It is better to ask forgiveness than permission

By jpbarth, in 'English to Latin Translation', Sep 3, 2011.

  1. jpbarth New Member


    Thank you in advance for your help and expertise in translating this saying.

    I would like to know the Latin translation of the saying: "It is better to ask forgiveness than permission."
    This is commonly used in reference to making decisions and implementing actions.

    Again I appreciate the assistance and admire the work that is already being displayed on through this web page.

    Semper Fidelis
  2. Imprecator Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Clementiam quaerere praestat licentiam
  3. socratidion Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Unfortunately, this means 'to ask for forgiveness is better than permission'.
    melius est clementiam quam licentiam quaerere. makes it clearer. I'd prefer 'veniam' to 'clementiam'; maybe 'petere' rather than 'quaerere', though there's not much in it. So:
    melius est veniam quam licentiam petere.
  4. Imprecator Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    I don't quite see why you think that the original wouldn't work
  5. Matthaeus Vemortuicida strenuus

    • Civis Illustris
    your verſion would work with a quam in it
  6. Manus Correctrix QVAE CORRIGIT

    • Civis Illustris
    I don’t think præstat really allows the concept of ‘asking’ to carry over to the second part. The versions with quam seem to make it clearer what is being opposed to what.

    We could do:

    Potius veniam quam licentiam petere.

    Potius [est] [ut] venia quam licentia petatur.

    Potius venia quam licentia petenda est.

    Non venia sed licentia petenda est.
  7. jpbarth New Member

    Wow... I guess might thoughts on simple translations were greatly mistaken.
    Thank you all very much.
  8. scrabulista Consul

    • Consul
    I've always heard it as "it's easier to ask forgiveness than permission."

    Ideally, the organization's hierarchy should be respected but that may not be practical.

    Consider substituting facilius for potius.

    I had kicked around:

    Facilius permissionem quam remissionem petere.. although remissio = "forgiveness" is ecclesiastical, and permissio is rare compared to permissus or licentia.

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