Latin For You

Teaching and translating ancient Latin since 1986

Cutes Inscriptae Latinae Illustrum - Latin Tattoos of the Famous
Your one stop to check out the Latin ink of some of your favourite celebrities

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Adam Lambert - Singer/songwriter, who started on American Idol and is now working as front man for Queen, filling the glam shoes of Freddie Mercury.
Latin Tattoo - musica delenit bestiam feram - Music soothes the savage beast
This is a modern take on the original "Musick has charms to soothe a savage breast".  The fact that we shy away from saying the word 'breast' could likely be the subject of an entire psychology/sociology symposium.
BTW, bonus points if you knew the original line; major bonus points if you knew this was written by William Congreve; act I, scene I, line 1 The Mourning Bride, 1697.
2 of 27
Andrew Flintoff - English cricketer and member of the National Squad
Latin Tattoo - XI - 11
This is ultra simple and Roman Numerals might be the most common examples of Latin in tattoos - often used for significant dates.  Here the 11 stands for the number of players on the field for each team.  Cricket fans will know that a cricket team is regularly referred to as an 'eleven'.
3 of 27
Angelina Jolie - Actress and philanthropist
Latin Tattoo - quod me nutruit, me destruit - What nourishes me, destroys me
One of the more famous tattoos out there; this one is part of a cover tattoo (the cross to the right is covering a previous, now unwanted piece of art).
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Cassie Ventura - Singer, actress
Latin Tattoo - post tenebras lux - After the shadows, light
This inspirational 'get through it' thought decorates the ribs of Ms Ventura.  What is the source?  The book of Job (Latin translation) is the origin of this line, which eventually became the unofficial motto of the Protestant movement.


5 of 27
Colin Farrell - Actor
Latin Tattoo - carpe diem- Seize the day
The most popular Latin axiom to be found in tattoos and on human canvases throughout the world (and on this page) - here it is combined with a cross.  The line, made famous relatively recently by Robin Williams' character in Dead Poets' Society, originated with the Roman poet Horace.  The emperor Augustus' favourite bard often wrote about enjoying life (mildly, not wildly).  The full line Horace wrote was "carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero" (seize the day, rely on the future not at all).

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David Backham - English Footballer
Latin Tattoo - ut amem et foveam - To love and cherish (literally, that I may love and cherish)
A bit of thought went into this phrase when it was created (it is not a quote from an ancient).  You could say 'amare to fovere', which also means 'to love and cherish', but in a different way.  Becks has chosen the sentiment: 'that I may love and cherish'.
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7 of 27
Elsa Pataky - Actress (best known for the Fast and Furious movie franchise)
Latin Tattoo - quid quid sumus, id esse voluimus - Whatever we are, it is what we wanted
Elsa Pataky, the Spanish lass, has this Latin line on her well-turned ankle.  I will leave aside that quidquid is typically a single word and simply note that this is modern expression.  I am all over that.  Latin should not be a museum piece, sitting under a glass in a state of suspended animation.  We should take it out for a spin and see where it will take us.
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Halsey - Singer (most notably providing the track Not Afraid Anymore for 50 Shades Darker)
Latin Tattoo - FEROX - Brave
Halsey decided against a professional tattoo emporium, opting to have this one done at home.  So, we have a tattoo that lived its own creation!
9 of 27
Ian Somerhalder - Actor - Vampire Diaries and Lost (remember Boone?)
Latin Tattoo - hic et nunc - Here and now
Living for the moment with a very 'Carpe Diem' kind of thought.  According to Wikipedia, it is "the imperative motto for the satisfaction of desire" (I want what I want when I want it).  I would have said that it is a reference to the present as in 'the here and now'.
10 of 27
Jenel Parrish - Actress (Mona Vanderwaal in Pretty Little Liars)
Latin Tattoo - amor vincit omnia - love conquers all
This line has a bit of a history (hey, it's Latin, what did you expect!).  It started off in Virgil's Eclogue X as Omnia vincit amor.  Over 1,600 year later Caravaggio created a work whose title had the same word as seen on Ms Parrish.  As mentioned elsewhere on this site, the word order doesn't really affect the meaning.
11 of 27
Jordan Hinson - Actress from the sci-fi series Eureka inter alia.
Latin Tattoo - aut viam inveniam aut faciam - Either I will find a way or I will make it
This statement is attributed to the Carthaginian general and arch-nemesis to Rome, Hannibal.  The image that particularly comes to mind is the march across the Alps as he led his army into Italy for one of history's most successful invasions.  It makes this the oldest line, Hannibal living in the 3rd century BC (although we might well ask why a Carthaginian would be expressing himself in Latin - the language of his enemies).
12 of 27
Dame Judi Dench CH, DBE, FRSA - Actress par excellence with 7 Oscar nominations and that's just the tip of a large iceberg
Latin Tattoo - carpe diem - seize the day
As I said, this may be the most popular and common Latin phrase.  I've come across dozens of exempla online.  This clearly speaks to many of us, of all ages and social classes.
BTW, this shot of ink came as a 81st birthday present to Dame Judi from her daughter, Finty Williams.  So, if you're thinking of getting a tattoo and you think you've waited too long - you've still got time.

