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How Do You Say "Fearless and Determined in Latin?


Question: How Do You Say "Fearless and Determined in Latin?
In Forum Thread #4518, Mike180 asks, "I have tried to translate the motto fearless and determined. So far I think it would be translated intrepidi et certi, but I am not quite sure if this is correct. Is there anyone who can help me with this?"

Other people have asked how to translate other bits that make sense in English but just don't quite work the same in Latin. Most recently, I was asked what form I should use for magnus 'great' for a group. Most of what is said about 'fearless' or 'determined' applies to 'great.'

Answer: My answer is in two parts.
  1. The first is relevant to many translation-into-Latin questions
  2. and the second provides possible solutions to Mike180's problem.


In English, we can say "fearless and determined" without knowing who is fearless and determined, but we can't do that in Latin. It would be like saying "are determined" in English without providing the subject. To say "are determined" meaningfully in English, we need to know the who. Possible sentences using are determined are
  1. We are determined to do well on our motto-generating assignment.
  2. You are determined to have the last word, aren't you?
In the first example, the subject is more than 1 person and in the second example, it is 1 person. If the person who is described as fearless and determined is a 1st person singular (I) or 3rd person singular (he, she, or it), then in most cases you wouldn't say "are determined." Instead, you'd say "am/is determined."

In Latin, you have to know whether it is a 1st/2nd/3rd person singular or plural before you can translate an adjective like "determined". In addition to needing to know whether the person (people) is (are) singular or plural, you also need to know whether those involved are male or female. It is even possible that what is being described is neuter. Those options make a big difference in Latin. This is the general topic of "agreement," which I have written about on other pages.


In this example, Mike180 gave some indication of the gender and number of the people described as determined and fearless. He did this by providing potential translations. His example was Intrepidi et certi. While this could be a genitive singular masculine or neuter, the logical assumption is that this nominative -- subject case. If it is nominative, it is also masculine and plural. In fact, it is a fine translation, but it isn't the only possibility. It could also be translated
  1. intrepidi certique or
  2. intrepidi et constantes,
as suggested by other forum posters. The first variant uses an alternate form of the conjunction (and). The second variant suggests another adjective for "determined".

Of course, if Mike180 is referring to a group of women, exclusively, these translations would not work.

In the case of magnus, if the group is masculine (plural, of course, since it's a group) and modifying the subject of a sentence, it would be magni; otherwise, it is likely to be a different form for a different case.

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