremis, "Corruption in high places". At least he's honest about it, although he can afford to be.
- And Shelbyville Elementary's motto, "Veritas et Scientia" ("Truth and Knowledge").
- The South Park Planetarium's motto is Me transmitte sursum, Caledoni!
- An episode of The Real Ghostbusters has the team busting a ghost at Peter's old college. His fraternity was Tri Cuppa Bru. ("try cup of brew").
- A Bugs Bunny/Wile E. Coyote cartoon has the coyote after the common western rabbit. "Rabbitus Idioticus Delicious...I believe that's the scientific term."
- In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012), Roosevelt High's motto is "Aut Disce Aut Discede" ("Learn or Leave").
- The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo episode "That's Monstertainment" had Scooby and the gang sucked into an old black-and-white monster movie, which opens with a mock-up of the M-G-M logo. Scooby's face is in the middle circle with the words "Limitus Animatus" around it.
- The mottoes of old European noble families are almost always in Latin. Often it wasn't particularly pretentious at the time the motto was chosen, as speaking Latin would've been a standard part of a noble's education.
- Harvard University's motto on its crest is "Veritas" (Truth). Crosstown M.I.T. enjoys changing the crest to read "HackUs", Hack being MIT slang for prank.
- Princeton University's motto is Dei sub numine viget — roughly, "Under God she prospers", but campus folklore insists the proper translation is "God went to Princeton".
- The Princeton Tiger, the campus humor magazine, once suffered a complete purge of its officers due to a deliberate misquote of Caesar's famous "Veni, vidi, vici": In an issue published during the late 1940s, a cartoon appeared depicting two coeds of the period, one of whom has obviously just gotten home from a date. Proudly, she declares to her roommate: "Vidi, vici, veni" — "I saw, I conquered, I came." The University administration was not amused.
- Averted with Cornell University. While the rest of its Ivy League counterparts, as well as most of the other schools with similar academic reputations have have Pretentious Latin Mottos, Cornell has a plain English one: "I would found an institution where any person can find instruction in any study."
- In fact, all members of the Ivy League except Cornell have Latin mottos—except Yale, which is doubly pretentious because it has a Latin and a Hebrew motto (the Hebrew motto—Urim V'Tummim—is from 1 Samuel; the Latin—Lux et Vertias, meaning "Light and Truth"—is a rough translation of the notoriously difficult-to-translate Hebrew phrase).
- The University of California's motto is technically Fiat lux. However, it's apparently considered too obscure, as even on most versions of the university seal they switched to the English, "Let there be light!"
- Maybe too many people snicker at seeing "Fiat" in the same sentence as "lux", or maybe the electrics packed in again; someone once claimed that "Fiat Lux" meant "My small Italian car is on fire!"
- Likewise, the University of Washington's motto is "Lux sit" ("Let there be light") Sit, Lux, sit! Good dog!
- Older public universities in the US tend to have these; for instance, there's the University of Michigan's Artes Scientia Veritas ("Arts, Science, Truth") and Rutgers University's Sol iustitiae et occidentem illustra ("Sun of Righteousness, shine upon the West also").
- Stanford University in Palo Alto, California has a pretentious German motto, "Die Luft der Freiheit weht", meaning "The wind of freedom blows." It was adopted in the very early 20th century when German was known for being one of the most authoritative languages of cutting edge science.
- Stan Freberg's Latin motto is "Ars gratia pecuniae," meaning "Art for money's sake."
- Brooklyn College has the motto of "Nil sine magno labore", "Nothing without great labor".
- Rice University in Houston specifically chose to use its founder's dedication of "Letters, Science, Art" in English, rather than Latin as a Take That to Harvard. It was supposed to mean that the school offered useful education without pretense. Played straight in that one of the residential colleges does have a Pretentious Latin Motto, specifically Brown ("Tende bene alta pete"note )
- Gallaudet University, the first post-secondary institution for the deaf in the world, one ups everyone with a pretentious motto in Chaldean: Ephphatha (be opened)
- Actually, let's just say that universities in general around the world love this trope. Just look at some samples on this list.
- Caveat emptor: Buyer beware. There's a Calvin and Hobbes one about this, but it shows up in quite a few places if you look.
- A Greek-temple inspired building across the street from Amsterdam's largest cinema sports: "homo sapiens non urinat in ventum" which, though grammatically incorrect was supposed to translate to "a wise man shouldn't piss against the wind". The architect had put it on one of his designs as a joke, but the contractor (ignorant of Latin) got the wrong design.
