Trend Watch

Fluctuat Nec Mergitur

The Paris city motto becomes an anti-terrorist statement


Lookups spiked on November 14, 2015.


Following the attacks in Paris, the city's motto became an anti-terrorist slogan. It was painted on a wall at the Place de la République and used in a much-forwarded cartoon response by one of the cartoonists from Charlie Hebdo.

Fluctuat nec mergitur is Latin for "it is tossed by the waves but does not sink" and appears on Paris's coat of arms, under a ship. The city's location on the Seine river made it a center of commerce; markets were formerly located on the banks of the Seine so that boats could deliver food and wine. The boatsman's guild used this motto before it was adopted as the city's motto in the 14th century.

Other words looked up following the Paris attacks tell the story of how people reacted to the news: jihad, terrorism, and nihilism were looked up, but also pray, solidarity, and surreal. Surreal is a word that is often looked up following tragedies, including 9/11, Newtown, and the Boston Marathon bombing.

The French words attentat ("attack"), arrondissement ("district") en plein ("in the middle of"), and égalité ("equality") were also looked up.

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