Fluctuat nec mergitur

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Fluctuat nec mergitur is a Latin phrase meaning "(She) is tossed by the waves but doesn't sink". The motto has been used since at least 1358 by the city of Paris. It can be literally translated as follows:

  • fluctuat: the verb fluctuāre in the third-person singular of the present tense in the active voice in the indicative mood. Fluctuāre means "to be wave-like", "move up and down"; of persons and passions, "to be tossed about", "to waver". In English the verb fluctuāre became fluctuate. The subject is not explicitly expressed, and can be inferred to be "he", "she" or "it". "She" is used in the English translation because ships and cities are traditionally regarded as feminine.
  • nec: contraction of neque, which is equivalent to et nōn, meaning "and not", "and does not", "and is not", "nor".
  • mergitur: the verb mergere in the third-person singular of the present tense in the passive voice in the indicative mood. Mergere means "to dip", "plunge into liquid", "immerse", "sink", "overwhelm". In English the verb mergere gave rise to merge as well as to submerge (literally "merge under", "sub-merge").

Motto of Paris

Fluctuat nec mergitur is the motto of Paris, France, translated into French as "Elle est battue par les flots, mais ne sombre pas": "She is tossed by the waves but does not sink". This motto is present in the city coat of arms depicting a ship floating on a rough sea. Both motto and city arms have their origins in the river Seine boatsman's corporation; this powerful guild ruled the city's trade and commerce as early as the Roman era.[1][2]

Although this corporation through the centuries became an entity resembling more a municipal government than a trade organization, they maintained their original arms and motto, and it is for this that the Mairie de Paris bears them still today. It was made official on November 24, 1853 by Baron Haussmann.[1]

The motto appears on the coat of arms of the City of Paris, as well as on the official livery of the Paris Fire Brigade. Following the November 2015 Paris attacks, the Latin-language motto had a surge in popularity and was used in social media as a symbol of Paris' resistance in the face of terrorism.


  1. ^ a b Tausin, Henri (1914). Les Devises des villes de France, Leur origine, leur historique, avec les descriptions des armoiries [The mottos of French towns: their origins and history, with descriptions of their coats of arms]. Paris: Éditions Honoré Champion. pp. 128–130.
  2. ^ "Paris, a Roman city". Mairie de Paris. Retrieved 27 February 2012.

External links

  • Media related to Fluctuat nec mergitur at Wikimedia Commons
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