I have this proverb I use quite commonly. I was wondering what it would be in latin. Can you help me?

*"In high enough pressure even shit becomes a diamond."

  • Welcome to the site! Is it important that you have literally "shit" and "diamond", or is it enough if the overall message is the same? – Joonas Ilmavirta Jul 6 '19 at 17:50
  • Yeah. It is important to keep diamond and shit in this case. : P – Galbathor Jul 7 '19 at 10:24

pressura satis magna coactum fit stercus adamas.

(If) Compressed by sufficiently great pressure, shit becomes a diamond.

pressura: The Oxford Latin dictionary defines this as 'The action or fact of pressing, pressure'; it's used of the force of water and the crush of a crowd. It's also used to describe pressing things such as grapes.

coactum: A form of the verb cogere, which has as one definition, 'To compress; to form into by compression; also, to bring (to a new condition) by pressure.' Pliny the Elder uses it in the context of gemstones in Naturalis historia 37.1, where he speaks of the 'grandeur of the universe densely compressed' (in artum coacta rerum naturae maiestas).

If you want something slightly pithier, you could omit coactum without impairing the meaning.

| improve this answer | |
  • Nice find with cogere! But does stercus really capture the meaning of "shit" in English? To my understanding stercus isn't inherently negative, more like English "manure". – Draconis Jul 6 '19 at 20:24
  • @Draconis. I was taking stercus as inherently unsavory and relying on the juxtaposition of stercus and adamas to do a lot of the heavy lifting. Were you thinking coacta...merda maybe? – cnread Jul 6 '19 at 21:05
  • Perhaps? I don't honestly know of a better word for this, I just have a vague recollection of excrement-related words not being particularly taboo. – Draconis Jul 6 '19 at 21:15
  • 1
    @Draconis. Right, I remember hearing or reading that somewhere. Still, I'm not sure something taboo is necessarily needed here. Even a more neutral word like manure/dung still works at the level of undesirable vs. desirable, worthless vs. valuable, and a whole range of other dualities, even hard vs. soft and light vs. dark/opaque vs. translucent. I guess I'm just putting less weight on the original poster's choice of the word 'shit' than you are. I'll be interested to see what others come up with. – cnread Jul 6 '19 at 21:40
  • 1
    Thanks. My life is complete. – Galbathor Jul 7 '19 at 10:16

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.