- Averted by the United States of America. For almost 200 years, "E pluribus unum," meaning "Out of many, one," was considered America's de facto motto, being a literal and poetic description of The Federation formed from different states, peoples, and ideologies. However, in 1956 Congress officially declared "In God We Trust" to be the official motto of the nation because of the Red Scare, with atheists being associated with hippies and communists.
- Nevertheless, E pluribus unum is still considered to be a de facto second motto, seeing as it continues to appear on the Great Seal (which is where the idea that it was the motto comes from in the first place) and most US currency.
- Somewhat amusingly, one of the first recorded uses of the phrase is in a poem attributed to Vergil entitled "Moretum", which is a recipe for an herb-and-cheese spread called moretum, a distant ancestor of pesto. The context is describing how the variously-colored ingredients (green herbs, white garlic, variously-colored nuts, amber oil, cream-white cheese) come, through grinding, into a single-color paste (and a delicious one too—hey, it's an ancestor to pesto! Who doesn't like pesto?).
- 22 American statesnote plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, have Latin mottos, including:
- Michigan: Si quaeris amoenam paeninsulam, circumspice: "If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you." Of course, which peninsula do they mean? (It's a reference to Sir Christopher Wren's epitaph...)
- New Mexico: Crescit eundo: "It grows as it goes." (It's about a lightning bolt, we swear.)
- West Virginia: For one of the most down-to-earth states in the country (literally, with an economy and an identity built on mining), West Virginia is doubly pretentious by having two Latin mottoes, a "main" motto and a second one on the reverse of its Great Seal. The main motto, Montani semper libri, "Mountaineers are always free," refers to the state's terrain (entirely within the Appalachian Mountains); the secondary motto, Libertas et fidelitate, means "Freedom and Loyalty," referring to the aforementioned freedom and also the reason for the state's existence—the region's overwhelming loyalty to the Union during The American Civil War that led it to secede from Virginia and become a Union state.
- DC and PR's mottoes are particularly interesting: DC's is Justitia Omnibus ("Justice for All"), fitting for the capital but overshadowed these days by the protesting unofficial motto, "[No] Taxation Without Representation" (a sore point in the District). PR's is Joannes est nomen eius ("John is his name"), which references the name of the capital/the old name of the island San Juan (St. John in English, after John the Baptist) and is the oldest motto in the country (it dates from 1511).
- "Semper fidelis": "always faithful"; so closely associated with the Marines that even our trope name for the organization is Semper Fi.
- Some regiments in the U.S. Army and Coast Guard use a similar motto, "Semper paratus" ("always ready").
- Of course, the US Navy's Landing Signal Officer school's motto is "Rectum Non Bustus": "Don't Bust Your Ass"; which considering the job they perform is totally appropriate.
- Many of the units throughout the American armed forces use Latin mottos, usually doubling as Badass Boasts:
- The 22d Air Refueling Wing has used "Ducemus"note since the days when it was a bomber group in World War II.
- The US Air Force Security Forces has "Defensor Fortis", officially translated as "Defenders of the Force".
- The nation of Canada has "A Mari Usque Ad Mare,"note which is not only pretentious for being Latin but doubly so for being taken from The Bible (Psalms 72:8), the full line being "Et dominabitur a mari usque ad mare, et a flumine usque ad terminos terrae."note Said quote is also where the full title of the country, the Dominion of Canada, is from.
- The Order of Canada, the ribbon/circlet of which appears on the arms of Canada much as the Order of the Garter's...garter...appears on the British arms, has the suitably pretentiously Latin motto Desiderantes Meliorem Patriam, meaning "They desire a better country." This is also Biblical, specifically Hebrews 11:16.
- Nine of the ten Canadian provinces have Latin mottos:
- Newfoundland and Labrador: Quaerite primum regnum Dei: "Seek ye first the kingdom of God" (also doubly pretentious, since this is Matthew 6:33)
- Nova Scotia: Munit haec et altera vincit: "One defends and the other conquers". Fitting for a colony whose very name is pretentious Latin for "New Scotland".
- Prince Edward Island: Parva sub ingenti: "The small under the protection of the great."
- New Brunswick: Spem reduxit: "Hope was restored." (Refers to the feeling of the United Empire Loyalists from the Thirteen Colonies who arrived there during The American Revolution and successfully petitioned for its partition from Nova Scotia.)
- Ontario: Ut incipit fidelis, sic permanet: "Loyal she began, loyal she remains" (A reference to the United Empire Loyalists who played a significant part in the establishment of the province.)
- Manitoba: Gloriousus et liber: "Glorious and Free": from "O Canada".
- Saskatchewan: Multibus e gentis vires: "From many peoples, strength." Refers originally to the anglophones, francophones, First Nations, and Metis who lived in the province to start with. Today people just think of Ukrainians.
