Tattoo Phrases

All You Need to Know About Tattoo Phrases

Tattoos are used to display and communicate something about the person who wears them. Though there are many symbols and designs that people use, writing of words and phrases is also very common to communicate the message clearly to everyone. Most of the time, people like to get the names of their spouses or lovers tattooed on their body. Tattoos are also done in the names of departed souls, especially mothers and pets. They give you a feeling of emotional support that the person or pet is still with you. Word or phrase tattoos can be combined with designed or created individually.

Some Common Word Choices

Love and hate are two very strong emotions that can motivate people to get a tattoo. 'Love' is a very common word that occurs in tattoo phrases whether with a name or as a part of a phrase. Of course, the Chinese is a whole new script with thousands of letters, each mean something that can be described in a word or phrase when converted to English. There are also other words like life, win, regrets, die, death, fear, risk, stay, breathe, angel, princess, rock etc that are very popular apart from names.

Sayings and Quotations

Most people like to carry their attitude on their skin. Popular quotes like 'Live and let live', 'Never say die', 'Love is life', 'Keep it simple', 'life goes on' etc can be tattooed on any part of the body. Some people get their favorite quote inked on their body to keep themselves motivated. Wrists are the most common locations for such tattoos because you can see them even while you are working and motivation literally comes handy. There are many tattoo phrases, both big and small that are used. If it is a big quotation, the size of each alphabet is small. Similarly, you get a choice in size if the quote itself is small. Those who also want others to see the quotation often get it done on their shoulder blade because that location offers a relatively bigger surface area. This phrase does not have to be motivational quotes but can also be lyrics of a song or a poem.

Famous lines from movies are also taken but this should be avoided because the tattoo stays for a lifetime. It is important to be sure before you get a permanent tattoo on your body. While using characters, make sure you hire an experienced tattoo artist and select the correct font and size for your tattoo. Whether you want it to be easy or difficult to read is of course your decision. There are many other aspects you must consider before getting tattoo phrases inked to your skin. Remember that you will get older. Will the phrase look appropriate when you are older? Will you body part remain the same or will change with time? Choose a tattoo style and the words accordingly. Black is considered to be the best color for long lasting and neat tattoos. With a little thought beforehand, your tattoo can be your friend for life.

List of Famous Tattoo Phrases

A Mari Usque Ad Mare

From sea to sea (Motto of Canada)

A Posteriori

Reasoning from effects to causes

A Priori

Reasoning from causes to effects

Ad Astra

To the stars

Ad Eundem

Of admission to the same degree at a different university

Ad Hoc

For this purpose

Ad hominem

To the individual. Relating to the principles or preferences of a particular person, rather than to abstract truth. Often used to describe a personal attack on a person.

Ad Libitum

At one's pleasure, usually abbreviated ad lib

Ad Litem

For a lawsuit or action

Ad Nauseum

To a sickening extent

Ad Referendum

Subject to reference

Ad Rem

To the point

Ad Vitam

For life

Ad Vitam Aeternam

For all time

Ad Vitam Paramus

We are preparing for life (My high school's motto!)

Agnus Dei

Lamb of God

Anno Domine

In the year of our Lord. Usually abbreviated A.D.

Annuit Coeptis

He (God) has favoured our undertakings (part of the great seal of the United States, usually seen on the back of a U.S one dollar bill)

Annus Bisextus

Leap year

Ante Bellum

Before the war. Usually used to describe the United States before the U.S. Civil War (1861-65). Typically spelled antebellum in English.

Ante Meridiem

Before noon. Usually abbreviated A.M.

Armis Exposcere Pacem

They demanded peace by force of arms. An inscription seen on medals.

Ars Gratia Artis

Art for art's sake. The motto of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Audere Est Facere

To dare is to do. Motto of the British football team, Tottenham Hotspur ('Spurs)

Bona Fide

In good faith, sincerely

Carpe Diem

Enjoy the day; pluck the day when it is ripe. Seize the day.

Caveat Emptor

Let the buyer beware

Ceteris Paribus

All things being equal

Cogito Ergo Sum

I think, therefore I am (Rene Descartes)

Corpus Delicti

Literally the body of the crime. The substance or fundamental facts of crime.

De Mortius Nil Nisi Bonum

Of the dead say nothing but good.

Dei Gratia

By the grace of God. This appears on all British, Canadian, and other British Commonwealth coins and is usually abbreviated D.G. (see Fidei Defensor and Indiae Imperator)

Deus Ex Machina

Literally God from a machine. Describes a miraculous or fortuitous turn of events in a work of fiction.

Deus Vobiscum

God be with you.

