Semper fidelis

Photo of author


The expression semper fidelis is a Latin phrase that has a special meaning in the United States. We will examine the definition of the phrase semper fidelis, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

Semper fidelis translates as always faithful. It is the motto of the United States Marine Corps, and illustrates that Marines are loyal to their country to each other. The phrase semper fidelis is often abbreviated by Marines as semper fi, those this is not a true phrase in Latin. Marine Corps history dates back to the Revolutionary War, when the Continental Congress met at Tun Tavern and called for the formation of two battalions of marines in order to combat the British at sea and on land. Since that time, the Marines have served in every war that the United States has been involved in, including the War of 1812, The Spanish American War, World War I and World War II, the Gulf War and Afghanistan. Semper fidelis did not become the Marine Corps motto until 1883, when Colonel Charles McCawley the Commandant of the Marine Corps, pushed for the recognition. The official march of the USMC or United States Marine Corps is named Semper Fidelis. It was composed in 1888 by John Philip Sousa and soon after adopted as the official march played by the Marine Band in ceremonies. . Today, the Marine Corps Museum, located near Quantico, Virgina, is dedicated to preserving the heritage of the brotherhood of the Marine Corps, their patriotic dedication to liberty, their faithful sacrifice and their willingness to defend their country on the battlefield.

Semper fidelis is a popular slogan for other military groups, as well as schools and towns. For instance, the French town of Abbeville adopted the phrase as its motto in the mid-1300s. The town of Exeter adopted semper fidelis as their town motto in the 1600s. The first known use of the motto by a military unit was by the Regiment of Foot, a unit which was formed in 1685 and is known as the Bloody Eleventh. The motto semper fidelis is also fairly popular among Roman Catholic secondary schools. Semper fidelis is a loan phrase from Latin. Loan phrases are terms that have been taken from other languages and used as English phrases. Another term for a loan phrase is a borrowed phrase. A foreign phrase evolves into a loan phrase when it is adopted into the vocabulary of the average English speaker, not just English speakers who come into contact with the source language and culture.


When the 59-year-old Polish Pope John Paul II came to semper fidelis, “always faithful,” Ireland in late September 1979, the island was experiencing violent clashes linked to the Catholic/Protestant divide. (Crux)

Regardless of where a member of a team goes, the message Semper Fidelis is always part of the team’s heart. (The Camp Lejeune Globe)

Semper fidelis, or its more common shortened version, semper fi, means always faithful and it is a motto adopted by the Marine Corps in the late nineteenth century as a symbol of the Corps’ devotion to country. (The Huffington Post)

Many Marines have taken to Twitter to share their experiences in the military and to wish the Marine Corps a happy birthday, with many using the hashtag ‘Semper Fidelis,’ a Marine motto meaning “always faithful.” (Time Magazine)