Inspiring Quotes to Use When You Want to Say 'Carpe Diem'

These Carpe Diem Quotes Inspire You to Take Charge of Your Life

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You will come across this Latin phrase when watching the 1989 Robin Williams movie, "Dead Poets Society." Robin Williams plays the role of an English professor who inspires his students with a short speech:

“Gather ye rosebuds while ye may. The Latin term for that sentiment is Carpe Diem. Now who knows what that means? Carpe Diem. That’s ‘seize the day.’ Gather ye rosebuds while ye may. Why does the writer use these lines? Because we are food for the worms, lads. Because believe it or not, each and every one of us in this room is one day going to stop breathing, turn cold, and die.
Now I would like you to step forward over here and peruse some of the faces from the past. You have walked past them many times. I don’t think you’ve really looked at them. They’re not very different from you, are they? Same haircuts. Full of hormones, just like you. Invincible, just like you feel. The world is their oyster. They believe they’re destined for great things, just like many of you. Their eyes are full of hope just like you. Did they wait until it was too late to make from their live even one iota of what they were capable?
Because you see, gentlemen, these boys are now fertilizing daffodils. But if you listen real close, you can hear them whisper their legacy to you. Go on, Lean in. Listen. Do you hear it? (whispers) Carpe. (whispers again) Cape. Carpe Diem. Seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary.”

This adrenaline-pumping speech explains the literal and philosophical meaning behind carpe diem. Carpe diem is a warcry. Carpe diem invokes the sleeping giant within you. It urges you to shed your inhibitions, pluck some courage, and grab every opportunity that comes your way. Carpe diem is the best way to say, "You only live once."

The History Behind Carpe Diem

For those who love history, carpe diem was first used in a poem in "Odes Book I," by the poet Horace in 23 BCE. The quote in Latin is as follows: “Dum loquimur, fugerit invida aetas. Carpe diem; quam minimum credula postero.” Loosely translated, Horace said, "While we’re talking, envious time is fleeing, pluck the day, put no trust in the future." While Williams translated carpe diem as "seize the day," it may not be linguistically accurate. The word "carpe" means to "pluck." So in a literal sense, it means, "to pluck the day."

Think of the day as a ripened fruit. The ripened fruit is waiting to be picked. You have to pluck the fruit at the right time and make the most of it. If you delay, the fruit will go stale. But if you pluck it at the right time, the rewards are innumerable.

Though Horace was the first to use carpe diem, the real credit goes to Lord Byron for introducing carpe diem in the English language. He used it in his work, "Letters." Carpe diem slowly crept into the lexicon of the Internet generation, when it was used in tandem with YOLO—You only live once. It soon became the catchword for the live-for-the-present generation.

The Real Meaning of Carpe Diem

Carpe diem means to live your life to the fullest. Every day offers you a ton of opportunities. Seize the opportunities and change your life. Fight your fears. Charge forward. Take the plunge. Nothing is ever achieved by holding back. If you want to carve your destiny, you've got to seize the day! Carpe diem!

You can say, "carpe diem" in other ways. Here are some quotes that you can use instead of saying, "carpe diem." Share these carpe diem quotes to start a revolution of change on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms. Take the world by storm.

Carpe Diem Quotes

Charles Buxton: "You will never find time for anything. If you want time you must make it."

Rob Sheffield: "The times you lived through, the people you shared those times with — nothing brings it all to life like an old mix tape. It does a better job of storing up memories than actual brain tissue can do. Every mix tape tells a story. Put them together, and they can add up to the story of a life."

Roman Payne: "It’s not that we have to quit this life one day, but it’s how many things we have to quit all at once: music, laughter, the physics of falling leaves, automobiles, holding hands, the scent of rain, the concept of subway trains… if only one could leave this life slowly!"

Albert Einstein: "Your imagination is your preview of life’s coming attractions."

Mother Teresa: "Life is a game, play it."

Thomas Merton: "Life is a very great gift and a great good, not because of what it gives us, but because of what it enables us to give to others."

Mark Twain: "The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time."

Bernard Berenson: "I wish I could stand on a busy corner, hat in hand, and beg people to throw me all their wasted hours."

Oliver Wendell Holmes: "Many people die with their music still in them. Why is this so? Too often it is because they are always getting ready to live. Before they know it, time runs out."

Hazel Lee: "I held a moment in my hand, brilliant as a star, fragile as a flower, a tiny sliver of one hour. I dropped it carelessly, Ah! I didn't know, I held opportunity."

Larry McMurtry: "If you wait, all that happens is that you get older."

Margaret Fuller: "Men for the sake of getting a living forget to live."

John Henry Cardinal Newman: "Fear not that life shall come to an end, but rather fear that it shall never have a beginning."

Robert Brault: "The more side roads you stop to explore, the less likely that life will pass you by."

Mignon McLaughlin: "Every day of our lives we are on the verge of making those slight changes that would make all the difference."

Art Buchwald: "Whether it's the best of times or the worst of times, it's the only time we've got."

Andrea Boydston: "If you woke up breathing, congratulations! You have another chance."

Russell Baker: "Life is always walking up to us and saying, "Come on in, the living's fine," and what do we do? Back off and take its picture."

Diane Ackerman: "I don't want to get to the end of my life and find that I lived just the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well."

Stephen Levine: "If you were going to die soon and had only one phone call you could make, who would you call and what would you say? And why are you waiting?"

Thomas P. Murphy: "Minutes are worth more than money. Spend them wisely."

Marie Ray: "Begin doing what you want to do now. We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand, and melting like a snowflake."

Mark Twain: "The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time."

Horace: "Who knows whether the Gods will add tomorrow to the present hour?/"

Henry James: "I think I don't regret a single 'excess' of my responsive youth—I only regret, in my chilled age, certain occasions and possibilities I didn't embrace."

Samuel Johnson: "Life is not long, and too much of it must not pass in idle deliberation of how it shall be spent."

Allen Saunders: "Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans."

Benjamin Franklin: "Lost time is never found again."

William Shakespeare: "I wasted time, and now doth time waste me."

Henry David Thoreau: "Only that day dawns to which we are awake."

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: "Every second is of infinite value."

Ralph Waldo Emerson: "We are always getting ready to live but never living."

Sydney J. Harris" "Regret for the things we did can be tempered by time; it is regret for the things we did not do that is inconsolable."

Adam Marshall" "You only live once; but if you live it right, once is enough."

Friedrich Nietzsche: "When one has a great deal to put into it a day has a hundred pockets."

Ruth Ann Schabacker" "Each day comes bearing its own gifts. Untie the ribbons."

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Khurana, Simran. "Inspiring Quotes to Use When You Want to Say 'Carpe Diem'." ThoughtCo, Sep. 8, 2021, Khurana, Simran. (2021, September 8). Inspiring Quotes to Use When You Want to Say 'Carpe Diem'. Retrieved from Khurana, Simran. "Inspiring Quotes to Use When You Want to Say 'Carpe Diem'." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 6, 2023).