Latin phrases for iPod, iPad, et cetera

Raphael's "School of Athens" 1511
Raphael’s “School of Athens,” 1511

This started pre-iPhone. I was training for the Philadelphia Marathon and my first iPod wasn’t keeping up (I do still have it though). Apple had just come out with a new version of the iPod Nano, and as I was building my order, I noticed something interesting- an offer for free engraving of my purchase.

This is a service Apple still offers for iPads and iPods, here. With Glowforge, you can do it yourself. There are rumors that Apple will begin offering Watch engraving as a free service in the future, and there are third party companies that will happily engrave your iPhone, Mac, and more:

On Apple’s site, the free engraving perk is presented as a way to personalize a gift you’ll be giving to someone else. “I can never repay you, but here’s a start” says one iPad in their example roundup.

But, what if you’re buying something for yourself? I like the idea of personalizing something that you’ve worked hard for and will use every day. I used to name all my major tech purchases after major exhibitions, as a way to commemorate and pay homage to a lot of hard work. For example, I have a laptop named Van Gogh.

So, what to engrave? Latin has a lot of similarities to code. It’s alternately blunt and subtle. The personalities of author, translator, coder, and student invariably come through, as there are often multiple ways to say something, and even more ways to interpret it. Like Fortran, it’s an old language, but also one that’s all around us: alias, alibi, bona fide, veto, et cetera. Latin is often succinct, sometimes tongue-in-cheek (I especially liked the self-referential lines, like “Multum in parvo,” “Much in a small space), and individualizes your device. I also liked finding phrases that might refer to what one is reading, and/or musical tastes, and phrases that were encouraging and acknowledged hard work.

So, here’s the list I made:

Latin Translation Attribution/notes
Aude sapere Dare to be wise
Cave ab homine unius libri Beware the man of one book
Citius Altius Fortius Faster, higher, stronger Modern Olympics motto
De gustibus non est disputandum There’s no accounting for taste
Decies repetita placebit Though ten times repeated, it will continue to please Horace
Deus ex machina God out of a machine
Dimidium facti qui coepit habet He who makes a start has half the work done Horace, Epistles, Book I, Ep. 2
Docendo discimus We learn by teaching Seneca, Letters to Lucilius, Book I, letter 7, section 8
Dulce et utile A sweet and useful (thing) Horace, Ars Poetica
Dulcius ex asperis Sweeter after difficulties Scottish clan Fergusson’s motto
Dum spiro spero While I breathe, I hope Attributed to Theocritus and Cicero
Fac et spera Do and hope Scottish clan Matheson’s motto
Fac fortia et patere Do brave deeds and endure Motto of Prince Alfred College in Adelaide, Australia
Factis ut credam facis Deeds, then I may believe you- trust actions, not words
Fortiter in re, suaviter in modo Gently in manner, firm in action Acquaviva, Industriae ad curandos animae morbos
Fortitudine vincimus By endurance we conquer Shackelton’s motto
Humani nihil alienum Nothing human is foreign to me Terentius Afer, Heauton Timorumenos
Si hortum in bibliotheca habes, nihil deerit If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need Cicero
Imperare sibi maximum imperium est To rule yourself is the ultimate power Seneca
In nocte consilium The night brings counsel
In spe In hope
Labor omnia vincit Hard work conqures all Virgil, Georgics
Lex malla, lex nulla A bad law is no law St. Thomas Aquinas
Loquitur (loq.) He/she speaks
Male parta male dilabuntur What has been wrongly gained is wrongly lost. (Ill-gotten gains seldom prosper.) Cicero, Philippics, 2.66
Multum in parvo Much in a small space
Musica delenit bestiam feram Music soothes the savage beast
Otium sine litteris mors est Leisure without literature is death Seneca, Letters to Lucilius
Per angusta ad augusta Through difficulties to honors
Post proelia praemia After the battles, the prizes
Res ipsa loquitur The thing itself speaks- tort law Cicero, Pro Tito Annio Milone ad iudicem oratio
Res mihi suppetit I have abundance to say
Ubi spiritus est cantus est Where there is spirit there is song
Ubicumque homo est, ibi beneficio locus est Wherever there is man, there is a place for kindness Seneca
Veritatem Dilexi I delight in the truth Bryn Mawr College motto

The above is my list, culled from multiple books and sites over the years. If you’ve read through this and are still looking for your best Latin phrase, I recommend: List of Latin phrases (Full), Wikipedia

And for even MORE bon mots take a look at: WikiQuote’s Latin Proverbs and The Quotations Page

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