What do the Latin phrases and symbols on the dollar bill mean?

Whether you call it a buck, a single, a one or a bill, the linen and cotton-blend currency resting in your wallet at this very moment contains a smorgasbord of images, symbols and Latin phrases – some hidden in plain sight. What do they mean and, once deciphered, can they unlock a series of veiled messages from our forefathers?

The word dollar is derived from taler or thaler (pronounced “dollar”), a series of large, silver coins minted in Germany in the 1500’s and mined at a place called Joachimsthaler – located in what is now known as, the Czech Republic. The German tal is a cognate to the English “dale.”  In 1785, the Continental Congress adopted “dollar” to represent the United States currency primarily because the term was already highly recognizable throughout the world.

What is the origin of the $ sign? Discover the complex answer, here.

The portrait of George Washington featured on the obverse (front) was created by the American portraitist, Gilbert Stuart, and is referred to as The Athenaeum Portrait – named for the Boston Athenaeum that would later purchase the painting. Interestingly, the portrait was begun in 1796 but was never finished. The unfinished rendering of Washington has adorned the bill since 1869.

Look closely at the large number “1” located in the upper right hand corner of the bill; presumably hidden in the leaf, and what looks like a spider web design, is an owl or maybe a spider. Some believe the Freemasons are responsible for the hidden image of the owl, a known Mason symbol for ‘knowledge.’ Or perhaps the phenomenon of pareidolia – an imagined perception of meaning where it does not actually exist – is at play here.

From the number of arrows in the right claw of the eagle to the layers of granite stone in the pyramid, the number thirteen is referenced repeatedly on the reverse side of the bill; probably a reference to the original thirteen colonies, or as some conspiracy theorists would have you believe, a direct reference to the thirteen Illuminati bloodlines. Reference to the illuminati can also be found in the depiction of the “Eye Of Providence,” also referred to as the “All-seeing Eye” displayed atop the pyramid. The eye first appeared as part of the standard iconography of the Freemasons with the publication of Thomas Smith Webb’s “Freemason Monitor” in 1797.

(What does Illuminati actually mean? Find out here)

There are two mottos scribed in Latin on the reverse of the dollar bill that have been directly linked to the works of the Roman poet Virgil. The first phrase is located just above the eye and reads, Annuit Coeptis. Derived from the Latin annuo, meaning “to nod” or “to approve” and coeptum, “undertakings,” the phrase literally translates as “He approves of the undertakings.” And the phrase Novus ordo seclorum, located just below the pyramid, literally translates as “New world order.”

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  1. jack -  February 10, 2015 - 8:55 pm

    Bunch of morons here with conspiracy theories. The eye is not illuminati it is Providence.
    Don’t inform the atheist or they will condemn and take the government to court to remove all those religious words.

  2. Angelica -  July 12, 2013 - 5:53 pm

    its funny reading all the comments in 2013

    • jack -  February 10, 2015 - 9:25 pm

      He who roams the city will find the key to the passage to the Illuminati. Many will search few will find the passage.

  3. Steveb -  October 28, 2012 - 12:13 pm

    I love how everyone thinks WE are the generation the “New World Order” will descend on. Seems a bit arrogant. Further, is there a serious debate to be had about something written 200 years ago? Do you really think the founding fathers were, a) that nefarious? or b) that occultist? They were the “job creators” of their day. I think they had weightier issues (Britain, for one) than this silliness. Blather all you like about “it’s coming” “buy more ammo” “the horizon is peeking”, but the reality is you will most likely die of old age, under government assisted care, in your sleep. And feel free to take your paranoia with you.

    • some random user -  May 26, 2014 - 11:11 am

      Novus ordo seclorum actually means “new order to the ages” or “the beginning of the new age.” With the other phrase it can possibly mean “God approves the beginning of the United States” as in the bottom of the pyramid it says MDCCLXXVI or 1776 when the U.S. began. Correct me if I’m wrong, though.