- Alberta: Fortis et Liber: "Strong and Free": Also from "O Canada".
- British Columbia: Splendor sine occasu: "Splendour Undiminished"
- The only province with a non-Latin motto is Quebec, which opts for the haunting French Je me souviens: "I remember". They put that on their license plates. (The two older territories have no motto; Nunavut opts for the Inuktitut "Nunavut sannginivut", i.e. "Our Land/Nunavut (same thing), our strength".)
- Stephen Colbert's motto is "Videri quam Esse", or "To seem rather than to be". The Fear Medals Stephen handed out at the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear had the motto "Cave ne sit cadmium," meaning "Warning: may contain cadmium." Jon Stewart's Medals of Reasonableness read "Sit Vis Nobiscum" (may the Force be with us).
- The Swedish Army Music Corps has an association for its discharged members. The association bears the proud motto "Ante Melior Erat" (It was better before), the "Before" being the time in the Army.
- Averted with England (and later Britain) which uses Old French mottoes: Dieu et mon Droit ("God and my Right") and Honi soit qui mal y pense ("Woe upon he that thinks ill of it" or "Evil be to he who evil thinks", for the Order of the Garter, which appears on the non-Scottish variant of the royal arms). Scotland however does use a Latin motto, Nemo me impune lacessit - "No one insults me with impunity" and also the English/Scots 'In Defens God Me Defend', which is an old Scots prayer: "In defens God me defend/and bring my saul to ane guid end/ane virtuous life procureth ane happy death." The Prince of Wales' motto is German, of all things (it's Ich dien, meaning "I serve").
- It's fitting that Scotland has that motto in that language, considering that Hadrian's Wall, near the Scottish/English border, is the point where the Roman Empire said "Fuck it, these people are too tough for us."
- You might think that the Prince of Wales' motto being in German has something to do with the fact that Britain's monarch has been from a German dynasty since 1714. However, the motto dates back to Edward the Black Prince, the second English heir apparent to be given the title, way back in the mid-14th century; he used the motto and its associated feathers on his jousting shield.
- It originally was the motto of King John the Blind of Bohemia, who fell fighting the English at Crécy. The Black Prince liked it and took it as his own.
- Some English and British monarchs however used Latin mottos, e. g. Elizabeth I had Semper eadem (always the same, i. e. always true to herself) and James I (James VI of Scotland) had Beati pacifici (blessed are the peacemakers).
- Under Oliver Cromwell's republican regime, the motto of the Commonwealth of England was Pax quaeritur bello, literally "Peace is sought by war".
- The Dutch royal family have the Old French motto: "Je maintiendrai", "I will maintain."
- It may be old, but it still is perfectly valid in Modern French.
- Some people have as their personal motto the fake "Latin" motto "Illegitemis nil carborundum" — "don't let the bastards grind you down", originally from The Handmaid's Tale. (Carborundum is actually a trademark for silicon carbide, and the first word is also suspect.)
- A classicist once attempted to translate it into proper Latin, coming up with Noli nothis permittere te terere.
- It's certainly used in "The Handmaid's Tale", and that may have popularised it, but it's much older. This is probably an example of a trope, but I can't remember which.
- The U.S. state of Virginia uses Sic semper tyrannis ("thus always to tyrants"), in reference to its seal, which depicts the figure of Virtue standing over the fallen figure of Tyranny.note The phrase is attributed to Brutus, who supposedly said it after assassinating Caesar.
- Wymondham College, a British boarding school, uses the motto 'Floreat Sapientia'-let wisdom flourish.
- This is a favourite of public schools, eg Floreat Rugbeia (overlapping with Dog Latin, let Rugby Flourish), Floreat Etona (" Eton "), as well as other Latin mottoes - Charterhouse for instance, has Deo Dante Dedi - God Giving I Gave, Harrow has Stet Fortuna Domus, Let the Fortunes of the House Stand.
- British state schools avert this, tending ot English or in Scotland Gaelic.
- A semi-famous Scottish school has a motto which, while in Latin, somehow manages to be very, very Scottish: Disce, puer, aut abi. note
- Imperial College London has Scientia imperii decus et tutamen. (Knowledge is the adornment and protection of the Empire.)
- This itself is a reference to—of all things—British currency: certain coins (e.g. today's one pound) have edge lettering reading Decus et Tutamen, "An Ornament and a Safeguard", referring to the fact that they help prevent clipping (and thus unintended inflation). The phrase originally appeared in The Aeneid, describing a magnificent suit of armor taken from Demoleus by Aeneas, it's use on coinage is attributed to Newton, who was Master of the Mint at the time the phrase first appeared.
