This is probably a basic question but I am looking for a little help translating "death to bad memories". I come up with either; mors ut malum memorias or Mors est malis memorias.

My own thought is ut which can be used as to. Or Is it possible to translate it to memoriam malorum mortem not using ut or est at all?

Which is the correct form? And even more importantly why is it the correct form? Am I off by miles with my attempted translation? Any help will of course be greatly appreciated.

1 Answer 1


At first I also thought this was a basic question, but I think it is actually not that easy to answer.

Let us first look at your suggestions. I am afraid the answer to your question: “Am I off by miles?” is yes. You are on the right path with the three words mors, malus and memoria but beyond that, frankly, the sentences look like a leisurely but somewhat aimless walk through the declension table ;)

A bad memory is mala memoria. Actually I suspect that rather means “bad memory” in the sense that someone cannot remember things well. In any event I would prefer a more expressive word like tristis memoria, which means a sad/unhappy/depressing memory. The plural is tristes memoriae.

Now my first impulse was: The English “death to X” should be expressed with the Latin dative, yielding:

Mors tristibus memoriis.

And I am pretty certain an ancient Roman would understand that, just as a medieval monk would. But it seems to me this is not the idiomatic way to express the idea in Latin; at least I could find no example older than the motto of an American air force unit.

A more typical Latin expression would be Perea(n)t X, which is, for example, found in the famous song Gaudeamus igitur:

Pereat tristitia,
Pereant osores.

Down with sadness,
Down with the haters.

So I would ultimately suggest this form:

Pereant tristes memoriae.

Literally: “May unhappy memories perish.” Like “perish” in English, the verb perire strongly suggests death.

  • Excellent answer! The correction makes a lot more sense and the explanation even more ;) Your suggestion has put me on a path to look at Latin in another way. My thanks! I will wait a little longer to give other answers a chance but I consider this question answered by you.
    – Tom Sol
    Nov 18, 2020 at 12:45
  • Great anwer! Your observation that malae memorial means good at forgetting is spot on. I also have no objection to your translation. However, I'd like to add that memoria malorum might be closer to what the original poster meant by a bad memory. If that's true. then pereant memoriae malorum might serve you just as well as tristes memorial.
    – Figulus
    Dec 31, 2023 at 2:27

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