Dusty Phrases

Hi! Welcome to “Dusty Phrases.” You will find a phrase below, in one ancient language or another, along with its English translation. You may also find the power to inspire your friends or provoke dread among your enemies.

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Alis Volat Propiis


She flies with her own wings.

This Latin phrase is the state motto of Oregon, U.S.A.

“She Flies With Her Own Wings” (Alis Volat Propriis) became the official state motto of Oregon in 1987, replacing “The Union” (adopted in 1957).

In 1859, the state of Oregon adopted a new seal, which included “The Union,”likely an affirmation of legislators’ unionist sentiments immediately preceding the Civil War. During Oregon’s centennial in 1959, the state legislature officially chose “The Union“as the state motto. In 1987, the Oregon legislature changed the state motto from “The Union“to “She Flies With Her Own Wings,”the unofficial motto from Oregon’s territorial period.

Supporters of the change argued that “She Flies With Her Own Wings“reflected Oregon’s independent nature. The phrase comes from the Latin “alis volat propiis,”which was first added to Oregon’s territorial seal by Jesse Quinn Thornton, a judge for Oregon’s provisional government and later a state legislator. While it is now translated as “She Flies With Her Own Wings,”Thornton translated the phrase as “He Uses His Own Wings.”He said it was “an allusion to the general facts of the history of colonization of Oregon and the establishment and maintenance of the provisional government without aid of the mother country.”Oregon’s motto, Alis Volat Propriis, meaning “She flies with her own wings,” was the motto of the Territory of Oregon. This seems to be a corruption of Lines 1141 and 1142 of Seneca’s Hippolytus, Act IV. They read, “ambiguis Mobilis alis hora.”