Sic Parvis Magna – Meaning, Origin and Usage

Are you hoping to inspire someone by telling them that it's possible to build something great from the ground up, starting with very little? You could use the phrase "Sic Parvis Magna", an old Latin saying that has recently become popular again.

We unpack its meaning and origin here.


Sic Parvis Magna is a Latin phrase that can be translated to English as "greatness from small beginnings", or "so great and so small". It can mean that even people with humble origins can go on to achieve great things, or that every ambitious project has to begin small.

Example Usage

  • I am thinking about getting a Sic Parvis Magna tattoo to remind me that anything is possible!
  • That famous tech CEO was once an underprivileged inner city kid who had to rely on free school lunches, but you know what they say — sic parvis magna, right?
  • Come on, son, I know you're having a rough time with that Latin homework right now, but if you study hard, it'll get easier. You might even really enjoy it. Remember, sic parvis magna.


Sic Parvis Magna comes from the Latin language, but it became popular when the 16th century English explorer and sea captain Sir Francis Drake adopted Sic Parvis Magna as his personal motto. This explorer's main claim to fame lies in the fact that he and his crew were able to circumnavigate the Earth in one single expedition, which unfolded between 1577 and 1580.

Sir Francis Drake was honored with a knighthood the following year. After this, he adopted a coat of arms, which also contained several Latin phrases. The first was "Auxilio Divino", meaning "by divine aid" (with God's help), while the second was "Sic Parvis Magna", which was displayed underneath Sir Francis' crest. As such, the famous explorer's full motto would equate to "with divine help, greatness arises from small beginnings".

Sic Parvis Magna once again became popular after it appeared in a video game franchise developed by Naughty Dog, called Uncharted and released by Sony for PlayStation 4. In the game, protagonist Nathan Drake finds the phase Sic Parvis Magna inscribed on a ring that once belonged to Sir Francis Drake, whom Nathan believes might be his distant ancestor.

The phrase's appearance in Uncharted sparked interest among fans of the franchise, which blends history with fiction and game play. They then promptly began discussing the meaning and history of Sic Parvis Magna online. Finding truth and beauty in the phrase, many even started getting tattoos containing the words Sic Parvis Magna.

Phrases Similar to Sic Parvis Magna

Other phrases that convey a similar meaning include:

  • From the ground up, meaning creating something through hard work and with little resources to start off with.
  • Mighty oaks from little acorns grow shows that even the smallest beginnings can lead to great things.
  • A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step likewise illustrates this idea, by showing that proper planning can help someone achieve ambitious goals despite obstacles.

Phrases Opposite to Sic Parvis Magna

  • How the mighty have fallen illustrates that it is equally possible to be toppled from greatness, thus creating the opposite meaning.

Acceptable Ways to Say Sic Parvis Magna

Sic Parvis Magna can, in the context of its modern use, best be seen as an inspirational saying. You could use Sic Parvis Magna to show that it is possible to build knowledge from ignorance or prosperity from poverty. You could also use the phrase Sic Parvis Magna to talk about great improvement in other areas — maybe someone you know is just getting started at the gym after previously being a couch potato, for example. You could adopt it as your own motto if you're working toward a big goal and the odds don't appear to be in your favor, too.

By using Sic Parvis Magna, you show that you believe that success is possible, even if it may seem unlikely at the moment.

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