You are here:

Latin/inscription grammar



I have a question regarding an inscription I want to put on a gift for my wife. The intended meaning is "from learning comes adaptation, and thence to success."
I am using "adaptation" in the biological/evolutionary sense, and intend "success" to be closer to "good fortune" in nuance. Essentially, it's a long-winded way of saying "we make our own luck", which reflects her love for her shooting hobby (the inscription is for her new target pistol).
The best I've been able to do is: Ex Eruditio Adaptatio Exinde Ad Felicitatem.
However, I have concerns. I generated "Adaptatio" out of "Adaptare", but am unable to determine its declension (as it seems to be a middle or late Latin word), or if the nominative is the correct form in this place.
Also, I'm not entirely certain I should be using the accusative form of "Felicitas"; in an inscription that's not really a complete sentence, should I use the nominative, or even genitive?
Thank you for any advice you can give!



ANSWER: Hello,

“Ex studio exercitioque mutatio atque etiam successus” is the correct translation of the phrase you mention.

Please note that: 1)"studium“(ablative "studio")and "exercitium" (ablative "exercitio") connected by the enclitic conjunction "-que"(=and)) correspond to "learning" + "practise" just because it is through learning and exercise that we achieve our  improvement and make our own luck; 2) mutatio” corresponds to “adaptation” in the  biological/ evolutionary sense, as you say; 3)“successus”  means exactly “ happy issue”/”good result”/” success “ as a "good fortune".

Also note that Latin, as a concise language,  omits not only the translation of the  verb “comes”  as it is implied in the preposition “Ex”, but also the word “to”, since the Latin sentence “Ex studio exercitioque mutatio atque etiam successus” already means “From learning [comes] adaptation and thence success”.

Anyway, you can read below a grammatical analysis of my translation with the appropriate cases, for Latin is an inflected language where each term changes ending, according to its role in a sentence.

As for your translation “Ex Eruditio Adaptatio Exinde Ad Felicitatem”, I’m sorry, but it is asbolutely wrong because you did not use the correct cases (see “eruditio” which is in the nominative instead of in the ablative) or the appropriate lexical terms (see “adaptatio” or “felicitas”).

To conclude, “Ex studio exercitioque mutatio atque etiam successus”  is the appropriate translation of what you want to say.

Hope this helps. Feel free however to ask me again, should you have some doubt.
Best regards,

-From = EX (preposition which takes the ablative case)

-learning = STUDIO (ablative singular of STUDIUM, 2nd.declension)EXERCITIOQUE (ablative singular of EXERCITIUM, 2nd.declension, + the conjunction -QUE (=and), as an enclitic attached to the end of the word).
Note that ERUDITIO, whose ablative is “ERUDITIONE, means “knowledge”/ erudition” rather than “learning” as “application to learning” from which comes adaptation" in the biological/evolutionary sense.Also note that Latin adds EXERCITIUM in the ablative just because it is through learning and exercise that we achieve our  improvement and make our own luck.

-comes = NO translation as it is implied

-adaptation = MUTATIO (subject in the nominative case, feminine noun, 3rd.declension).
Note that MUTATIO means exactly “adaptation” as “change”/”mutation” in the biological/evolutionary sense as well as improvement in this context.

-and thence to = ATQUE ETIAM (conjunctions). Latin prefers to drop "to" (Latin AD + the accusative case)and to use SUCCESSUS as a second subject in the nominative.

-success =SUCCESSUS (subject in the nominative case, masculine noun, 4th.declension)

[an error occurred while processing this directive]---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------


Thank you so much for the exhaustive analysis! What Latin knowledge I have is an incidental part of my profession, so I lack any practical usage of it as a language. As a result, I'm fascinated by what I've learned these past few days, and I do have some follow-up questions.
I chose "adaptatio" over "mutatio" because, for biologists, the derived English term "mutation" conjures a very specific definition regarding alterations to an organism's genetic code, whereas we see the Darwinian term "adaptation" as a more general (and prosaic) reference to the evolutionary process; the one implies random chance on a molecular level, whereas the other (perhaps unfairly) attributes effort and perseverance to an organism or species. If a degree of lexical license might be allowed for the sake of poetry, would the nominative case apply equally to either term in this case?
Also, I'm curious about the nuances between "etiam", "inde", and "exinde". I'm trying to avoid a literal, spatial/temporal reference, and would rather use a term that implies a logical or philosophical result. I know I'm splitting hairs here; I do apologize for my obsessiveness!
Thank you!


Sorry, but the term ADAPTATIO does not exist in classical Latin where we only have the  transitive verb  ADAPTO (I adapt to a thing /I fit /I adjust) that we seldom read  only in Suetonius (Life of Otho, 12 and Life of Claudius, 33).

It is in late Latin and then in medieval Latin that the term “adaptatio” (nominative, 3rd.declension) was coined just from the verb ADAPTO and it is from ADAPTATIO that  derives the English  term “adaptation”.

In short, if you really want to use the late/medieval  Latin noun ADAPTATIO instead of MUTATIO just as a lexical licence for the sake of poetry, you must say :“Ex studio exercitioque adaptatio atque etiam successus” where ADAPTATIO is a nominative case, of course.

Anyway, as I’ve already said, the classical Latin term MUTATIO  means exactly “adaptation” as “change”/”mutation” in the biological/evolutionary sense as well as improvement in your context, since the different meanings that the derived English term "mutation” acquired have nothing to do with Latin.

As for  “atque etiam”,"inde", and "exinde", please note that the two conjunctions ATQUE ETIAM  when used together  imply  exactly "a logical or philosophical result, not a literal, spatial/temporal reference" as it happens with INDE and EXINDE or DEINDE.

Hope I’ve helped you.
Best regards and thanks a lot for your donation,


All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts




I am an expert in Latin Language and Literature and I'll be glad to answer any questions concerning this matter.


Over 25 years teaching experience.

I received my Ph.D. in Classics (summa cum laude) from Genova University (Italy).

This expert accepts donations:

©2017 All rights reserved.

[an error occurred while processing this directive]