E Pluribus Unum Meaning: Here’s What It Means and How To Use It

E Pluribus Unum is one of the most important phrases in modern politics — this is what it means, and its humorous origin story!

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E Pluribus Unum is seen by many people as the motto of the United States of America. It’s a great phrase, and it looks really cool, but at the same time, it’s written in Latin. And the number of people that can read and understand Latin in the modern world is incredibly low — it’s technically a dead language, after all. 

So why is this Latin phrase one of the nation’s mottos that makes it onto almost every official government building and item? Even if it might not be incredibly apparent at first, the reality is that this great seal of the United States is one of the most perfect representations of the morals and ideas that the country was founded on. 

If you’ve ever wanted to know what this phrase means as a party trick, for academic purposes, or just because you’re curious, then feel free to read on. This is what E Pluribus Unum means, where it comes from, and why it’s so essential in the modern United States of America. 

What Does E Pluribus Unum Mean? 

E Pluribus Unum is a Latin phrase that translates to “out of many, one.” It is seen as the first and most excellent motto of the United States of America, approved by the United States Congress in 1782. 

The eagle is holding a scroll with E Pluribus Unum on its beak. It can be found on the Great Seal of America, where it appears on the emblem along with shields with stripes and stars, an olive branch, arrows, and an Eagle. These elements are symbolic of more important things on the seal, and all stand for incredible truths and concepts that the country itself was founded on. 

Another Latin phrase in the American Heritage is annuit cœptis, which means “he approves the undertakings,” or “things undertaken,” along with Novus ordo seclorum, which means “New Order of the Ages.”

These two phrases come from E Pluribus Unum to be the foundation of many American morals, but E Pluribus Unum is by far the most common and popular Latin motto. 

Where Does the Phrase E Pluribus Unum Come From? 

At the beginning of the United States, the collection of states was happening, the immigrants and colonists in America were trying to find out what they stood for. In the First Continental Congress, hosting people like John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson, they acknowledged that America was a melting pot.

It included people of all different backgrounds fleeing from tyrants in England, Germany, France, Ireland, Scotland, and Holland, all seeking a place where they could live their lives in peace. They sought to create a new nation. 

After the act of Congress to declare independence from England, the rebellion in the Revolutionary War took place. America unilaterally rejected being represented by people in London and dismissed obedience to people they felt weren’t representing them well. 

After winning the Revolutionary War, America needed to develop a government system and identity that allowed them to declare to the world what they actually stood for.

Because of that, many different committees met together to design the United States emblem. The first committee is the one that decided to use the phrase E Pluribus Unum, and the Third Committee laid the foundation of what it would look like for centuries to come. 

Why Is E Pluribus Unum So Important?

E Pluribus Unum was a significant phrase because, in many ways, it stands for the diversity and unity that the founders of the United States were decreeing was constitutional. Even if that kind of diversity and inclusivity wasn’t met until centuries later, it laid the groundwork for many people to understand what America stood for. 

One standard reference for the meaning behind E Pluribus Unum comes from the children of Israel and how they followed a pillar of fire through the wilderness after receiving freedom from the Egyptian pharaoh.

That was actually the initial design for the emblem. Even if it didn’t make it to the final design, that image of Moses leading a nation united by friendship over blood was still a prevailing thought and concept. 

Where Is E Pluribus Unum Seen Today? 

In the modern world, E Pluribus Unum shows up on many different pieces of United States coinage, including both silver coins and gold coins. If you look at any newly minted dimes or pennies, you will see the phrase on the coin in one way or another.

These are some of the most common ways that we can see E Pluribus Unum in use today, and the fact that it has its place in people’s money is fundamental. 

E Pluribus Unum is also seen in many aspects of the United States government. Apart from its prominent appearance on coins, it is seen in the US Senate Chamber, the state flags of multiple states, the flags and seals of the Senate and House of Representatives, and many other places.

It is one of the most prevalent mottos and phrases in the United States today and has a lot of impact on the overall social and governmental concepts in the government today. 

Even if it just seems like something you might find in a poem, it’s actually a compelling and genuine part of American heritage and country pride. 


If you’ve ever seen a phrase or word and not known what it means, feel free to take some time and look around our blog here at The Word Counter! We have countless articles available to help clear up grammar questions, vocabulary mishaps, and questions you might have about the English language in general. It’s not always easy to remember the hundreds of thousands of words that people use regularly, so having a good resource can be really helpful. 

If you ever have questions on communicating at a higher level and genuinely engaging with people in a new way, feel free to check out our website! We’re here to help you become the best version of yourself possible!


  1. E pluribus unum Definition & Meaning | Dictionary.com
  2. E pluribus unum definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary
  3. Continental Congress, 1774–1781 | US Office of the Historian, Foreign Service Institute