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A sun dial in Meran featuring an AEIOU inscription, with Latin words.

AEIOU, or A.E.I.O.U., was a symbolic device used by the Habsburg emperors. Emperor Frederick III (1415–93), who had a fondness for mythical formulae, habitually signed buildings and objects with the acronym.[1] Frederick III did not explain its meaning at the time, though shortly before his death, he claimed it stood for (German) "Alles Erdreich ist Österreich untertan" (MKL 1890)[2] or "All the world is subject to Austria." However other interpretations have been put forth. Most interpretations proceed on the assumption that it was meant as a political slogan, from the Latin phrases:

These versions refer to Austria of today, as well as to the huge Habsburg empire.

In 1951, Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy suggested the interpretation: Austria Europae Imago, Onus, Unio: Austria is Europe's spitting image, burden and unification.[citation needed]


Ben Bernanke mentions jokingly "AEIOU" in a session of the Federal Reserve bank in 2008.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Brewer, E. Cobham (1978 (reprint of 1894 version)), The Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, Edwinstowe, England: Avenel Books, p. 1, ISBN 0-517-25921-4 
  2. ^ a b c "A", Meyers Konversationslexikon, (various authors), Volume 1, page 1, 1885-1890, web (Commons): MKL-b1-p1: has "A.E.I.O.U." on first page of entire 16-volume encyclopedia, as 3 Latin phrases: "Austriae est imperare orbi universo" and "Austriae est imperium orbis universi" with the German phrase "Alles Erdreich ist Oesterreich unterthan" noted with "Friedrich III.", plus a 3rd Latin phrase "Austria erit in orbe ultima" with "Österreich wird bestehen bis ans Ende der Welt" ("Austria will stand until the end of the world"); note that "Oesterreich" is "Österreich" ("Oe") with first letter "O".
  3. ^ New York Times, online, February 21, 2014: "The Fed’s Actions in 2008: What the Transcripts Reveal"

Further reading[edit]