Illegitimi non carborundum*

From Wikipedia:

Illegitimi non carborundum is a mock-Latin aphorism, often translated as “Don’t let the bastards grind you down”. The phrase itself has no meaning in Latin and can only be mock-translated as a Latin–English pun.

The phrase originated during World War II. Lexicographer Eric Partridge attributes it to British army intelligence very early in the war (using the dative plural illegitimis).

The phrase is also used as the first line of one of the extra cod Latin verses added in 1953 to an unofficial school song at Harvard University, “Ten Thousand Men of Harvard”. This most frequently played fight song of the Harvard University Band is, to some extent, a parody of more solemn school songs like “Fair Harvard thy Sons to your Jubilee Throng”. The first verse is a nonsense sequence of Latin clichés:

Illegitimum non carborundum;

Domine salvum fac.

Illegitimum non carborundum;

Domine salvum fac.

Gaudeamus igitur!

Veritas non sequitur?

Illegitimum non carborundum—ipso facto!

The phrase, often accompanied by an English translation, has appeared in many places, eg: (1985) – (as Nolite te Bastardes Carborundorum), in the novel The Handmaid’s Tale. The phrase is depicted as graffiti representing a “silent revolt” by a “slave woman in a futuristic totalitarian regime”. Vanity Fair called the phrase a “feminist rallying cry”.”

Jess Zafarris writes at

“Discombobulate” was one in a series of words invented in the early to mid-1800s as part of a fad popular among educated high-society types who made up faux words by compiling Latin prefixes, suffixes, roots and other non-Latin components into silly-sounding combinations.

Discombobulate itself is used to mean “confused” or “disoriented” now, but originally meant “embarrassed,” “upset,” or generally thrown off. If you knock off the suffixes and prefixes you end up with a nonsense/irrelevant root word (bob or bobule), but that’s not terribly important because the sound of the word was meant to be illustrative of its meaning, and you get the “not with it”/”not (mentally) together” part from dis and com.

Other words in the same curious Victorian vein include absquatulate (“to leave abruptly or run away,” based on a combo of the negative prefix ab- and the component squat, in the “settle/stay” sense), bloviate (blow + orate), obflisticate (probably something like “obfuscate” + “obliterate”), etc.”

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