Memento mori is a Latin phrase that holds a rather scary and not-so-talked discussion. It is a symbolic reminder of mortality.
It even translates to mean ‘remember that you must die’. If you’ve come across this phrase, there are chances you’ve used it well enough to look for an alternative.
This may be out of sheer desire to employ a different phrase or just to flex your command of the English Language.
Thus, it explains why you found your way to this post. However, in this post, I will be discussing in detail phrases that are synonyms to ‘memento mori’. To discover more, keep reading on!
Best 20 Similar Phrases to Memento Mori
Some of the best similar phrases to memento mori include ‘Living is dying’, ‘Ashes to ashes’, ‘Remember death’, ‘Life is fleeting’, ‘Tempus fugit’, and ‘All flesh is grass’ amongst others.
As observed from the aforementioned phrase; while most of these similar phrases to memento mori come in their English language form, others retain their original Latin form and flair.
Also, these synonyms are spot-on as they do not derail from the main context of the original phrase, rather they put the subject of death into different perspectives. Thereby, drawing out more thoughts and meaning.
Well, there are more of these similar phrases in this post. Below is a highlight of them while I discuss them subsequently.
- Ashes to ashes
- Life is short
- Living is dying
- Dust to dust
- Life is uncertain
- You will die in due time
- Carpe diem
- Remember death
- Mortality knows no morality
- You can’t live forever
- Life is fleeting
- Memento vivre
- Tempus fugit
- The end of life is inevitable
- Live life to the fullest while you can
- All flesh is grass
- Remember the skulls and bones
- Life is a mystery
- Living is an adventure with an end
- Life is a journey
1. Ashes to ashes
‘Ashes to ashes’ is an appropriate phrase to use as a similar phrase to ‘Memento mori’. Ashes are substances formed whenever wood is burnt, as well as humans, especially in the case of burial by incineration. Also, this same substance makes up a certain amount of the soil.
However, this phrase is explained to mean that since man was made from the dust of the earth which must’ve contained ash, then man is bound to return to ashes which doesn’t happen until man dies. This reemphasized the position of death as a catalyst to maintain balance in the cycle of living.
Saying this phrase is common as it has been used several times to refer to the inevitability of death in the life of man.
But don’t make your choice to use it for the same reason. ‘Ashes to ashes’ needs no deep explanation because the meaning is embedded in the words.
2. Life is short
‘Life is short’ is another interesting phrase you can use as your similar phrase to ‘Memento mori’. Here, the version of the short I’m talking about has to do with time frequency and length.
You’re using the ‘life is short’ analogy to tell someone that there’s not much time left if they’re waiting for the right time to do things.
And you’re taking this side because of an informed call since you know that death is always hanging around the corner waiting for the right time to strike.
This will relive the person in question’s memory of how tragic death can be, especially if it is to come unannounced or when you’re not prepared. That way, they still get the point that they must die.
3. Living is dying
‘Living is dying’ is a phrase similar to ‘Memento mori’ which you can employ. This phrase makes a strong and controversial assertion that living is dying. I say it is a controversial statement because saying that being is the same thing as dying sounds counter-intuitive.
However, it makes sense if you see it from the perspective that it takes someone alive for death to occur. Therefore, living is threatened by death which ironically isn’t escapable.
Using this phrase instead of ‘Memento mori’ puts things in a different perspective which now sees living as the same as dying, and dying the same as living to an extent – if we’re considering the principle of reincarnation.
4. Dust to dust
‘Dust to dust’ is a similar phrase to ‘Memento mori’ which comes up just like ‘Ashes to ashes’. Here, you’re attributing the nature of man and the earth to dust. This is valid if we’re going by biblical accounts, to posit that man was made from the dust of the earth and he shall return to it upon his dismissal.
Thereby, saying ‘dust to dust’ to someone instead of ‘Memento mori’ spells it all out for them. First, you’re using the English language, and second, you’re using a simple method of symbolism to explain how crucial death is to the wheel of life which is always turning while carrying everyone along.
5. Life is uncertain
‘Life is uncertain’ can be your preferred synonym for ‘Memento mori’. With this, you’re painting the concept of life and death as having no certainties.
Here, death can’t be averted or conquered as it is uncertain how you can do so.
6. You will die in due time
‘You will die in due time’ is a more brute but straightforward similar phrase to ‘Memento mori’.
Thus, you can use it as an alternative to saying ‘Memento mori’ because it confirms that death awaits everyone when the time is due. Here, the trend is that death comes at the appointed time for anyone, so there are no mistakes.
7. Carpe diem
‘Carpe diem’ is a similar phrase to ‘Memento mori’ which you can employ. This Latin phrase means ‘seize your day’, and relates to the discussion of death in a way.
When someone is faced with ‘carpe diem’ the first thought is that the person is getting motivated.
This is because the phrase encourages people to be more productive than they already are. However, this much activeness and pursuit of excellence are fueled by the fear of death which comes unannounced.
8. Remember death
‘Remember death’ is a spot-on similar phrase to ‘Memento mori’. Using this line is a resounding way of laying serious emphasis on why remembering death is crucial.
9. Mortality knows no morality
‘Mortality knows no morality’ is another phrase that can replace ‘Memento mori’.
