Definition of carpe diem
- The multimillionaire said that he owed his success in life to his belief in carpe diem.
This Latin phrase, which literally means "pluck the day," was used by the Roman poet Horace to express the idea that we should enjoy life while we can. His full injunction, "carpe diem quam minimum credula postero,” can be translated as “pluck the day, trusting as little as possible in the next one,” but carpe diem alone has come to be used as shorthand for this entire idea, which is more widely known as "seize the day."
The 1989 movie Dead Poets Society introduced late-20th-century audiences to the phrase, but the sentiment has been expressed in many literatures, perhaps most famously in 16th- and 17th-century English poetry. One of the best-known examples (and an example featured prominently in Dead Poets Society) is in the first stanza of Robert Herrick's 1648 "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
Tomorrow will be dying.
While the sentiment has long been expressed in English, the phrase carpe diem didn't begin appearing in print in English until the early 19th century. Two centuries later, the phrase is found on mugs and T-shirts and in the names of various enterprises and organizations.
Carpe diem, a phrase that comes from the Roman poet Horace, means literally "Pluck the day", though it's usually translated as "Seize the day". A free translation might be "Enjoy yourself while you have the chance". For some people, Carpe diem serves as the closest thing to a philosophy of life as they'll ever have.
First Known Use: 1817See Words from the same year
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having a quality expressive of sadness
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