  4. Kari -  March 28, 2012 - 1:53 pm

    I get a huge kick reading this stuff. I am a secretary for a Scottish Rite valley and “know the secrets” those guys wouldn’t know how to keep secret files if it killed them – and the translation for New World Order is mistranslated – it means From Chaos to Order – you know the thing our Constitution was founded on after the Revolutionary war (keep in mind the United States was definetly in a state of chaos – you are goofy

  5. Knowing -  December 7, 2011 - 10:57 pm

    go to 7december.org theres a countdown thats been going since 1998, and it just finished today. im still working it out, an in light of recent events, im scared for my life

  6. Rico KG -  October 14, 2011 - 7:14 am

    *That’s mad kool I like learning new things about money and other stuff*

  7. Oldone -  July 8, 2011 - 12:40 pm

    A “New Age” many generations have called themselves the New Age. From the first colonizers (of the US) to the 1960s, which was REALLY a New Age!!! Ha Ha
    The eagle is way up there and sees the entire picture, instead of ANALyzing the way all you guys are. You’re viewing the symbols with a zoom lens in your minds, instead of realizing the Big Picture.

    Actually, I haven’t a clue what any of it means!!!

  8. dria long soldier -  May 2, 2011 - 9:56 am

    wow.. i wonder if this dictionry thing has any awnsers on love?????
    like if a boy says that you are very pretty?? then what do i say??? hmmmm?? lol jkjk.. but, awesome info….. lol :)

  9. Mr. D [A.K.A] Elysian -  April 29, 2011 - 11:08 am

    @ontoursecretly hahaha that comment will get me through the rest of the workday.

  10. ontoursecretly -  April 23, 2011 - 4:27 am

    @ Mr. D [A.K.A] Elysian

    That’s because most people actually don’t know what a semicolon is. (It has something to do with intestines, right?)

    @ Stone

    Gold? There IS no gold. That is, gold that wasn’t buried in 1861 and guarded by the ghosts of Confederate rebels, and is thus inaccessible.

  11. Lastleaf -  April 22, 2011 - 10:26 pm

    @ Tremier
    You are so lucky to be apart of such a great organization. I envy you..

  12. Lando -  April 22, 2011 - 8:47 am

    Dictionary, that is. They got to me, too.

  13. Lando -  April 22, 2011 - 8:47 am

    I’m so disappointed. This should have easily drawn a hundred more hilariously entertaining comments. The eye is seeing you! They have your DNA! Kanye! Come on, people. How can we know about the conspiracies just behind the scenes if nobody is frantically posting comments about them on a dictionry blog site?

  14. smoothius -  April 18, 2011 - 6:39 am

    i am the great and powerful oz…………..

  15. monsters -  April 16, 2011 - 7:48 am

    wow guys. youre really going to assume all this? the illuminati are coming tooo get yooouuuuu ouuuuuuuuu. it sounds like a ghost story and maybe your minds are able to grasp the fact that it said conspiracy theorists. conspiracy being the prime, first, and clearly obvious word in the phrase that was used. im not saying the illuminati aren’t real. i read angels and demons, i get it, but i really dont think you need to prepare yourself for a war with them. hello? common sense anyone? sheesh.

  16. ankit -  April 16, 2011 - 5:19 am

    i very much like this fact n i like reading bout secret societies but i get least to it.

  17. Sam -  April 16, 2011 - 5:06 am

    The OWL is the symbol of knowledge of the ancient Greeks. The bird was depicted on many statues along with Athena (Minerva) the Goddess of wisdom, protector of Athens to whom the Parthenon was dedicated. Since western culture originated in Greece and Greek myths were incorporated into the whole of western culture that is most probably the reason that there is an owl on the dollar bill not because of the Freemasons. These stories about the Freemasons sound like conspiracy theories to me.

    • Greg Dabor -  January 6, 2015 - 12:49 pm

      Athena. Wisdom. Finally someone gets it! Very exciting. Everything to do with money, and the American or British Empire is related to Athena! Her Owl coin was the most popular coin in history. Nothing evil about the creation of money. The eagle comes from Prometheus who was chained to a rock and had his liver pecked out every day because he gave fire to mankind! Mankind was punished with Pandora. Just like Eve in the Bible. The pyramid represents and honors the Egyptians. The eye? An eye for an eye? Tooth for a tooth? The ancient code of Babylon. Greatest city in the world.

  18. Mitch Connor -  April 15, 2011 - 11:38 pm

    “@tparker i know, right? how’s matt!”

    I would like to know this as well!


    What inspired you to beat up Rihanna?

  19. Ms. Kanu -  April 15, 2011 - 9:48 pm

    @Vanessa totally agree we shall do research !! It’s there on the internet!!!

  20. Ms. Kanu -  April 15, 2011 - 9:46 pm

    Listen to that song from Rihanna and Kanye West- “Turn on the Lights” I want y’all to see this…. It’s like their trying to tell us something. And how are they going to make a New World Order ? Khadafi (dictator) got his army killing his own people… What’s really going on? America is brain dead ! We need to wake up !

