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Latin Motto: Liber Vita

by Terry Simonsen

Hi! A friend of mine belongs to a family of German nobility, and they have a motto in their heraldic shield that reads: "Liber Vita" (which obviously is supposed to mean "Free Life", as the German expression for "lord/nobleman" is "Freiherr", literally meaning "free man").

May I just ask then: Is "Liber Vita" a fully correct way to express "Free Life" in Latin? And if not, what would be the correct Latin translation of "Free Life" be?

Best regards

Hi Terry,

The motto Liber Vita, to me, does not immediately mean free life. As the adjective liber is masculine, it cannot modify the feminine noun vita. One possibility is that the word vita is ablative, and the whole phrase means something like free in the mode of living or free with respect to our livelihood.

If you have more information about this noble family, I may be able to say more. I won't venture to put the words FREE LIFE into Latin. What does FREE LIFE mean?

Hope this helps and thanks for asking a Latin teacher.



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