The Meaning of Invictus: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of invictus? This guide will provide you with all of the knowledge you need on the word invictus, including its definition, etymology, usage, synonyms, example sentences, and more!

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What does the word invictus mean?

According to Definitions and UNC, invictus is a Latin word that means unconquerable or undefeated. This is often a reference to a short Victorian poem by the English author William Ernest Henley which was first published in his late nineteenth century 1875 Book of Verses, in which it was number four in several poems called Life and Death. The poem originally had no title, and early printings of the poem contained only the dedication To R. T. H. B., which is a reference to Robert Thomas Hamilton Bruce, who is a successful Scottish flour merchant and baker who was also a literary patron. The title “Invictus” was later added by editor Arthur Quiller-Couch when the poem was included in The Oxford Book of English Verse. Nelson Mandela, the president of South Africa, is known for reciting this popular poem while he was imprisoned for a 27-year prison term. The fourth stanza and last stanza of the poem alludes to a phrase from the King James Bible and there are many religious themes echoed through allusion and metaphor in the first stanza, second stanza, and third stanza. The rhyme scheme and meter are known as iambic tetrameter, and the poem is a quatrain. 

 Invictus by English poet William Ernest Henley

 Out of the night that covers me,

 Black as the pit from pole to pole,

 I thank whatever gods may be

 For my unconquerable soul.

 In the fell clutch of circumstance

 I have not winced nor cried aloud.

 Under the bludgeonings of chance

 My head is bloody, but unbowed.

 Beyond this place of wrath and tears

 Looms but the Horror of the shade,

 And yet the menace of the years

 Finds and shall find me unafraid.

 It matters not how strait the gate,

 How charged with punishments the scroll,

 I am the master of my fate,

 I am the captain of my soul.

Invictus is also a 2009 film starring Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon. Characters include Nelson Mandela and Francois Pienaar.  Henley wrote the following poems and more per My Poetic Side:

  • Friends…. old Friends……
  • England, My England
  • Fill a Glass
  • Double Ballade on the Nothingness of Things
  • Ballade of Dead Actors
  • Croquis
  • A Thanksgiving
  • Crosses and Troubles….
  • I am the Reaper
  • Bring Her Again
  • A Love by the Sea
  • Between the Dusk of a Summer Night
  • Double Ballad of Life and Death (Fragment)
  • Beside the Idle Summer Sea
  • A Wink from Hesper
  • I gave my Heart …….

Words meaning invictus are also used in many other languages. You may notice that some of these words and phrases look and sound similar to one another. These are called cognates which are often formed when two words in different languages have the same root or language of origin. This list of translations of invictus is provided by Word Sense.

  •  Finnish: voittamaton‎
  •  Sorani: نه‌به‌ز‎
  •  Portuguese: invencível‎
  •  Turkish: yenilmez‎
  •  French: invincible‎
  •  Ancient Greek: ἀδάμας‎
  •  Greek: αήττητος‎
  •  Spanish: invencible‎ (masc.) (f)
  •  Norwegian: uovervinnelig‎
  •  Italian: invincibile (masc.)/(fem.), imbattibile (masc.)/(fem.)
  •  Swedish: oövervinnerlig‎
  •  German: unbesiegbar‎
  •  Esperanto: nevenkebla‎
  •  Czech: neporazitelný‎ (masc.)
  •  Russian: непобеди́мый‎
  •  Polish: niezwyciężony‎ (masc.), niezwyciężona‎ (fem.)
  •  Japanese: 倒せない‎ (taosenai), 無敵‎, 不敗‎, 難攻不落‎
  •  Dutch: onoverwinnelijk‎, onoverwinnelijke‎
  •  Catalan: invencible‎

What are synonyms and antonyms of the word invictus?