    • Becki -  October 25, 2014 - 9:53 pm

      You are absolutely right. If one is to look up in the dictionary EAGLE they
      would find that it is the seal of the U.S. and the Military seal of the Ancient Roman Empire.. We are in serious trouble if the people don’t wake up and see the truth.. Goats have taken over our Churches and have set the people in a position of not seeing that they are going to be blindsided.

  21. Vanessa -  April 15, 2011 - 7:00 pm

    Hmm, never would have thought this would be on dictionary.com.
    I know people can call this crazy conspiracy theories, and basically..rubbish, but this is all too real. Yes, other than some truths out there there are also misleading lies.
    My grandfather has done some crazy things all for this great New World Order. I could never understand nor care for these politics as a child till I was a bit older. Then, I started researching which led me to even more confusion. I learned that the original NWO was to enlighten human beings and great advancement. But all that’s going on today leads me to believe the ego, money, & power has gotten in the way of the original plan.
    Then again, you don’t have to listen to some stranger on the net, just do your own research.

  22. Christian -  April 15, 2011 - 6:23 pm

    “Novus Ordo Seclorum” means new SECULAR order.

  23. Francis -  April 15, 2011 - 5:32 pm

    @Hamlet, i agree with you

  24. Francis -  April 15, 2011 - 5:28 pm

    Illuminati and Freemasons. Wow

  25. Francis -  April 15, 2011 - 5:25 pm


  26. Oh so Pogi -  April 15, 2011 - 5:17 pm

    wow, that was truly fantastic. but don’t think that just because of 2012 and some bunch of hoo-haas.

    remember, God told us nobody can know when will the end be, what makes you think the Mayans known? :)

    btw, @Tremier and all other people who agrees with him, are you talking about zombies taking over the world or just the stock exchange? :)

  27. Stone -  April 15, 2011 - 4:24 pm

    If you find it hard to believe that there has been a plan to completely control the economies of the world, just dig a little deeper with an investigative mind. You will discover gold, and be ready when they pull the plug again. Depressions are planned; they give whole economies to those who manipulate . You are about to be rudely awakened.

  28. mark V -  April 15, 2011 - 3:52 pm

    I’d heard Annuit Coeptis was more along the lines of “Gods Chosen Actions” Which sort of lines up with “he approves of the undertakings”

    There is a large ammount of wiggleroom in translation, though.

  29. Arcanis -  April 15, 2011 - 2:16 pm


    maybe, but how are we supposed to eat that many hot dogs

  30. Cyberquill -  April 15, 2011 - 2:14 pm

    I don’t care what everything means. All I know is that all this useless minutiae makes forging dollars an incredible pain in the neck.

  31. AHAHA -  April 15, 2011 - 2:11 pm

    I love all of these insane conspiracy theorists. Provide me with hours of entertainment, you really do.

    Get some help.

  32. vortex -  April 15, 2011 - 1:54 pm

    I think the owl is cool.

  33. Illuminati is gay -  April 15, 2011 - 1:26 pm

    wow. and dr, j, you think that is supposed to make it better?…. hmmm. New order of the ages….what new order? and of the ages?? why would they make a new order…especially of the ages?….and the great series….of revolving ages…..begins anew. sounds suspicious. either way its bad! and we must watch out! there real. but people dont wanna belive cause its too surreal!

  34. mangcha -  April 15, 2011 - 12:45 pm

    yap……! its funny

  35. fd -  April 15, 2011 - 11:57 am

    amir :) :(

  36. fd -  April 15, 2011 - 11:57 am

    i am cool

  37. Watching -  April 15, 2011 - 11:43 am

    proponents of the NWO are in the editing department!

  38. Dr. J -  April 15, 2011 - 11:31 am

    I agree with Lando, “Novus ordo seclorum” translates as ‘New Order of the Ages,’ and not ‘New World Order,’ cf. Virgil’s 4th Eclogue, line 5, Magnus ab integro seclorum nascitur ordo ‘The great Series of revolving Ages begins anew.’

  39. lahtida -  April 15, 2011 - 11:02 am

    I think so boogie but what are we going to do with fifteen thousand blue ducks!

