List of Latin phrases (B)

This page lists English translations of notable Latin phrases, such as veni vidi vici and et cetera. Some of the phrases are themselves translations of Greek phrases, as Greek rhetoric and literature reached its peak centuries before the rise of ancient Rome.

This list covers the letter B. See List of Latin phrases for the main list.


barba crescit caput nescitbeard grows, head doesn't grow wiser
barba non facit philosophuma beard doesn't make one a philosopher
barba tenus sapienteswise as far as the beardOr wise only in appearance. From Erasmus's collection of Adages.
Beata Virgo Maria (BVM)Blessed Virgin MaryA common name in the Roman Catholic Church for Mary, the mother of Jesus. The genitive, Beatae Mariae Virginis (BMV), occurs often as well, appearing with such words as horae (hours), litaniae (litanies) and officium (office).
beatae memoriaeof blessed memorySee in memoriam.
beati pauperes spirituBlessed in spirit [are] the poor.A Beatitude from Matthew 5:3 in the Vulgate: beati pauperes spiritu, quoniam ipsorum est regnum caelorum "Blessed in spirit [are] the poor, for theirs is the kingdom of the heavens".
beati possidentesblessed [are] those who possessTranslated from Euripides.
beati qui ambulant lege dominiBlessed are they who walk in the law of the LordInscription above the entrance to St. Andrew's Church (New York City), based on Psalm 119:1.
beatus homo qui invenit sapientiamblessed is the man who finds wisdomfrom Proverbs 3:13; set to music in a 1577 motet of the same name by Orlando di Lasso.
bella gerant alii
Protesilaus amet!
Let others wage war
Protesilaus should love!
Originally from Ovid, Heroides 13.84,[1] where Laodamia is writing to her husband Protesilaus who is at the Trojan War. She begs him to stay out of danger, but he was in fact the first Greek to die at Troy. Also used of the Habsburg marriages of 1477 and 1496, written as bella gerant alii, tu felix Austria nube (let others wage war; you, happy Austria, marry). Said by King Matthias.
bella detesta matribus war hateful to mothers from Horace.
bello et jure senesco I grow old through war and law Motto of the House of d'Udekem d'Acoz
bellum omnium contra omneswar of all against allA phrase used by Thomas Hobbes to describe the state of nature.
bellum se ipsum aletwar feeds itself
Biblia pauperumPaupers' BibleTradition of biblical pictures displaying the essential facts of Christian salvation.
bibo ergo sumI drink, therefore I am A play on "cogito ergo sum", "I think therefore I am".
bis dat qui cito dathe gives twice, who gives promptlyA gift given without hesitation is as good as two gifts.
bis in die (bid)twice in a dayMedical shorthand for "twice a day".
bona fidein good faithIn other words, "well-intentioned", "fairly". In modern contexts, often has connotations of "genuinely" or "sincerely". Bona fides is not the plural (which would be bonis fidebus), but the nominative, and means simply "good faith". Opposite of mala fide.
bona notabilianote-worthy goodsIn law, if a person dying has goods, or good debts, in another diocese or jurisdiction within that province, besides his goods in the diocese where he dies, amounting to a certain minimum value, he is said to have bona notabilia; in which case, the probat of his will belongs to the archbishop of that province.
bona officiagood servicesA nation's offer to mediate in disputes between two other nations.
bona patriagoods of a countryA jury or assize of countrymen, or good neighbors.
bona vacantiavacant goodsUnited Kingdom legal term for ownerless property that passes to The Crown.
boni pastoris est tondere pecus non deglubereit is a good shepherd's [job] to shear his flock, not to flay themTiberius reportedly said this to his regional commanders, as a warning against taxing the populace excessively.
bono malum superateOvercome evil with goodMotto of Westonbirt School.
bonum commune communitatiscommon good of the communityOr "general welfare". Refers to what benefits a society, as opposed to bonum commune hominis, which refers to what is good for an individual. In the film Hot Fuzz, this phrase is chanted by an assembled group of people, in which context it is deliberately similar to another phrase that is repeated throughout the film, which is The Greater Good.
bonum commune hominiscommon good of a manRefers to an individual's happiness, which is not "common" in that it serves everyone, but in that individuals tend to be able to find happiness in similar things.
boreas domus, mare amicusthe North is our home, the sea is our friendMotto of Orkney.
brutum fulmenharmless (or inert) thunderboltUsed to indicate either an empty threat, or a judgement at law which has no practical effect.
busillisPseudo-Latin meaning "baffling puzzle" or "difficult point". John of Cornwall (ca. 1170) was once asked by a scribe what the word meant. It turns out that the original text said in diebus illis magnis plenae (in those days there were plenty of great things), which the scribe misread as indie busillis magnis plenae (in India there were plenty of large busillis).



  • Adeleye, Gabriel G. (1999). Thomas J. Sienkewicz; James T. McDonough, Jr., eds. World Dictionary of Foreign Expressions. Wauconda, IL: Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers, Inc. ISBN 0865164223. 
  • Hardon, John, Fr., Modern Catholic Dictionary 
  • Stone, Jon R. (1996). Latin for the Illiterati. London & New York: Routledge. ISBN 0415917751. 
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