Here, you’re asserting that moral standards don’t apply to death. Thus, death changes the course of life entirely.
10. You can’t live forever
‘You can’t live forever’ is a subtle similar phrase to ‘Memento mori’.
Almost like borrowing words from Jay Z’s track- Young Forever; this phrase rather suggests that no one lives forever. This makes death a compulsory rite of passage.
11. Life is fleeting
‘Life is fleeting’ makes this list a similar phrase to ‘Memento mori’. With this instead of ‘Memento mori’, you’ll be using the simple and common adage about the fleeting nature of life to convey the message.
Instead of telling the person to embrace death, you’re telling them to stay alive and live well before the day of reckoning comes.
12. Memento vivre
‘Memento vivre’ is a Latin phrase that means ‘Remember to live’. Although it seems to be a counter-intuitive move to consider this as a synonym for ‘Memento mori’, it however, helps to remind people to live life to the fullest because it could be cut short at any time.
13. Tempus fugit
‘Tempus fugit’ is one of the Latin similar phrases to ‘Memento mori’ which you can use, especially if your audience doesn’t understand English.
This phrase means ‘Time flies’ which reminds us that there’s no limitless time here on earth. It repositions death as one of the phenomena associated with the fleeting nature of time.
14. The end of life is inevitable
‘The end of life is inevitable’ is yet another similar phrase to ‘Memento mori’. This is because it becomes clear to posit that the end of life is inevitable – you can’t run away from it.
This is the same message embedded in ‘Memento mori’.
15. Live life to the fullest while you can
‘Live life to the fullest while you can’ is more of an admonishment than a mere similar phrase to ‘Memento mori’. Living life to the fullest entails a lot of things, which include embracing the reality that you will go away from the surface of the earth someday.
Therefore, this phrase makes absolute sense to be a synonym to ‘Memento mori’ because it suggests that every person should live and enjoy their lives while they can.
This invariably means that life on earth is not eternal and death sets in whenever it is time. Saying this to someone, especially an English-speaking and hearing folk, they’ll understand what it means on a jump.
16. All flesh is grass
‘All flesh is grass’ is a smart phrase that you can use as an alternative to ‘Memento mori’. This is the perspective from which this phrase comes forward. This phrase partially used symbolism where the ‘grass’ is supposed to represent earth and flesh stands in for ‘man’.
With this phrase instead of ‘Memento mori’, you’ll be asserting that all of mankind at their appointed time will go back to the earth since Biblical history says we come from it.
That is to say that humans and plants of the land are supported by the same medium which is earth and when the time is right come back to it.
17. Remember the skulls and bones
‘Remember the skulls and bones’ is another similar phrase to ‘memento mori’ which you can use. This phrase deals with a lot of symbolism as the two things that it instructs anyone to remember are associated with death and discontinuity of life.
Using this phrase in place of ‘Memento mori’ means you’re trying to remind the person about death without being blunt.
To this end, you’re using items associated with death to convey your message. Therefore, if the person is to fixate their memory on bones and skulls, it reminds them that death is a real thing and is inevitable,
18. Life is a mystery
‘Life is a mystery’ is another intelligent phrase you can use as a similar phrase to ‘memento mori’.
Here, you’re referencing the uncertain nature of mysteries to that of death as no one has worked out how to evade it for a long time now.
That is to say, you want to use the nature of a mystery to emphasize death. Hence, you’re reminding the person of the nature of death that is unfathomable by man so far.
19. Living is an adventure with an end
‘Living is an adventure with an end’ is a fitting phrase that is similar to ‘memento mori’. This phrase emphasizes life as an adventure where you can get to experience a lot of things.
However, an even more important note is that all adventures will end one day. The same thing applies to life, which as being an adventure is prone to an end – oftentimes abrupt.
With this as your preferred synonym for ‘memento mori’, you’re sure to reiterate that living your life is like embarking on an adventure that will end whether or not you found the mysteries you went out to search for. It reminds you that death is the ultimate arbiter in life.
20. Life is a journey
‘Life is a journey’ may be the last similar phrase to ‘memento mori’ in this post, but it is not the least you can find out there.
You can use this line of phrase as your preferred synonym or alternative to ‘memento mori’ because it reminds us of the circle of life and death, and how that awareness should shape your lives and perspective.
Asserting that ‘life is a journey’ is brilliant because indeed it is. Citing ‘memento mori’, this phrase serves right as a synonym because it establishes the already known fact that there’s no logical journey without a destination – the end or beginning of another journey depending on the case.
On that note, this phrase suggests that life is a journey and has a destination or end which is death in this case.
Therefore, using this phrase to emphasize the inevitability of death in life on earth is not a bad idea. And just like the previous phrase, it reminds you that there’s an end – death
The words are out…this post discussed shreds and particles all there are too similar phrases to ‘Memento mori’.
This Latin phrase which reminds people of their end which is death, also encourages them to live fully until the clock ticks.
However, since you asked for it…I did come through for you. I discussed 20 similar phrases to ‘Memento mori’. As it is burdensome to have all the synonyms mentioned in this post, you can choose one or two out of the many phrases and let them stick to you.