Dies Irae

Day of wrath; Day of judgement

Dies natalis


Discere Docendo

To learn through teaching

Draco Dormiens Nunquam Titillandus

Never Tickle a Sleeping Dragon. This is the motto of Harry Potter’s alma mater, Hogwart’s school of witchcraft and wizardry

Dum spiramus tuebimur

While we breathe, we shall defend. Motto of the U.S 133rd Field Artillery Regiment.

E Pluribus Unum

From many, one (Motto of United States of America)

Errare Humanum Est

To err is human

Et Alia

And others

Et Cetera

And the rest. Often abbreviated etc. or &c.

Ex Cathedra

From the chair, i.e. Speaking from a Bishop's seat or professional chair, speaking with authority. A Cathedra is the seat reserved for a Bishop in a cathedral.

Ex Gratia

Done or given as a favour and not under any compulsion

Ex Libris

From the Library (of).

Ex Officio

According to Office

Ex Post Facto

After the fact

Ex Tempore

Off the cuff, without preparation

Exampli Gratia

For the sake of example, for instance. Usually abbreviated e.g.

Exeunt Omnes

All go out. A common stage direction in plays

F to O

Return to Top

Facta Non Verba

Deeds not words

Fide Suorum Regnat

"He reigns by the faith of his people" Inscription on the 1939 Canadian silver dollar, minted to commemorate the 1939 Royal tour.

Fidei Defensor

Defender of the Faith. This is usually abreviated F.D. or Fid. Def. and appears on the obverse of British coins. (see Dei Gratia)

Flagrante Delicto

Literally while the crime is blazing. Caught red-handed, in the very act of a crime.

Floreat Regina

Regina, may it flourish. The motto of the City of Regina, Saskatchewan Canada.

Gloria In Exelsis Deo

Literally, Glory to God in the highest. Highest in this phrase means heaven, i.e. Glory to God in Heaven

Habeas Corpus

Literally that you have a body. A writ requiring that a detained individual be brought before a court to decide the legality of that individual's detention.

Habemus Papam

We have a father. The cheer raised by the waiting crowds when a pope is elected.

Homo nudus cum nuda iacebat

Naked they lay together, man and woman. Quoted in The Name of the Rose, First day, Sext.


In the same place (in a book). Abbreviation for ibidem.


See ibid.

Id Est

That is to say. Usually abbreviated i.e.


Jesus. There is no 'J' in classic Latin.

Iesus Hominum Salvator

Usually abbreviated IHS this means Jesus is the saviour of all people.

Iesus Nazerenus Rex Iudaeorum

Usually abbreviated INRI. The title card placed on Christ's cross by Pontius Pilate (John 19:19), it means Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.

In Absentia

In their absence

In Actu

In practice

In Camera

In secret or private session; not in public

In Capite

In chief

In Extenso

At full length

In Extremis

In the last agonies

In Forma Pauperis

In the form of a poor person; in a humble or abject manner

In Infinitum

To infinity; without end

In Limine

On the threshold, at the very outset

In Loco

In the place of

In Loco Parentis

In the place of a parent

In Medias Res

Into the midst of affairs

In Memoriam

To the memory of

In Nubibus

In the clouds; not yet settled

In Partibus Infidelium

In parts inhabited by unbelievers

In Perpetuum

To all time

In Pontificalibus

In the proper vestments of a pope or cardinal

In Propria Persona

In his or her own person

In Situ

In its original place; in position

In Statu Quo

In the same state

In Terrorem

As a warning; in order to terrify others

In Toto

As a whole, absolutely, Completely

In Transitu

In passing, on the way

In Utero

In the uterus

In Vacuo

In a vacuum or empty space

In Vino Veritas

Truth comes out under the influence of alcohol.

In Vitro

In a test tube (literally glass)

In Vivo

Within the living organism

Indiae Imperator

Emperor of India. Usually abbreviated Ind. Imp. Appeared on the obverse of British and British Empire coins before 1948.

Integer Vitae Scelerisque Purus

Blameless of life and free from crime

Inter Alia

Amongst other things

Inter Alios

Amongst other persons

Inter Caesa et Porrecta

There's many a slip twixt cup and lip

Inter Nos

Between ourselves

Inter Partes

Made between two parties

Inter Se

Between or among themselves

Inter Vivos

Between living persons

Ipse Dixit

Unproven assertion resting on the speaker's authority (literally He himself said)

Lapsus Linguae

A slip of the tongue

Lingua Franca

A common language

Lupus in Fabula

Speak of the devil

Lux Mea Christus

Christ is my light

Manus in Mano

Hand in hand

Manus Manum Lavat

Literally Hand washes Hand. Taken to mean One hand washes the other or scratch my back and I'll scratch yours.

Margaritas ante Porcos

Pearls before swine

Mea Culpa

Through my own fault

Mea Maxima Culpa

Through my very great fault

Melitae Amor

Love of Malta

Membrum Virile

The virile member; penis.

