I'm writing a sci-fi story about the Vatican inventing a very special weapon to eradicate heresy on mass scale. Since the weapon comes from the Roman Empire, it should be called in Latin, right?
After looking in online dictionaries and translators that's what I came up with for "Holy Thermonuclear Napalm":

Ignis Sanctus Glutinosus, ejus particulae calore dividintur

  • Q.1. Does that sound well-formed and grammatical? [apparently it is, according to the comments]
  • Q.2. Since the story is somewhat tongue-in-cheek, would you be so kind as to suggest changes/additions to my translation to make it sound ever more "Classical"? The phrase is being translated word-by-word in the text for a comical effect.

I've seen another option for "sticky", "viscosus", but I prefer "glutinosus" :)

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    This is actually a lot better than I would expect from online translators, especially for something so thoroughly non-classical. "Holy sticky fire, its particles are split by heat". Which dictionaries were you drawing on for this?
    – Draconis
    Oct 29, 2022 at 16:28
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    Also, when I saw this question in the list I was expecting it to be about profanity. "Holy thermonuclear napalm, Batman!"
    – Draconis
    Oct 29, 2022 at 16:29
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    A Roman would have undoubtedly used a Greek word for this, especially because the Greeks already had this technology called "sticky fire" (πῦρ κολλητικόν), but your phrase seems fine to me if you want pure Latin. The Vatican stopped using Latin internally over 50 years ago, by the way. They speak Italian there now. Oct 29, 2022 at 17:21
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    Strictly in terms of grammatical/morphological correctness of what you've come up with, the relative pronoun cujus would work better than ejus, I think; and dividintur should be dividuntur.
    – cnread
    Oct 30, 2022 at 19:40
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    Strictly in terms of physics, thermonuclear reactions are fusion and not fission reactions, so rather than correcting the spelling of dividintur, I'd suggest replacing the word with something more apt (conglutinant maybe? Also, anything wrong with just plain thermonuclearis?) But I love ignis glutinosus for napalm.
    – Figulus
    Oct 31, 2022 at 0:46

1 Answer 1


There are a number of issues with your suggestion, ranging from basic grammar to the more factual appropriateness.

The more grammatical issues:

  • dividintur isn't Latin -- the form you are looking for would be dividuntur.
  • the demonstrative pronoun ejus (its) should be the relative pronoun cujus (whose, or "of which").

If cujus particulae calore dividuntur is supposed to translate "thermonuclear," I see a number of issues:

  • dividere as a verb for nuclear fission seems actually fine, except that findere, findo, fisi, fissum already sort of owns the spot, I suppose.
  • For "atoms," I would honestly just say atomi (classically attested! although obviously not quite in the modern sense), or elementa.
  • A thermonuclear reaction is a fusion reaction only powered by the temperature or pressure of the matter. So the description is completely off.

If findere seems appropriate for fission, fundere could easily appear to be the obvious choice for fusion, but no: it simply means "pour, shed," and confundere is right (I suppose scientists could not very well have reported to their superiors that they had achieved "nuclear confusion").

So you could say: ... cujus elementa suo calore ipsa impulsa in unum confunduntur.

Or, you know, you could just say thermonuclearis. Unfortunately that's a Greek-Latin mix, which some people dislike.

The Vatican's own, notoriously purist Lexicon Recentis Latinitatis seems to call an H-Bomb pyrobolus hydrogenicus (at least it's all Greek). So for your napalm, how about Pyroglia hydrogenica? (Feminine, i.e. it's Sancta pyroglia, etc.; with such words, you can also use Greek declension endings if you want, i.e. illius pyroglias etc., please see Wiktionary for what they all are.) This means, roughly, "hydrogen fire glue." That is, of course, assuming your napalm is based on fusing hydrogen atoms ...

  • Love your answer Sebastian, thank you for your effort! Yes, of course, dividuntur, I just made a typo while typing the text from memory (it was written correctly in my text). "Cujus"! right. I can feel the difference between "ejus" and "cujus". Regarding fission vs. fusion... oh my God... how stupid of me!!! I don't know why I thought about "diving atoms" instead of "fusing them". "Thermonuclearis"... uhm, no... it sounds almost like English, I might have as well resorted to pythonesque faux Latin ("A roman senator called Biggus Dickus... his wife's name was Incontinentia... Buttocks!")
    – Alexander
    Oct 31, 2022 at 23:39
  • Vatican's "Lexicon"... hmmmm... I DO love their rendition of H-Bomb... And it's "official"! :) However, the wordier, artificial version would sound funnier. I LOVE your "cujus elementa suo calore ipsa impulsa in unum confunduntur"! That'll be the final version.
    – Alexander
    Oct 31, 2022 at 23:41

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