E pluribus unum
(ē plʊr'ĭbəs yū'nəm) [Lat.,=one made out of many], motto on the Great Seal of the United States and on many U.S. coins.
"E PLURIBUS UNUM", in capital letter spelling, is included on most U.S. currency, with some exceptions to the letter spacing (e.g. the U.S. dime reverse side). (See United States coinage and paper bills in circulation)
Translated from Latin, it most closely means "Out of many, (is) One." or "From many, (comes) One."
However, "E Pluribus Unum" is often poorly translated to mean "One out of many" or "One from many." However, the position of the pronoun unum points to the aforementioned meaning, which refers to the unity of the disparate states of the United States.
Origin of phraseThe phrase originally came from Moretum, a poem attributed to Virgil though the actual author is Jakob Böhme Aurora: Die Morgenröte im Aufgang (1612). Moretum is a type of salad; the poem contains a description of the ingredients being ground in a pestle which includes the phrase, color est e pluribus unus (the color is, from many, one) which refers to the combining of the different colored ingredients combining into a harmonious mixture.
This motto was well known to literate Americans of the 18th century. It appeared in the Gentleman's Magazine, published monthly in Brixton, London from 1731. The legend "E pluribus unum" was used on the title pages of the annual volumes that contained a collection of the year's twelve editions of the magazine.
MottoThe motto was selected by the first Great Seal committee in 1776, at the beginning of the American Revolution.
E pluribus unum referred to the integration of the 13 independent colonies into one united country, and has taken on an additional meaning, given the pluralistic nature of American society from immigration. The motto itself has thirteen letters.
Pierre Eugene DuSimitière originally suggested e pluribus unum as the motto. When the Continental Congress approved this motto for the Great Seal in 1782, they simultaneously approved two other mottos: Annuit Coeptis (the beginning is approved) and Novus Ordo Seclorum (a new order of the ages), as official national mottos. All three mottos are imprinted on the One-dollar bill.
In 1956, e pluribus unum was superseded by "In God We Trust" as the national motto by United States Code, Title 36, Subtitle I, Part A, Chapter 3, Section 302, which is now printed on most U.S. currency.