I know no Latin, but playing around with Google Translate I came up with "Non insectum opus est". Insectum seems like a good stand in for a generic bug, but maybe blatta is better (see http://www.catb.org/jargon/html/B/bug.html)? And opus carries the connotation that the entire program is as designed.

  • As a counterfactual study into the matter, I wonder if there is any language that translated 'bug', 'feature' and is using as a standard in daily language. I feel like all developers just gave up and they are using all these terms in English anyway. So if Latin was alive, it could possibly take the same road. I think, to have these words in Latin, we would need to first author many software books in Latin to have a real playground, otherwise everybody might invent their own. Might be good to find some examples in internet to see if people intuitively came up with the same words.
    – oguzalb
    Commented Sep 7, 2020 at 7:56
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    @oguzalb I'm no developer, but in normal Finnish I'd express "not a bug but a feature" as "ei vika vaan ominaisuus", which literally has the somewhat broader meaning of "not a fault but a property". Words like this exist in many languages, including Latin, but their meaning is rarely confined to software.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Commented Sep 7, 2020 at 13:38
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    @oguzalb: you seriously underestimate us, French people who decided to rewrite computer language so that the world may have a laugh. The French word for "bug" is "bogue" (jargonf.org/wiki/bogue - it is actually the name of the spiky cover of chestnut and was allegedly chosen as such on purpose)
    – WoJ
    Commented Sep 8, 2020 at 5:43
  • It needs to be noted that "It's not a bug, it's a feature" is often used as an excuse for re-categorizing the perceived aberrant behavior. And sometimes it's used in a jocular fashion.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Sep 8, 2020 at 22:13
  • @WoJ well the same approach is also tried for Turkish in some universities, and those scholars are actually teaching with those words. I mean words that also cover "register", "chip" etc and Turkish is not based on Latin words, so they are totally new and very different to the English ones. But those don't reach to the actual sector, people generally make fun of them Thanks for the link though, I can read some French, will have a look, will be very interesting
    – oguzalb
    Commented Sep 9, 2020 at 22:37

1 Answer 1


Google Translate is unreliable with Latin and you should not take anything it gives seriously. The suggestion non insectum opus est sounds like "an insect is not work".

I am not aware of good Latin words for "bug" or "feature". Therefore I would take a different approach and suggest:

Non forte sed ratione.
Not by chance but by design.

Another option is to go with participles:

Non ruptum sed designatum.
Not broken but designed.

If you refer to something specific, remember that the Latin participle needs the correct form (gender and number). As just a general rule without referring to any single thing, I think singular neuter works well.

You can also substitute erratum (misstep, mistake) for ruptum (broken). This should be seen as a noun (errare is intransitive, so erratum is best seen as a derived noun rather than a participle). If you want to shift nuance from "broken" to "misstep", you can say Non erratum sed designatum.

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    Playing off of that format, which to me retains the general flow and feel of the english, what about something like Non comminutus sed ratione, "not broken but by design".
    – Adam
    Commented Sep 7, 2020 at 13:27
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    @Adam I think the parallelism works better if you have two participles, "not broken but designed". How does non ruptum sed designatum sound?
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Commented Sep 7, 2020 at 13:35
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    I like that! This is a phrase I encounter at work a lot, so I'm very familiar with the original. Oh, one additional I idea from my wife: non erratum sed designatum
    – Adam
    Commented Sep 7, 2020 at 13:46
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    "Wrong step" is absolutely perfect for a programming bug! Commented Sep 7, 2020 at 17:15
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    The problem with this excellent answer is that the phrase "feature, not bug" is used to refer to the properties of software that were in fact not designed. Usually this phrase is used to express "I didn't intend for it to be that way, but the code is already written and I'm satisfied with its behaviour even if you are not". In Hebrew, lacking the word "feature", I would substitute the word "advantage". Other viable words might be "trait", "property", or "difference" if Latin has those words.
    – dotancohen
    Commented Sep 8, 2020 at 18:42

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