13 of 27
Karis Anderson - Singer in the British group Stooshe
Latin Tattoo - carpe diem - seize the day
Third time's the charm - as if to prove my comment on the popularity of this tag, here it is again.
The line is the same, but note how it is used differently - font, size, location & other adornment
14 of 27
Kat Graham- Actress, singer, song-writer
Latin Tattoo - nosce te ipsum - know yourself
The Swiss miss (okay, technically American/Liberian/Russian/Polish miss), who appeared in Vampire Diaries, Hannah Montana, Parent Trap, etc., has chosen a tag which started life in Greek - Gnothi Seauton.  This piece of advice was chiselled on the pronaos (entry) of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi.  Although generally sensible advice (hence its popularity), it was especially relevant at Delphi, where abstruse answers to burning questions were the rule.
15 of 27
Katie Cassidy - 3rd generation actress, daughter of David Cassidy, grand-daughter of Jack Cassidy
Latin Tattoo - alis volat propris - she flies on her own wings
Another very well received axiom, this one almost exclusively found on women, often between the shoulder blades and with wings included.  Out of respect, I will try not to mention that propris is missing an 'i' - sorry, just can't help myself.
16 of 27
Keith Urban - Country singer and partner of Nicole Kidman
Latin Tattoo - amor vincit omnia - love conquers all
Now you see it, now you don't.  Keith's original tat, the delicately written Amor vincit omnia, was half of a matching set.  Its twin graced the delectable arm of model Niki Taylor (see below) when these two were also a matching set.  When they had a parting of the ways, they both decided to part from their indelible ink.  Keith covered his over with a different (and bolder) design.

17 & 18 of 27
Kerli - Estonian Singer/song writer - full name Kerli Koiv
Latin Tattoos - amicus humani generis - friend of the human race / Agnus Dei - Lamb of God
Two for the price of one!!  Kerli has the Christian "Lamb of God on her right arm, although she does not profess herself to be of that faith.  Amicus Humanis Generis is one way of expressing the thought which might cause some conservative classicists to cavil at.  Looks okay to me.
19 of 27
Louisa Johnson - X-Factor star
Latin Tattoo - valent quoniam tu hanc vitam vivere - they are strong since you live this life
In keeping with my positive approach, I won't say much about this one here.  I will say this is another two for one deal.  Louisa also has XI I XCVIII on her neck/shoulder which is her birthday on Roman numerals.  This is one half of a matching pair with her beau, whose birthday (also in Roman numerals) is on his chest).

20 of 27
Louisa Johnson - X-Factor star (still)
Latin Tattoo - XI I XCVIII - Jan 11, 1998
Louisa also has XI I XCVIII on her neck/shoulder which is her birthday on Roman numerals.  This is one half of a matching pair with her beau, whose birthday (also in Roman numerals) is on his chest).
21 of 27
Lyndsey Gunnulfsen - Lead singer in the trio PVRIS
Latin Tattoo - Eid Mar - The Ides of March (aka March 15)
Might be my favourite in the whole group.  Not just the date of Julius Caesar's assassination, it is the original spelling of Ides - what Caesar Augustus would have called old school. It is also Lynn Gvnn's birthday.

22 of 27
Niki Taylor - Super-model
Latin Tattoo - amor vincit omnia - love conquers all
We now arrive at Niki Taylor and her Keith Urban inspired ink.  Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be a readily available image of Niki's.  What you see here is the tat that she had done to cover up the original Latin adage, after she and Keith disproved it.  As a matter of fact, all of her ink has been removed, since young Ms Taylor found the body art was a barrier to some modelling gigs.  According to her, it was more painful than childbirth.
23 of 27
Nikki Sanderson - Actress (got her start on Coronation Street) and 'glamour model' - which seems redundant and totally at odds with Corrie!
Latin Tattoo - memoria in aeterna - in eternal memory
If you are wondering about the word order in this and think that the translation is wrong ("should it be Memory in Eternity?"), have no fear.  The Romans often put the preposition in the middle of the phrase if there was also an adjective - adjective/preposition/noun.  If you already knew this, you probably graduated magna cum laude, if not summa cum laude.
24 of 27
Olivier Giroud - French footballer (okay, soccer player)
Latin Tattoo - Dominus regit me et nihil mihi deerit - God rules me and I shall lack for nothing or, as translated in the 23rd Psalm, "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want."
Giroud is a good Catholic lad, hence the biblical quote.
25 of 27
Sushmita Sen - Miss Universe 1994 and Bollywood actress
Latin Tattoo - aut viam inveniam aut faciam  - either I will find a way, or I will make it.
Jordan Hinson is not the only one who is citing Hannibal on his forearm.  The elegant Ms Sen has also graced herself with this challenge to circumstance.  For those who feel that every Latin tattoo has to be different from every other one, note how radically opposite the writing is on this one and Jordan's.
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26 of 27
Victoria Beckham - Singer (Spice Girls) and fashion icon
Latin Tattoo - de integro - from the start / VIII.V.MMVI - May 8, 2006
Ms Beckham had this tattoo done to commemorate her renewed nuptials vows with Becks.  We hope the marriage is solid, because the ink is fading, suggesting that this tattoo will soon only exist in pix like this one.
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Yasmine Yousaf - Music artist and one half of the duo Krewella
Latin Tattoo - certum est quia impossibile est - it is certain because it is impossible
According to her conversation with Lithium, this tattoo was done while she was 'slightly intoxicated'.  That has to be taking a chance.  Fortunately, someone was on form when they wrote the text.  The Latin is spot on (although the second est is a bit extraneous).  This line is ancient one - Tertullian (de Carne Christi) and expresses, not his faith (I believe it because it is irrational), but his historical method (what they describe is impossible, so it must have happened, because no one would relate invented nonsense that an eye witness could so easily disprove).
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