Edinburgh's motto

Mrs Glen of Penicuik asks: When at school in Stockbridge many years ago we were told NISA DOMINUS FRUSTRA was Edinburgh's motto. Did it mean In God We Trust?

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Emma Gillon replies: Nisi means "unless, if not or without", Dominus means "lord" or "master" and frustra means "in vain" or "useless."

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It can be variuosly translated as:

Without the Lord, everything is in vain

Except the Lord in Vain

He that acts without the Lord Acts in vain

if not the master, in vain

Without God, we labor in vain

Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it

It is a heraldic contraction of a verse from the 127th Psalm:-

'Except the Lord build the house

They labour in vain that build it:

Except the Lord keep the city

The watchman waketh but in vain.'

It has been the motto of Edinburgh since 1647. It is also one of the mottoes of the King's Own scottish Borderers regiment.

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