Kentucky State Latin Motto

"Deo gratiam habeamus"

Kentucky Latin State Motto and Flag

(Let us be grateful to God)

Adopted in July 15, 2002.

Language: Latin

Focus: Religion

See Kentucky's English Motto

In 2002 Kentucky also recognized an official Latin motto: "Deo gratiam habeamus" (Let us be grateful to God). This phrase appears in the preamble to the constitution of the commonwealth of Kentucky

"Deo gratiam habeamus" has been translated as: "Let us be grateful to God"

Most Kentuckians won't realize it right away, but the state has a Latin new motto. They won't even know what it means at first look because, obviously, it's in Latin. Kentucky joined 22 other states that have Latin mottos, but it's not the language of the motto that makes it so notable; it's what it says. Kentucky's new motto reads: "Deo gratiam habeamus" (pronounced day-oh graht-see-ahm hah-bay-ah-moos). In English, it means: "With gratitude to God."

The bill, HB 857, was the project of a group of Lexington homeschool Latin students. They wrote the bill with help from State Rep. Tom Riner, (D-Louisville) the bill's sponsor. Several of the students came to Frankfort once a week to meet with legislators, and guided it through the process themselves, learning about state government as they went along. The bill passed with votes of 88-0 in the House and 29-0 in the Senate with several members from each chamber not voting. Signed April 11 into Law by Governor Patton.

Kentucky State Latin Motto:
"Deo gratiam habeamus"

There are four states with mottos that mention "God." Most people would probably regard them as being religious mottos:

  1. Arizona: "Ditat Deus" This means "God Enriches in Latin."
  2. Florida: "In God We Trust." - identical to the current national motto
  3. Ohio: "With God, All Things Are Possible." This is a direct biblical quotation from the King James Version of Matthew 19:25-26: "When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible."
  4. South Dakota: "Under God, The People Rule."

There are three other states with mottos that make reference to "God."

  1. Colorado: "Nothing Without Providence"
  2. Connecticut: "He Who Transplanted Still Sustains"
  3. Maine: "I Direct"

Melanchthon, Loci theologici communes, 2nd edition, 1533
CR 21:554

"Evangelium amplificat dignitatem rerum civilium, ut reverentiam alat erga Magistratus et totum ordinem politicum, et admoneat nos, ut Deo gratiam habeamus pro tantis beneficiis."

Translates to

(The Gospel increases the dignity of civil affairs as it nourishes reverence to the worldly authority and the public order; it exhorts us to give God thanks for all those institutions of public welfare)

House Bill No. 857

House Bill No. 857, "AN ACT designatied "Deo gratiam habeamus" as the Commonwealth's official Latin motto."

HB 857
AN ACT designating "Deo gratiam habeamus" as the Commonwealth's official Latin motto.
WHEREAS, the first Constitution of the Commonwealth of Kentucky was established in 1792 as the governing instrument of the state of Kentucky; and
WHEREAS, the Preamble to the current Constitution of the Commonwealth of Kentucky was established at Frankfort on the 28th day of September in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred ninety-one and in the one hundredth year of the Commonwealth; and
WHEREAS, the Preamble states, "We, the people of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, grateful to Almighty God for the civil, political and religious liberties we enjoy, and invoking the continuance of these blessings, do ordain and establish this Constitution."; and
WHEREAS, the Latin phrase "Deo gratiam habeamus," which is rendered in English "Let us be grateful to God," does correctly express the sentiment clearly stated in the Preamble to our Constitution;
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Kentucky:

The phrase "Deo gratiam habeamus" is named and designated the Commonwealth's official Latin motto.

Kentucky Law

The law designating the official Kentucky state motto is found in the Kentucky Revised Statutes, Title 1, Chapter 2, Section 2.105.


2.105 Official Latin motto.

The phrase "Deo gratiam habeamus" is named and designated the Commonwealth's official Latin motto.

Effective: July 15, 2002
History: Created 2002 Ky. Acts ch. 314, sec. 1, effective July 15, 2002.

Mottos of the States
What your Motto? US Official State Mottos