  40. chris brown -  April 15, 2011 - 10:57 am

    what inspired u to write hatchet

  41. Danish K -  April 15, 2011 - 10:51 am

    Hey that was really awesome. Thanks for giving such a wonderful information about the currency. Now, I would be able to get more familiar with the dollar. :)

  42. Persona -  April 15, 2011 - 10:00 am

    “In one many” Learn it in Latin! gahahaha! didn’t even look at the thing yet

  43. Lando -  April 15, 2011 - 9:35 am

    Oh man, I love this. It’s going to be the “Illuminati” comments all over again.

    And “Novus ordo seclorum” literally translates to “New order of the ages,” not the “New World Order” it’s so often (paranoidly) thought to mean.

  44. hksche2000 -  April 15, 2011 - 9:28 am

    4. “taler or thaler (pronounced “dollar”)” should be: T(h)aler is pronounced “taallur” similar to (Microsoft CEO, Steve) Ballmer.

    (The “taallur” was lost in printing, probably because it was placed in brackets)

  45. Deepfriedboy -  April 15, 2011 - 9:21 am

    ummm…I’m thinking Arby’s!

  46. Hamlet -  April 15, 2011 - 9:11 am

    The History Channel is all 2012, Nostradamus, UFOs and Bigfoot now. The Weekly World News – or for that matter, anyone chosen randomly off the street – is a more reliable source of knowledge.

  47. Skyler -  April 15, 2011 - 8:57 am

    Is it just me or does this not sound like a stupid joke someone made up to distract the public from real mysteries and real problems?

  48. Latin Lover -  April 15, 2011 - 8:51 am

    “Novus ordo seclorum” translates to “new order for the ages.” “New World Order” just feeds the conspiracy theorists more.

  49. James -  April 15, 2011 - 8:50 am

    Now, try folding the money into airplanes.

  50. Free & Amazin -  April 15, 2011 - 8:39 am

    Ready or not here we come & there we will go. Dont worry, the pain will not last. This shall pass too.

    PS. My father told me “Have no fear!”

  51. juggs -  April 15, 2011 - 8:38 am

    @Boogie….I am….but this time you wear the chicken suit.

  52. Code-a-phile -  April 15, 2011 - 8:14 am

    I thought Tremier was just talking about the timing of a blog about money on the eve of Tax Day. Now I’m worried about deeper, darker conspiracies. Sheesh.

  53. Kate -  April 15, 2011 - 8:09 am

    “I think so, Brain, but this time you put the trousers on the chimp.”

  54. Pinky -  April 15, 2011 - 7:46 am

    I think so, Boogie, but where are we going to find rubber pants our size?

  55. foxFrosty -  April 15, 2011 - 7:31 am

    the sunshine is peaking it’s horizon. the pavement to zion.

  56. Boogie -  April 15, 2011 - 7:25 am

    yeah, tell us! what does that mean tremier?
    Are you pondering what I am pondering!?

  57. sad -  April 15, 2011 - 7:12 am

    @ Tremier What are you taking about ?? lol

  58. Eline -  April 15, 2011 - 7:11 am

    ^ Yes, please enlighten us.

  59. Rickedy Rick -  April 15, 2011 - 6:48 am

    Tremier is right… Stock up on ammo.

  60. Wait for it.............MOO goes the chicken! -  April 15, 2011 - 6:15 am

    Wow this blog was kinda stupid if you ask me.

  61. bryan -  April 15, 2011 - 6:12 am

    dude i thought anuit coeptis meant our enterprise is a success.
    the history channel has failed me!!!!

  62. Kenrick -  April 15, 2011 - 5:53 am

    I think he means that he is ready for the new “change” that is supposed to take place in 2012. I’m guessing it is the takeover the Illuminati?

  63. Andrew -  April 15, 2011 - 5:21 am

    The dollar bill is going bye-bye, Parker.

  64. Brian -  April 15, 2011 - 3:34 am

    @tparker. Not old enough to pay taxes yet I presume.

  65. lilychero -  April 15, 2011 - 2:49 am

    @ i dont get it either Tremier ..

  66. Zachary Overline -  April 14, 2011 - 11:38 pm

    What an ominous entry. I’m kinda creeped out now.

  67. tparker -  April 14, 2011 - 10:45 pm

    @ tremier what does that mean? i don’t get it.

  68. DAL -  April 14, 2011 - 10:43 pm


  69. Makoto -  April 14, 2011 - 10:34 pm

    Awesome info, thanks!

  70. Tremier -  April 14, 2011 - 10:07 pm

    you guys did this with perfect timing. you know whats about to happen just as i do as well as my many comrades. we’re ready. we’re ready. we’re ready.


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