Cornell Blog: An unofficial blog about Cornell University

Ivy League Latin Mottos

Posted in Language by Cornell Blog Admin on July 28th, 2007.

A coworker sent me a photo today of a printed sign for a restaurant in Halifax that had, as its subtitle, the infamous lorem ipsum dolorem placeholder text. If you don’t know what it is, check out the generator, which will produce on demand a paragraph like so:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Vestibulum bibendum. Nulla rutrum commodo ante. Phasellus sed eros a quam adipiscing interdum. Nullam malesuada suscipit diam. Mauris condimentum, augue vitae ullamcorper tincidunt, mauris tellus volutpat quam, eget ullamcorper ligula pede vel nunc. Donec molestie placerat lectus. Nunc lacinia malesuada elit. Ut quis risus. Phasellus elementum ullamcorper erat. Morbi cursus, velit in malesuada mollis, leo justo porttitor lorem, eu tempor nisl orci eu leo. Cras congue lacus a lectus.

This got me wondering what the Ivy League latin mottos were, so here they are:

Harvard University


Harvard’s motto is the latin “Veritas” or in English, “Truth.” Simple, but elegant, it’s represented in their university logo.

University of Pennsylvania


Upenn’s latin motto has had an interesting history. It was first “Sine Moribus Vanae” but a troublesome student translated it as “Loose women without morals,” so it was changed to its current “Leges sine moribus vanae” which means in English, “Laws–without moral character–are in vain.”

Princeton University


I don’t like their latin, “Dei sub numine viget” which indicates that “Under the power of God, She flourishes.” I’d hoped for something grander.

Yale University


“Lux et veritas” which means “Light and truth” is my favorite latin motto in the Ivy League. It’s glorious and beautiful, without invoking religious ideals. It should be the motto of intellectuals and educators everywhere.

Brown University


With “In deo speramus” or “In God we Hope” Brown continues the religious downward spiral.

Dartmouth College


Dartmouth’s latin motto is “Vox clamantis in deserto” a biblical reference to the prophet of god as “A voice crying out in the wilderness.”

Columbia University


Sounding a bit like a cult, “In lumine tuo videbimus lumen” is often translated “In Thy light shall we see the light.”

Cornell University


Last but not least, our motto used to be the lame, non-latin “I would found an institution where any person can find instruction in any study” but recently it’s been abbreviated to “Any person … Any study.” In latin, that would be “Quisquam qui ars.”

This entry was posted on Saturday, July 28th, 2007 at 6:05 am and is tagged with . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback.

8 Responses to “Ivy League Latin Mottos”

  1. Nate says:

    Me Hercule!

  2. dopeyman says:

    “I would found an institution where any person meeting certain admissions requirements can find instruction in any study offered by said institution”

  3. Phoebe Sengers says:

    Today’s Ithaca Journal said that our motto won “Motto Magazine’s first annual 10 Best College Motto” contest. This caused a great deal of consternation around our home. My favorite part is where this is an annual contest, because you know those mottos change so dang frequently.

  4. Limites says:

    This helped so much I needed to study latin mottos for a competition :]

  5. I have to say, it’s pretty ballsy (and, perhaps, a tad snooty) for Harvard to go with simply, “veritas.” At UCLA, ours was, Fiat Lux – “Let there be light,” which I always liked. My favorite latin motto, however, is that of our League of Gentlemen Adventurers – “Quam bene vivas refert, non quam diu.”

  6. Jerred Marquez says:

    The book “The Veritas Conflict” by Shaunti Feldhahn explains that Harvard’s original motto was “Veritas Cristo et Ecclesiae” which means “Truth for Christ and the Church.” In addition, the book on the bottom was originally turned upside down. By a later amendment, the book was turned right side up and the motto was changed. Feldhahn explains that it was as though Harvard decided that all truth could be gained, turning all the books up.

  7. Michael Kelting says:

    I love the University of Kansas, but does any university have a more peculiar motto? (I am trying to do this from memory–the spelling may not be perfect.):
    Videbo visionem hanc magnam quare non comburatur rubus. (I shall see this great vision, how the bush does not burn.)
    Just as Moses went up Mount Sinai seeking the Lord’s ultimate wisdom, so do KU students go up Mount Oread to seek the wisdom of KU’s profs.

  8. Michael Kelting says:

    By the way, Kansas “borrowed” Cornell’s alma mater. . .plus Harvard Crimson and Yale Blue. At least we steal from the best!

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