There are many different equivalent words that a person can use in place of the word invictus. These are called synonyms, which are words and phrases that have the same meaning as another word or phrase. One might choose to use a synonym because they want to avoid repeating themselves, or because they would like to work  on expanding their vocabulary. This list of synonyms for the word invictus is provided by Power Thesaurus

  •  uncontrollable
  •  contumacious
  •  unsurmountable
  •  overpowering
  •  firm
  •  obstinate
  •  determined
  •  impregnable
  •  overwhelming
  •  staunch
  •  defiant
  •  undefeated
  •  unkillable
  •  contrary
  •  untouchable
  •  unintermitting
  •  inviolable
  •  unvanquishable
  •  indomitable
  •  unyielding
  •  steadfast
  •  impossible
  •  resistant
  •  unswerving
  •  all-victorious
  •  resolute
  •  irrepressible
  •  unwearied
  •  impenetrable
  •  insuperable
  •  single-minded
  •  inflexible
  •  indestructible
  •  bulletproof
  •  adamant
  •  undaunted
  •  undefeatable
  •  omnipotent
  •  secure
  •  unattackable
  •  unbeaten
  •  inexpugnable
  •  anal-retentive
  •  unmanageable
  •  hopeless
  •  impassable
  •  inextinguishable
  •  cantankerous
  •  constant
  •  brave
  •  courageous
  •  tireless
  •  indefatigable
  •  continuing
  •  never-say-die
  •  unshakable
  •  untiring
  •  resistless
  •  resolved
  •  potent
  •  insurmountable
  •  sturdy
  •  unflagging
  •  supreme
  •  inexorable
  •  powerful
  •  irresistible
  •  strong
  •  stubborn
  •  relentless
  •  unwavering
  •  ungovernable
  •  as stubborn as a mule
  •  incontestable
  •  surmountable
  •  almighty
  •  unconquered
  •  pertinacious
  •  unbeatable
  •  confirmed
  •  unassailable
  •  impervious
  •  dominating
  •  intractable
  •  dogged
  •  proof against
  •  assiduous
  •  tenacious
  •  invulnerable
  •  dauntless
  •  unsubduable
  •  invincible
  •  persistent
  •  cussed
  •  unflinching
  •  unstoppable
  •  as safe as houses
  •  safe
  •  all-conquering
  •  all-powerful

There are also a great many words that mean the opposite of the word invictus. These are called antonyms. English language antonyms are also very useful grammatical devices to know. This list of antonyms for the word invictus is also provided by Power Thesaurus

  •  rickety
  •  sensitive
  •  pliable
  •  decrepit
  •  open to the weather
  •  mild
  •  suggestible
  •  powerless
  •  in line of fire
  •  guideless
  •  ungarrisoned
  •  open
  •  deficient
  •  thready
  •  weak
  •  idle
  •  liable
  •  docile
  •  feckless
  •  delicate
  •  extinguishable
  •  negotiable
  •  traversable
  •  tender
  •  open to the elements
  •  down for the count
  •  slender
  •  flaccid
  •  expugnable
  •  exposed
  •  frail
  •  beatable
  •  teachable
  •  undurable
  •  hands tied
  •  superable
  •  susceptible
  •  fond
  •  infirm
  •  sickly
  •  nerveless
  •  amenable
  •  dependent
  •  caught lacking
  •  shaky
  •  surmountable
  •  helpless
  •  defenseless
  •  remiss
  •  unresistant
  •  affectionate
  •  tenuous
  •  spiritless
  •  attackable
  •  puny
  •  tractable
  •  dutiful
  •  undecided
  •  complaisant
  •  impotent
  •  flabby
  •  undefended
  •  lackadaisical
  •  emaciated
  •  unprotected
  •  irresolute
  •  languid
  •  feeble
  •  vincible
  •  submissive
  •  obedient
  •  unguarded
  •  most defenceless
  •  unaided
  •  indolent
  •  insecure
  •  unsafe
  •  compliant
  •  vulnerable
  •  incident to
  •  aidless
  •  like a clay pigeon
  •  pliant
  •  subjugable
  •  vanquishable
  •  unable to help
  •  fragile
  •  navigable
  •  imperiled
  •  groggy
  •  ineffectual
  •  crossable
  •  conquerable
  •  lax
  •  meagre
  •  subduable
  •  spineless
  •  rotten
  •  inactive
  •  gaunt

Overall, the word invictus means unconquerable or invincible. This Latin word is a reference to a poem.  It was written in 1875 and published in 1888 in William Ernest Heley’s first volume of poems. When Henley was 16 years old, his left leg required amputation due to complications arising from tuberculosis.


  2. What does invictus mean? | Definitions 
  3. Unconquerable Synonyms | Power Thesaurus
  4. William Ernest Henley Poems | My Poetic Side 
  5. invincible: meaning, origin, translation | Word Sense 
  6. Unconquerable antonyms – 107 Opposites of Unconquerable | Power Thesaurus