nosce te ipsum

[ nohs-ke tey ip-soom; English noh-see tee ip-suhm ]

  1. know thyself.

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Example Sentences

(The end of learning is to know God, Milton, or: nosce te ipsum; know thyself which is of the supreme self or soul).


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More About Nosce Te Ipsum

What does nosce te ipsum mean?

Nosce te ipsum is a Latin phrase meaning know thyself.

 Nosce te ipsum is an ancient aphorism that has been passed down from antiquity and expresses the idea that self-discovery and realization are one of the goals everyone should have in life. It is often used in self-help literature, meditation sessions, and in art untranslated, but the translated aphorism “know thyself” or “knowing oneself” is used much more often modernly.

The aphorism is often compared to the Greek phrase “Γνώθι Σεαυτόν” or gnothi seauton, which has the same meaning. 

While the untranslated phrase nosce te ipsum is rarely used in modern media outside of artistic representations, poems, or speeches, the phrase “know thyself” has permeated culture of all types. Scholars have suggested that many parts of the Shakespearian tragedy Hamlet were inspired by this phrase, with the character Polonius giving a speech on the subject containing the phrase “This above all: to thine own self be true” or “Above all else, be true to yourself.”

This recurring theme of knowing oneself and acting truthfully on that image is a common theme in pop culture, with some self-discovery films like “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “The Truman Show,” “Perks of Being a Wallflower” and several others defining self-discovery as its own genre of fiction.

Example: Whenever I felt anxious about performing, my counselor used to always tell me, “Nosce te ipsum.”

Where does nosce te ipsum come from?

The first records of the Latin phrase nosce te ipsum in English come from around the 1520s. 

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What are some words that often get used in discussing nosce te ipsum?

How is nosce te ipsum used in real life?

Nosce te ipsum is a rarely used phrase, most often used in philosophical or literary discussions.


Try using nosce te ipsum!

From which of the following languages is nosce te ipsum?

A. Greek
B. Latin
C. Portuguese
D. French