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A number of websites translate "scelerisque" from Latin to English as "chocolate." I am skeptical of this claim, as I can find no trustworthy source of confirmation.

Rather, I see reputable sources translate "sceleris" as "criminal," and so "scelerisque" would mean "and a criminal" (or so my barely intermediate knowledge of Latin would suggest).

Is it correct, I am wondering, to translate "scelerisque" as "chocolate"? If so, is it neo-Latin? Or is it just a misunderstanding stemming from the use of "scelerisque" in "ipsum lorem" dummy text (as is the case)?

Thanks!

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    out of interest, what are the websites where you found this translation?
    – Tristan
    Sep 22 at 12:05
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Nothing to do with chocolate (of which the Romans were of course sadly ignorant).

Sceleris is the genitive singular form of the noun scelus "evil deed, crime". It means "of an/the evil deed". -Que, as you note, means "and", so scelerisque means "and of an/the evil deed". (ETA: as cmw points out, it could alternatively be a dative or ablative plural of the less common adjective scelerus, in which case it would mean "and to/from/with/etc. the wicked ones".)

Google knows of a chocolate sauce imperial stout called Scelerisque, which presumably is in some way the source of the translation error. (ETA: actually more likely the other way around, since cnread points out that Google Translate, for reasons best known to itself, actually gives scelerisque as its translation for chocolate.) Who knows why it's called that; there may be an allusion to Horace's well-known Ode 22, whose first line is Integer vitae scelerisque purus "Upright of life and free from wickedness".

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  • I think you found something with the imperial stout connection. (While I knew the Romans were unaware of chocolate, I thought perhaps "scelerisque" might mean "chocolate" the same way "Vulnus sclopetarium" means "gunshot wound" -- when clearly the Romans didn't have guns (though of course they did have other tools for firing projectiles).
    – skb8721
    Sep 21 at 14:36
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    To me, it seems more likely that it's the other way around – i.e., that Google Translate is the source of the name of the stout from a single microbrewery. Just based on many of the translation requests that show up on Latin Language SE, it's easy to imagine that the brewers thought it would be cool and clever to name their product using the Latin for chocolate; but instead of consulting a knowledgeable source, they just plugged the word into GT.
    – cnread
    Sep 21 at 16:43
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    @cnread You're right, I hadn't realized GT actually translates "chocolate" as "scelerisque"! It sometimes seems like it must have been programmed by fans of the Monty Python Hungarian phrasebook sketch.
    – TKR
    Sep 21 at 17:06
  • @TKR Look at the other possible words for it, too: eget for "chocolates", scelerisque placenta for "chocolate cake" (oh, my!), and scelerisque ", complete with a spurious quote. What a travesty!
    – cmw
    Sep 21 at 17:11
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    This is hilarious: "i scelerisque sit amet" = "I like chocolate a lot." Perhaps the cautious praise of the updated Google Translate was too enthusiastic after all.
    – brianpck
    Sep 21 at 22:26
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Those websites are not real sources of information. They're likely just compilations made from code for the purpose of quick content generation (often for advertising revenue). That "book" on Google Books is just a long word list, again likely compiled automatically and without any editorial supervision. It's garbage.

A good quick way to find out a Latin term for something modern is to check from Vicipaedia, which uses socolata or chocolata to translate "chocolate."

Otherwise we have a whole topic on which dictionaries you should use. Any of those will give you much better information than Googling some "random" website.

And yes, you're right about scelerisque. It doesn't mean "chocolate" at all. scelerus is Latin for "wicked," from scelus meaning "crime" or "wicked deed." If, however, you see scelerisque you're probably looking at the genitive of scelus ("of the crime" or "the crime's"), not a form of scelerus.

You're also right that the -que is an enclitic (attached to the end of a word) and means "and." So scelerisque means "and of the crime," as it was used often in ancient Latin.

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  • A great many websites claim "scelerisque" means "chocolate," as I found by cross-referencing the terms in Google. But here are a few examples (below). Note one of the examples is even a Latin-to-English book, as opposed to a website. Granted, none of these sites are particularly trustworthy, which in part spurred my skepticism. translate.com/dictionary/latin-english/scelerisque-5075523 latin.english-dictionary.help/… tinyurl.com/3djyb7kb
    – skb8721
    Sep 21 at 14:22
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    @skb8721 The one thing you'll notice about all those sites is that they don't tell you how they got that information. Most likely it's actually just some bot code that created a site to get people to look at it for ad revenue or other quick monetary schemes. If you want something more reputable, try any of these. In general, avoid getting any information from a website you cannot verify.
    – cmw
    Sep 21 at 15:09
  • @skb8721 It's just another example of internet nonsense. One of my peeves in my "day job" is the number of people who get confused by a near-meaningless term in mechanical engineering which appears on lots of reputable-looking websites. In fact they are all copy/pasted from one Wikipedia page which "legitimizes" the term with a reference to a single 19th-century book which is otherwise (and with good reason) completely forgotten.
    – alephzero
    Sep 21 at 23:25

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