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The phrase 'dei gratia' is a Latin phrase that means By the grace of God. In the word-by-word translation, the noun 'dei' means 'God'. The noun 'gratia' means 'grace'.

The phrase 'honi soit qui' is a French phrase that usually is translated into English as Shame upon him who.... In the word-by-word translation, the adjective 'honi' means 'ashamed, shamed'. The verb 'soit' means '[he/she/it] may be'. The relative pronoun 'qui' means 'who'.

The complete phrase, 'Honi soit qui mal y pense', is the motto of The Most Noble Order of the Garter. The complete sentence translates as 'Shame upon him who thinks evil upon it'. The order usually is considered to have been established in 1348, the year in which the King's Wardrobe first was recorded as issuing Garter habits.

The Order's founder is King Edward III [November 13, 1312-June 21, 1377]. Different explanations are offered as to the reason for the Order's founding, motto and symbols. But one persistent story involves the King and his future daughter-in-law, Joan [September 29, 1327-August 7, 1385] the Fair Maid and Countess of Kent; or Joan's former mother-in-law, Catherine Montacute [c. 1304-November 23, 1349], Countess of Salisbury. One of the two women loses her garter while dancing with the King. The King picks up the garter. Courtiers start rumors about the King, the garter, and the dancer. So the King puts the garter on his leg instead of giving it back to its rightful owner. He stares down and silences the gossiping courtiers with the pronouncement, 'Honi soit qui mal y pense'.

The phrase is a popular one. It's the motto of British and Canadian guards and regiments. It also may be found on the walls of the British Columbia Supreme Court, and in heraldic representations. Two of its most beautiful, most well known representations are on the ceiling of Bath Abbey and on the Royal Coat of Arms for the United Kingdom.

In all cases, the phrase respects the spelling of its 14th century origins. So the choice of its letters predates by centuries a spelling-standardizing beancounter's much later preference for 'honni' over 'honi'.

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Q: What is the meaning of 'dei gratia' on the front and 'honi soit qui' on the rear?
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