- As he left the court room following his conviction, Charles Ponzi (for whom the Ponzi Scheme is named) passed a note to the reporters. "Sic transit gloria mundi". Pretentious asshole.
- It is a phrase traditionally recited when a pope dies. And of course frequently lampooned as Sic transit Gloria Swanson.
- Ironically for a country where Latin itself is the official language, Vatican City does not have an official motto. However, St. Peter's Basilica is rife with them - they're all over the friezes. Around the base of the dome (inside): Tu es Petrus et super hanc petram aedificabo ecclesiam meam et tibi dabo claves regnum caelorum (You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church ... and I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven). The piers (massive pillars supporting the dome) carry half a motto each, and viewing from the POV of someone at the altar and facing towards or away from the door, we get two mottos: Hinc sacerdotii unitas exoritur (From here is born the unity of the priesthood) and Hinc una fides mundo refulgent (From here a single faith shines throughout the world).
- The Food and Agriculture Organization, whose mission is to eliminate hunger, has Fiat Panis, "Let there be bread."
- Poena culpam premit comes is the motto of the Australian New South Wales Police Force. Quite appropriate, as it translates to "Punishment follows guilt swiftly," or being more poetic, "Guilt finds swift vengeance."
- Even the Olympic Games have one: Citius, Altius, Fortius, meaning "Faster, Higher, Stronger." It was proposed by Pierre de Coubertin in 1894 on the creation of the International Olympic Committee.
- Rulers of the Holy Roman Empire were expected to have a motto for their reigns. The best-known ones are those of Frederick III of Habsburg - Austriae est imperare orbi universo ("it is Austria's due to rule the entire globe"), usually abbreviated A. E. I. O. U. - and of Ferdinand I - Fiat iustitia, et pereat mundus "let there be justice, though the world perish". Frederick's A. E. I. O. U. can also be as a German abbreviation, though: Alles Erdreich ist Oesterreich untertan "All Earth is subject to Austria".
- The kingdom of Prussia had a number of Latin mottos:
- The Order of the Black Eagle, its highest order: Suum cuique (to each his own, i. e. everybody to get what he deserves), translated by wags as "the squeaking of the sows".
- Like much that is good or neutral and Prussian, this was turned distinctly sinister by the Nazis, who put the motto's German translation—"Jedem das Seine"—over the gate to the Buchenwald concentration camp.
- The Prussian Foot Guards: Semper talis (always the same), which is similar to e. g. the motto used by Queen Elizabeth I of England, Semper eadem.
- Military colours and standards under Frederick William I had a scroll with Non soli cedit ("he does not yield to the sun") above the Prussian eagle. This was in reference to the regimental flags of Louis XIV of France which were decorated with a sun and the motto Nec pluribus impar ("not unequal to many", i. e. up to several enemies at once). Since Frederick the Great, Prussian colours and standards had the motto Pro gloria et patria ("For glory and country/fatherland").
- Since Frederick the Great, Prussian artillery pieces were inscribed Ultima ratio regis - "the last argument (or resort) of the king". This is a variation on the motto inscribed on royal French cannons since Richelieu: Ultima ratio regum - "the last argument/resort of kings".
- Regimental colours and sometimes even the backpacks of soldiers of the duchy of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel had the motto Nunquam retrorsum - "never backwards/in retreat". The ducal arms however had Nec aspera terrent ("darkness does not daunt"). The latter motto also was also used by the younger branch of the family, aka the House of Hanover.
- The kingdom of Saxony had Providentiae memoir (mindful of Providence) and the duchies of Mecklenburg-Schwerin and Mecklenburg-Strelitz Per aspera ad astra (through adversity to the stars)—later the motto of the Royal Air Force—and the small principality of Waldeck-Pyrmont the optimistic Palma sub pondere crescit (the palm grows beneath the weight). Other German states preferred German, however, e. g. Prussia Gott mit uns (God with us), the kingdom of Württemberg Furchtlos und trew (fearless and true), the grand duchy of Hesse-Darmstadt Gott Ehre Vaterland (God Honour Fatherland) and the principalities of Reuss Ich bau auf Gott (I build upon God).
- The Free and Hanseatic City has inscribed above the main entrance of its City Hall: Libertatem quam pepere maiores digne studeat servare posteritas - "May posterity worthily strive to preserve the liberty the forefathers won".
- The kingdom of Spain's arms are decorated with the pillars of Hercules and the motto Plus ultra "further beyond". This was Charles I of Spain's (Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor) personal motto, though it's actually a translation from Plus Oultre, which is in Old French, his native language.
