It’s a phrase we all know, understand and translate incorrectly.
Carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero.
From lyric poet Horace, in the first century BC, it is translated as “seize” the day.
Carpe actually means “pluck”, giving us the more literal translation:
Pluck the day, trusting as little as possible in the future.
Also quoted by Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society, one of the best interpretations came in the 17th century, in a poem by Robert Herrick, which begins…
To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time
- Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
- Old Time is still a-flying;
- And this same flower that smiles today
- To-morrow will be dying.
And just for the fun of it, some lighter interpretations:
- Carpe Dentum – Seize the Teeth
- Carp Diem – Fish Of The Day
- Carpe Denim – Seize the Pants
- Carpe Diet – Seize The Rice Cake
- Crape Diem – Sh*tty Day
- Carpe Ductum – Seize The Tape
- Carpe Jugulum – Go For The Throat
- Carpe Lactuca Sativa – Seize ‘er Salad
- Carpe Noctem – Seize The Night
- Carpe Per Diem – Seize the Expense Check
- Carpe PM – Seize The Midol
- Carpe Sharpei – Seize The Wrinkled Dog
- Carpe Vacationem – Seize the Day Off
- Carpe Viagram – Fetch The Stick
***And my personal favorite, from a recent bumper sticker sighting***
- Carpe Scrotum -Grab Life by the Balls