Memento Mori

A reminder of death, such as a skull (literally remember that you have to die)

Memento Vivere

A reminder of life (literally remember that you have to live)

Missa Solemnis

Literally, Solemn Mass. The High Mass.

Mitto tibi navem prora puppique carentem

I send you a ship without a bow or a stern. This is a rebus puzzle by Cicero. A ship, navem, without it’s first and last letter spells ave, which means greetings in Latin.

Mollia Tempora Fandi

Times favourable for speaking

Mutatis Mutandis

With the necessary changes

Nihil Sub Sole Novum

Nothing new under the sun

Nolite te Bastardes Carborundorum

Don't let the bastards grind you down. Not true Latin, as the word Carborundorum is not true Latin, like copacetic.

Non Compos Mentis

Not of sound mind.

Non Sequitur

An inference or conclusion which doesn't follow from its premises (literally It Does Not Follow)

Non Timetis Messor

Don't Fear the Reaper

Nosce te ipsum

Know thyself

Novus Ordo Seclorum

A new order for the ages (appears on the U.S. one-dollar bill)

Nunc Dimittis

Literally Now you send forth. Abbreviation of Luke 2:29.

Omnia Mihi Lingua Graeca Sunt

It's all Greek to me.

Optimus Parentibus

To my excellent parents. A common dedication in a book.

P to Z

Return to Top

Pater Noster

Our Father. The first words of the Lord's Prayer in Latin.

Per Accidens

By Accident

Per Annum

By the Year

Per Ardua Ad Astra

Through Difficulty To The Stars. Motto of the RCAF, RAF and RAAF.

Per Capita

By heads

Per Consequens

By Consequence

Per Contra

On the other side

Per Diem

By the day

Per Fas et Nefas

By right and wrong

Per Incurium

Through carelessness

Per Mensem

Every Month

Per Pares

By his peers

Per Procurationem

By Proxy or Deputy

Per Saltum

By a leap or all at once

Per Se

By or in itself

Per Stirpes

By stocks or families

Persona non Grata

Unacceptable Person

Post Coitem

After sexual intercourse

Post Mortem

After death

Post Partum

After childbirth

Post Scriptum

Written later. A postscript, usually abbreviated P.S.

Post Tenebras, Lux

After darkness, light

Praemonitus, Praemunitus

Forewarned is Forearmed

Prima Facie

At first sight; on the face of it.

Primus Inter Pares

First Among Equals

Pro Bono Publico

For the public good

Pro Forma

For form's sake

Pro Hac Vice

For this occasion only

Pro Rata


Pro Re Nata

For an occasion as it arises

Pro Tanto

So far

Pro Tempore


Quid Pro Quo

One thing for another; something for something

Quis Custodiet ipsos custodes

Who shall guard the guards?

Quo Vadis, Domine

Where are you going, Lord?

Quod Vide

Which See, usually abbreviated q.v.

Quod Erat Demonstrandum

Which was to be demonstrated. Usually abbreviated Q.E.D.

Quod Erat Faciendum

Which was to be done.

Quod Erat in Veniendum

Which was to be found.

Requiscat in Pace

May he rest in peace. Usually abbreviated R.I.P.

Romani Ite Domum

Romans go home!

Semper Fidelis

Always Faithful. Motto of the United States Marine Corps and H.M.S. Exeter

Senatus Populusque Romanus

For the senate and people of Rome. Often abbreviated SPQR. Seen as a tattoo on Russell Crowe's left arm in the movie, Gladiator.

Sic Semper Tyrannis

Thus ever to tyrants. The motto of the State of Virginia. John Wilkes Booth is supposed to have shouted this phrase as he jumped to stage of Ford's Theater after shooting Abraham Lincoln.

Sic Transit Gloria Mundi

Thus passes away the glory of the world.

Sine Die

Without a day being specified

Sine Qua Non


Sperate Miseri Caveat Felices

When miserable, hope; When happy beware

Sub Poena

Under penalty of …. The source of the English word subpoena which is a writ issued by a court requiring one's attendance at that court.

Sub Rosa

Secretly or in confidence. Literally means under the rose.

Tempus Fugit

Time flies

Ultima Ratio

Final sanction

Ultra Vires

Beyond the powers or legal authority

Ut humiliter opinor

In my humble opinion

Veni, Vidi, Vici

I came, I saw, I conquered

Ventis Secundis

Literally with winds aft. With a favourable wind. The motto of H.M.S. Hood. These words were supposedly spoken by Admiral Sir Samuel Hood during the battle of Martinique.

Via Dolorosa

The way of sorrow. The route in Jerusalem followed by Jesus Christ to his crucifixion.

Vice Versa

The positions being reversed


That is to say; To wit; Namely

Vita mutatur, non tollitur

Life is changed, not taken away

Vivat Regina

Long live the queen

Vivat Rex

Long live the king


Abbreviation of Videlicet