- Bismarck's arms carry the motto: note .
- Johann Sebastian Bach liked to write Solo Dei gloria note on his manuscripts.
- This is one of the Five solae that form the backbone of Lutheran doctrine; Bach was a devout Lutheran.
- The arms of the City of Paris show a ship and the motto Fluctuat nec mergitur - "tough it shakes, it does not sink".
- The motto of the City of London is Domine dirge nos note .
- The motto of the city of Detroit is Speramus meliora; resurget cineribus - "we hope for better things, it shall rise from the ashes", adopted after a big fire destroyed the settlement in 1805. Considering how bad Detroit became, we sure hope so.
- The Churchill family (including the Duke of Marlborough) oddly enough has this Spanish motto, Fiel pero desdichado "Pious but unhappy".
- Can't we argue that Spanish is just some really butchered Latin?
- Sir Francis Drake's arms featured two Latin mottos - the crest shows a ship guided by a hand labelled Auxilio Divino note and beneath the shield it says: Sic ex parvis magna note , a reference to his humble origins.
- British military units:
- The Royal Navy has "Se vis pacem, para bellum"; "If you wish for peace, then prepare for war", a fitting motto for an organization that enforced a century of Pax Britannica.
- The Coldstream Guards, second regiment in seniority of the Foot Guards, is fond of Nulli secundus (second to none).note The Scots Guards have a different Latin motto for each of their companies.
- The Buffs (East Kent Regiment) have Veteri frondescit honore (its ancient honour flourishes).
- British regiments are proud of their battle honours, but the Royal Artillery and Royal Engineers (the Gunners and Sappers) have no honours. The Gunners and Sappers need no honours. They each simply have a scroll with the word Ubique ("Everywhere").
- The Royal Marines have Per mare, per terram (By Sea, By Land).
- When Sir Terry Pratchett was knighted, he got to pick a motto and a coat of arms.◊ He chose, like the Sto Helits of Discworld, "Noli Timere Messorem": "Don't Fear The Reaper."
- Particularly apt given his condition.
- Many Clans in Scotland have mottoes in Latin. A good example of this is Clan Gordon: Animo non Astutia. Depending on the translation, it is rendered as "By Courage Not By Craft," "By Strength Not By Guile", or "By Mind not by Cunning". No matter wihch one, it still gives the same impression of the clan.
- Bavaria has an unofficial (but really pretentious) motto which stems from a medieval monk, is engraved over many monastery entrances, and was popularly used by the former Minister President Franz Josef Strauß in speeches: "Extra Bavariam nulla vita, et si vita, non est ita"note .
- The motto of Finnish Air Force is Qualitas Potentia Nostra (Quality is Our Might). Quite an apt motto, since Finn AF is universally known as a Pint Sized Power House.
- The Buffalo Fire Department's motto: Ut Vivant Alii (So Others May Live).
- France didn't have a motto before the Revolution, but a war cry. Monarchs could chose to have their individual motto (the most famous being Nec pluribus impar of Louis XIV fame. It means Not inferior to many, that is "Superior to everybody") but the war cry was what was written on standards, and it was kept inside a dynasty. That of the Capetians was Montjoie ! Saint Denis ! (a significant place around Paris and the significant local saint), but any dynasty tied in wars had one which was a mix of religion and familial glory or land (for example Joan of Arc took Jhesus, Maria ("Jesus, Mary"), Guesclin had Notre-Dame du Guesclin ("Our Lady of Guesclin") etc. Such war cries were often subject to a certain protocol on battlefields, with the heralds of the different high lords yelling them and the men repeating it in choir before a battle. Cities are more likely to have mottoes in Latin, but institutions or families not so much. Non-Romance nations are actually more heavy on Latin mottoes and sayings (whereas they just exist naturally in Romance languages, as they evolved with the rest).
- The professional gaming team colloquially known as Na'Vi could be seen as this. While it sounds like the irritating fairy from Legend of Zelda, it in fact derives from the Latin Natus Vincere, meaning "born to win".
- Parodied with the bumper sticker "Sic hoc adfixum potes legerer liberaler educates et propinqum ades nunc." This translates to "If you can read this bumper sticker, you are well educated and too close."
- Writer Tim Maki's family motto, "Ignobilitatem in faciem adversis", while bad Latin, should translate as "Ignobility in the face of adversity".
- Imagine Software's motto, "the name of the game," was usually written in English, but it was also translated into Latin on the inlay cover of Zzoom as "Nomen Ludi." (This is why Jet Set Willy has a room titled "Nomen Luni.")