carpe diem

noun
car·pe di·em | \ ˈkär-pe-ˈdē-ˌem , -ˈdī- , -əm \

Definition of carpe diem 

: the enjoyment of the pleasures of the moment without concern for the future The multimillionaire said that he owed his success in life to his belief in carpe diem.

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The origin of 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.

Did You Know?

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.

Examples of carpe diem in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Aspirational selfies were on the menu this week, with the best beauty Instagrams proving that self-facing snaps are a matter of carpe diem—after all, the better the backdrop, the more memorable the moment. Calin Van Paris, Vogue, "The 10 Best Beauty Instagrams of the Week: Solange Knowles, Kaia Gerber, and More," 20 May 2018 High Versus Low Episode one begins with Gianni Versace (Édgar Ramírez) opening his eyes to carpe diem. Emilia Petrarca, The Cut, "Fashion Recap: The Assassination of Gianni Versace, Episode 1," 18 Jan. 2018 With the free-agent market frozen in an unprecedented ice age of inactivity by major-league clubs, perhaps the Brewers merely decided carpe diem was the proper course at this juncture. Tom Haudricourt, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Haudricourt: Does Yu Darvish makes sense for the Brewers now?," 22 Jan. 2018 With the free-agent market frozen in an unprecedented ice age of inactivity by major-league clubs, perhaps the Brewers merely decided carpe diem was the proper course at this juncture. Tom Haudricourt, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Haudricourt: Does Yu Darvish makes sense for the Brewers now?," 22 Jan. 2018 Episode one begins with Gianni Versace (Édgar Ramírez) opening his eyes to carpe diem. Emilia Petrarca, The Cut, "Fashion Recap: The Assassination of Gianni Versace, Episode 1," 18 Jan. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'carpe diem.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of carpe diem

1817, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for carpe diem

Latin, literally, pluck the day

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