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

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

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What is the meaning of the word parabellum?

According to Merriam-Webster Unabridged English Language Dictionary, the word parabellum is part of the Latin phrase “si vis pacem, para bellum.” This Latin phrase means “if you want peace, prepare for war.”

This word is famously included in the title of the third John Wick film, John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, according to Entertainment Weekly. In this film, the titular hit man kills many people in an attempt to escape the bounty that has been put on him. The director of the franchise, Chad Stahelski, chose to use this word in order to educate the audience. In a quote from Stahelski, he states:

“John Wick uses a lot of languages and I’m a big fan of Latin. It’s just a language fetish of mine. You know, John Wick’s going to go for war with the entire world. So, if you want peace, prepare for war. That’s like a catchphrase in the movie. Parabellum is also what some military and ballistic guys use to describe a nine millimeter — parabellum. It’s a gun term.”

The director of the John Wick movies states that parabellum is a gun term, and he is correct. According to Lexico, the word parabellum is used to refer to a certain type of semiautomatic pistol or machine gun. This is the early 20th century term for a specific German make of gun.

What is the etymology of the word parabellum?

According to Etymonline, the word parabellum has been used to refer to the type of firearm since 1904 when the company Mauser & Deutsche Waffen und Munitionsfabriken began manufacturing them. The 9mm Parabellum has a specific type of handgun cartridge designed by Georg Luger. 

The Latin phrase si vis pacem, para bellum is taken from para, which is the imperative of parare, which means “to prepare.” This comes from the Proto-Indo-European root pere-, which means to produce or to procure. The word bellum is a Latin word that means war. The word bellum has been used since the early 15th century, per Etymonline. This comes from the Latin bellicosus meaning warlike or valourous from the Latin bellicus, meaning “of war.” This comes from the Old Latin duellem or dvellum which is from an uncertain origin. 

How can the word parabellum be used in a sentence?

The word parabellum can be used in a few different situations. First, it can be used to refer to the John Wick franchise. In this first example, two friends are discussing the film.

Friend 1: Hey! Did you see that new John Wick film?

Friend 2: Oh, do you mean John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum? I haven’t yet! HAve you?

Friend 1: I haven’t! Do you want to go see it together?

Friend 2: Sure!

Next, it can be used to refer to the Latin phrase si vis pacem, para bellum. In this case, the word para bellum is split into two separate words. Here, two friends discuss an argument they are having with another group of friends. 

Friend 1: I just don’t get it. I try and apologize even though I haven’t done anything wrong, and he’s still giving me the cold shoulder. It’s rude. I’m trying to be the bigger person, but maybe I should just get down and dirty like them

Friend 2: You know what they say, si vis pacem, para bellum – if you want peace, prepare for war.

Friend 1: Are you saying I should play dirty?

Friend 2: All I’m saying is peace isn’t always the answer.

Finally, the term parabellum can be used to refer to a very specific type of gun. This word is very versatile and has many different meanings, though it is fairly uncommon. The most famous lace you will usually hear the word in day to day life is in reference to the John Wick series of films. However, this doesn’t mean you should shy away from using the original Latin phrase. It’s always good to expand your vocabulary, and in turn, educate others. Go forth and parabellum!

What is John Wick?

According to Fandom, John Wick is a franchise of action movies starring Keanu Reeves. The series was created by Derek Kolstad, who has written all three of the films, and the films have been directed by Chad Stahelski. These films are filled with action sequences and suspense.

Reeves stars as the titular character John Wick who is a retired hitman forced back into the world of assassins. These films are action-packed and filled with installments of Wick fighting to overcome the world’s top hitmen. There are currently three different films in the franchise: John Wick, John Wick: Chapter 2, and John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum. The main characters of the franchise include John Wick, Sofia, Winson, Charon, The Director, Zero, The Bowery King, The Adjudicator, Tick Tock Man, and The Elder. 

Other stars of the John Wick franchise besides Keavu Reeves include Ian McShane, Willem Dafoe, Halle Berry, Anjelica Huston, and others.

Overall, the word parabellum is taken from the Latin phrase si vis pacem, para bellum, which means if you want peace, prepare for war. This word is the name of a specific type of firearm and it is also used in the title of the third film of the John Wick series,  John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum.