Dog Latin - From Wikipedia the free encyclopedia

This article gives self-sourcing examples without describing their significance in the context of the article. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources that describe the examples' significance, and by removing less pertinent examples. Unsourced or poorly sourced material may be challenged or removed. (August 2017) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)

Dog Latin, also known as Cod Latin, macaronic Latin, mock Latin, or Canis Latinicus,[1] refers to the creation of a phrase or jargon in imitation of Latin,[2] often by "translating" English words (or those of other languages) into Latin by conjugating or declining them as if they were Latin words. Unlike the similarly named language game Pig Latin (a form of playful spoken code), Dog Latin is more of a humorous device for invoking scholarly seriousness.

Sometimes "dog Latin" can mean a poor-quality attempt at writing genuine Latin.[3]


Examples of this predate even Shakespeare, whose 1598 play, Love's Labour's Lost, includes a reference to dog Latin:


A once-common schoolboy doggerel which, though very poor Latin, would have done a tolerable job of reinforcing the rhythms of Latin hexameters:

Patres conscripti took a boat, and went to Philippi;
Boatum est upsettum, magno cum grandine venti.
Omnes drownderunt qui swim away non potuerunt.
Trumpeter unus erat, qui coatum scarlet habebat;
Et magnum periwig, tied about with the tail of a dead pig.[6]

Insofar as this specimen can be translated, it is as follows:

The conscript fathers [i.e. Senators] took a boat and went to Philippi. The boat was upset by a great hailstorm of wind. All drowned who could not swim away. There was a trumpeter, who had a scarlet coat, and a great periwig, tied about with the tail of a dead pig.

The meter uses Latin vowel quantities for the Latin parts, and to some extent follows English stress in the English parts.

Another variant has similar lines in a different order, with the following variants:

Stormum surgebat et boatum oversetebat

Excipe John Periwig tied up to the tail of a dead pig.[7]

The meaning here is "The storm rose up and overturned the boat" and "Except for John Periwig", etc.

Another verse in similar vein, from Ronald Searle's Down with Skool, is:[8]

Caesar adsum jam forte
Brutus aderat
Caesar sic in omnibus
Brutus sic in at

which, when read aloud using traditional English pronunciation of Latin, sounds like the following:

Caesar 'ad(had) some jam for tea
Brutus 'ad a rat
Caesar sick in omnibus
Brutus sick in 'at (hat)

but which means in Latin

Caesar I am already here by chance
Brutus was present
Caesar thus in all things
Brutus thus in but

The following spoof of legal Latin, in the fictional case of Daniel v Dishclout (from George Alexander Stevens' "Lecture on Heads", 1765),[9] describes a kitchen:

camera necessaria pro usus cookare, cum saucepannis, stewpannis, scullero, dressero, coalholo, stovis, smoak-jacko; pro roastandum, boilandum, fryandum, et plumpudding mixandum, pro turtle soupos, calve's-head-hashibus, cum calipee et calepashibus.

In English, this is:

A necessary room for the purpose of cooking, with saucepans, stewpans, scullery, dresser, coalhole, stoves, smoke-jack; for roasting, boiling, frying, and mixing plum pudding, for turtle soups, calves'-head hashes, with calipee and calipashes.

Further examples

  • In the Harry Potter book and movie series, the words to most magical spells (e.g. "Expelliarmus", "Petrificus Totalus", etc.) are in dog Latin.[10][11]
  • Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner, two Looney Tunes characters, are given various dog Latin Linnaean taxonomical names at the beginning of most of their cartoons, except for The Whizzard of Ow which used their actual scientific names.
  • Illegitimi non carborundum, dog Latin for "Don't let the bastards grind you down"
  • HoboSapiens, a John Cale album
  • Homo Consumericus, a concept in social science
  • Homo Obesus and Homo sedentarius, sardonic concepts in nutritional sciences and anthropology
  • Mater si, magistra no, a macaronic mashup of Mater et magistra and Cuba si, Castro no
  • Reductio ad Hitlerum, a dog Latin phrase
  • Smugglerius, a dog Latin name for a cast of a smuggler's body posed as a dying gladiator
  • Mots d'Heures, a book of verses in cod-French [12]
  • dorkus malorkus, an insult spoken by Bart Simpson
  • semper ubi sub ubi, A common English-Dog Latin translation joke. The phrase is nonsensical in Latin, translating to "always where under where", but becomes a pun when spoken in English, as some speakers' pronunciation of "where" is a homophone for "wear", such that the phrase can be interpreted as "always wear underwear".
  • gustatus similis pullus, English-Dog Latin translation that purports to mean "tastes like chicken."
  • "Marcus Pincus Fuktus", Tagline of a joke relating to two men leaving a clothing store.
  • "O sibili si ergo, fortibus es in ero. O nobili, demis trux, si husinem, causen dux", Dog Latin poem - "Oh see Billy, See her go, forty buses in a row. Oh, no, Billy, them is trucks. See who's in 'em. Cows and Ducks."
  • The Motor Bus, an extended play on the declension of the English word "bus" as if it were a regular -us noun in Latin.
  • In Terry Pratchett's Discworld series, "Latatian" is the ancient language of the city-state of Ankh-Morpork, whose ancient history resembles that of the early Roman Republic. As "Morporkian" is English, Latatian is Dog Latin, used especially for mottoes. For example, the motto of the City Watch was originally "Fabricati Diem, Puncti Agunt Celeriter", meaning "Make the day, the moments pass quickly"; due to erosion, this later shortened to "Fabricati Diem, Punc"; that is, "Make My Day, Punk".
  • Dog Latin often appears in Adventure Time: for instance, the second season premiere "It Came from the Nightosphere" featured the spell, "Maloso vobiscum et cum spiritum", roughly translating to "May evil be with you and also with your spirit", an obvious play on the Latin phrase "Dominus vobiscum...", used in the Roman Catholic mass. Furthermore, the fifth season episode "Play Day" featured an engraving that read, "Butyrum lac surepo [sic] Kee Oth Pradium [sic]", which corresponds (albeit with spelling errors) to "Buttermilk, syrup, Kee Oth [the name of a character], breakfast."
  • Tom Ruegger confirmed that Yakko, Wakko, and Dot's species from the animated series Animaniacs is "cartoonus characterus".
  • The opening to Last Week Tonight with John Oliver makes extensive use and refers to Oliver as "Hostus Mostus".
  • In Monty Python's Life of Brian a character is named "Biggus Dickus", with his wife, "Incontinentia Buttox."
  • In The Dresden Files Wizard Harry Dresden uses the Spell Flickum Bicus (tuus) to light candles. Translation: Flick (your) Bic.

See also


  1. ^ Canis Latinicus - Television Tropes and Idioms
  2. ^ Dog-Latin,
  3. ^ OED s.v. "dog," compounds C3a
  4. ^ The Straight Dope: What's the origin of pig Latin?
  5. ^ Letter to John Adams, 08/10/1815
    I had supposed them defunct with the society of Jesuits, of which they were: and that their works, although above ground, were, from their bulk and insignificance, as effectually entombed on their shelves, as if in the graves of their authors. Fifty-two volumes in folio, of the acta sanctorum, in dog-Latin, would be a formidable enterprise to the most laborious German.
  6. ^ Notes and Queries. October 13, 1855. Retrieved January 16, 2010. 
  7. ^ Percival Leigh (1840). The comic Latin grammar. Retrieved January 16, 2010. 
  8. ^ Willans, Geoffrey; Searle, Ronald (1953). Down with Skool!. London: Max Parrish. 
  9. ^ [1], retrieved November 2, 2009
  10. ^ Langford, David (2007). The End of Harry Potter?. Macmillan. p. 62. ISBN 9781429985208. Retrieved 2016-06-13. 
  11. ^ "Canis Latinicus - TV Tropes". 2016-06-09. Retrieved 2016-06-13. 
  12. ^ van Rooten, Luis d'Antin (1977). Mots D'Heures: Gousses, Rames. Angus & Robertson. ISBN 0207957991.