Dusty Phrases

Hi! Welcome to “Dusty Phrases.” You will find below an ancient phrase in one 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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Labor omnia vincit


Work conquers all

This optimistic quote originates from the Roman poet Virgi, but was adopted much later as a motto of the labor movement. From wiki:

Labor omnia vincit or Labor omnia vincit improbus is a Latin phrase meaning “Work conquers all”. The phrase is adapted from Virgil‘s Georgics, Book I, lines 145–6: …Labor omnia vicit / improbus (“Steady work overcame all things”). The poem was written in support of Augustus Caesar‘s “Back to the land” policy, aimed at encouraging more Romans to become farmers. The actual meaning of the phrase can be obtained as the following: “anything can be achieved if proper work is applied”.

A frequent motto within the U.S labor movement, the phrase is a historically significant slogan. Used by the earliest U.S labor unions such as the American Federation of Labor and other precursors to the modern AFL-CIO, the motto continues to be a traditional and defining statement of purpose on contemporary labor union emblems including the International Union of Operating Engineers and the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America. The motto also appears on the original 1925 flag of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, the labor union of African-American Pullman Company porters founded by civil rights leader A. Philip Randolph. The College of Engineering, Guindy in Chennai, India and founded in the year 1794 has the phrase “Labor Omnia Vincit” in its logo. This may be the earliest adoption of the phrase by any organization.

The motto is used by the Geelong Trades Hall Council in Australia.

The phrase is also a frequent motto across many townships, cities, and states. Currently the state motto of the State of Oklahoma and incorporated into its state seal in 1907, the slogan originally appeared on the territorial seal of Oklahoma Territory.

If you look closely, you will see the phrase (along with several other interesting symbols) on The Great Seal of the State of Oklahoma.