By Buddy Blouin
Whether or not you're a part of the military community, chances are good that you’ve seen the phrase Semper Fidelis or Semper Fi somewhere. Maybe it was a commercial or a shirt or a bumper sticker, but no matter what, the motto of the U.S. Marine Corps is a well-known one throughout the United States. However, have you ever understood what Semper Fidelis means? Discover the meaning, history, and importance of a phrase used by many around the world, but never quite like the Devil Dogs themselves.

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What Does Semper Fidelis Mean?

Semper Fidelis is a Latin phrase that means “always loyal.” The Semper Fidelis meaning has rung true in the hearts of many different organizations and individuals throughout time. Various families, schools, and military organizations use the phrase as their motto. But while the meaning of Semper Fidelis may remain the same through semantics and through translation, if actions speak louder than words, it means that much more to the many, or rather few, who call themselves U.S. Marines. For those on the battlefield, you soon realize that, while you may be fighting to keep people safe from harm or for honor or whichever reason you dedicate your life to the military, you’re also fighting for those around you. The USMC takes this seriously and carries the sentiment with them through their motto. For the Marine Corps, Semper Fidelis isn’t simply something you say but rather a lifestyle of being there for your fellow Marines serving and those back home. To the USMC, the motto is much more than a greeting or a chant; it’s a commitment to be there for your fellow human no matter what conditions may come your way. Additionally, the Semper Fidelis March serves as the official march of the Marine Corps.

How To Pronounce Semper Fidelis

If you’re looking to learn the correct way to pronounce the Marine Corps motto, skip reading the phonetic spelling and have a listen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sPHGfJ_Suxc

Where Did Semper Fidelis Originate?

The Marine Corps motto Semper Fidelis can be traced back to 1883. This came after a period of time in which Marines had multiple mottos, but Semper Fi was the one that ultimately stuck and created a uniformed message across the military branch. Col. Charles McCawley, the 8th Commandant of the USMC, is credited with officially adopting the motto for the branch, but the origins of the phrase go far beyond its use by the branch itself. Finding the exact origin, like many older traditions, can be tricky. There are some who believe the phrase was used in Rome long ago, but you’ll have to go to a town in France to find the earliest known adoption of the phrase as a motto back in the 14th century. Considering the Romans conquered other lands many times throughout the nation’s history with a conquest leading to a 500+ year reign of what is now known as France, it’s one of those "six of one, half a dozen of the other" type of situations. What’s important, however, is that when you hear, read, or say Semper Fidelis today, you can be sure that its meaning is rooted in resilience to always be there serving Americans and making the world a much better place.

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The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement. | Photo by Lance Cpl. Ricardo Hurtado | I Marine Expeditionary Force



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