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As a continuation to my previous question... For the sci-fi story I'm writing, I need a Latin motto which would translate to "Let the fuckers rot!" (or, Ad usum Delphini, "Let the unlawfully born rot").
I came up with two versions:

Permittite defututos putrescere.
Sic semper defututos putrescere.

(with the use of Google Translate, a friend who learns Latin and Carmina Catulla, Catullus XLI, "Ameana, puella defututa!")

Do you have any advices/corrections? I want the motto to sound short, hard and memorable, like "Semper Fidelis"!

EDIT After reading through the amazing answers and playing around with the words, I came up with:

Defututi in malam crucem

  • Obscene
  • Classical
  • Strong and emotional
  • Can not be understood by an English-speaking person
  • Can be shortened to "Defu Mal" (just like "Semper Fi")
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    What's the word you're censoring? I can think of a few different offensive nouns that start with F and end with S, and they would be translated differently. If your intended translation is "unlawfully born", then why include the offensive word just to censor it? Just put that into your English translation instead, maybe in brackets.
    – Draconis
    Nov 12, 2022 at 23:06
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    I can't speak for the whole site, but I don't have an issue with "fuckers" in the body of the question (I wouldn't use it in the title). We answer questions about Martial and Catullus here after all. The only words I'd have an issue with anywhere in a question are slurs of various sorts, which this isn't.
    – Draconis
    Nov 12, 2022 at 23:11
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    There is some ambiguity in the English that seems to be affecting answers: is the sentence an order to someone to allow the fuckers to rot, or is the sentence expressing a wish or hope that they would? Either of these meanings would be written in the same way in English (and indeed, English speakers would probably make little distinction between them), but Latin would say each differently and so answers need to know which one is more your intention.
    – KRyan
    Nov 14, 2022 at 19:05
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    @KRyan My impression of "let them ____" in this context is neither a wish nor a hope, maybe more along the lines of "for all I care, they can ____".
    – Aiken Drum
    Nov 19, 2022 at 12:43
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    @Alexander I have a request, if the site will allow it: If you publish your story, come back and note the title so people get to see the results in context. :)
    – Aiken Drum
    Nov 19, 2022 at 12:48

3 Answers 3

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My vote would go for:

Fellatores in malam crucem

Unlike some of the other suggestions you might come across, fellator ("sucker") is an attested obscenity. It seems to be a favorite of Martial's, but doesn't appear elsewhere. I would prefer it in this case to Catullus' pathicus or cinaedus since it has an active component, just like "fucker" does.

In (malam) crucem is a strong but not necessarily obscene way of telling someone to "go to hell" (literally "onto a (bad) cross"). I find this a great analogue to "rot", i.e. to die and be left hanging on a cross. The English "rot" does the same thing -- it signifies the suffering after death, rotting in the ground (or "in hell" as some phrases have it).

Plautus uses it all the time, so it might have a bit of an archaic flavor to it, but I find the same undertone in the English expression as well.

The final piece would be to express that subjunctive. I don't think it's necessary here to get the point across, but if desired, you'd see eant ("let them go") or even abeant ("let them be off") appended to the end.

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  • I like this one but it would work better if you specifically pointed out that telling someone to "rot" in English is an abbreviation of "rot in hell" that has, over the years, been used so much that it took on its own, more-generic meaning of just going away somewhere distant and staying there until you die and decompose so the speaker doesn't have to deal with you anymore. With the "in hell" remembered, your answer fits the real intent of the phrase much better.
    – Aiken Drum
    Nov 14, 2022 at 15:45
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    Mind you I think the choice of fellatores might come across as homophobic in the context of modern fiction written by a person aware of current social mores. I'd probably advise against actually using it, even though it's a good fit otherwise.
    – Aiken Drum
    Nov 14, 2022 at 15:49
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    I LOVE THIS!!! Very Classical and very strong and obscene, just what I needed! :) Except that I'd rather replace "fellatores", not because it might cause offence, but because it sounds like an English word. So.... my version would be: "Defututi in malam crucem"! Inspired by your answer, of course!
    – Alexander
    Nov 17, 2022 at 20:46
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    @Alexander No need to use Google, PHI is where it's at! Here's a search on the phrase: latin.packhum.org/search?q=in+malam+crucem
    – cmw
    Nov 17, 2022 at 21:21
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    @Alexander The second one down, for example, that I is the imperative of "go." It's one of the cleanest parallels we have to "go to hell."
    – cmw
    Nov 17, 2022 at 21:23
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First, this let is translated as the present subjunctive (as in “let there be light” – fiat lux from fieri, to be made, to come into existence).

Second, defututus means – well – to quote Lewis & Short: “exhausted by sensuality.” (This is a rather tame translation; Georges says rather more drastically: „bis zur Erschöpfung genotzüchtigt“, i.e., raped to exhaustion.) A “fucker” would literally be a fututor, which is a real word, but it's not an insult.

So we're looking for a Latin insult, and there are many to choose from. I would suggest impurus (literally “unclean, filthy, foul”), which is only very rarely used for things that actually need cleaning, and quite frequently to insult and disparage.

Third, “rot” presumably does not mean “putrefy” here, so putrescere or putrefieri are perhaps not ideal. If the meaning is “go to ruin,” I would suggest perire, not least because (as I wrote in an earlier answer) perea(n)t XYZ is a common phrase expressing strong disagreement with something or someone.

So, we get: Pereant impuri.

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    @tony I think telling someone to “get lost” would rather be abi in malam rem (in maximam malam rem, in malam crucem, in malum cruciatum, etc). Romans tended to speak of gallows and torture where English uses sexual words. Nov 13, 2022 at 10:03
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    @tony Profanity comes from whatever is taboo in a particular culture, the things you're not supposed to talk about in polite company. For us right now that's sex and bodily functions. Thus, words for sex get repurposed as a general sort of impolite emphatic.
    – Draconis
    Nov 13, 2022 at 17:18
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    This is the most correct answer for me. Noun and verb choice aside, subjunctive present tense is the correct choice for a conditional or wishful statement. You wouldn't use imperative because the subject is not speaking directly to the direct object of the sentence. Nov 14, 2022 at 10:34
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    @tony Throughout history and across all cultures, it seems one of the most common insults a man can make to another man is to suggest that he fucks things that it would be immoral, illegal, unhealthy, or in some other way deserving of ridicule, to fuck. Mothers, dogs, pigs, sheep, uncles, etc. That being said, the specific variants are generally extremely insulting and possibly dangerously to one's own health if uttered in the wrong company, so I think people simply took the pattern and removed the specificity without removing the insult to produce a more generic, toned-down, safer version.
    – Aiken Drum
    Nov 14, 2022 at 15:37
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    @CalebFaruki in fairness, Latin had this funny little thing called the third-person imperative, which Draconis used in his answer, but it is archaic and mostly used in legal provisions. In normal prose, one would use the hortatory subjunctive. Nov 14, 2022 at 22:16
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Grammatically, I'd recommend a third person plural imperative: "let them ___!". The hard part is choosing the vocabulary.

For "rot", my inclination is to go with intereō, "be ruined, go to perdition"; another good choice would be pereō "perish". The noun form interitus is a fairly neutral "destruction", while exitium is more "annihilation", but the verb form exeō is less violent and more neutral. Thus are the vagaries of language. More violent terms like perdō and pernecō are harder to make a snappy motto out of, because passive third-person imperatives are extremely rare and archaic.

For the noun, there are plenty of sexual terms in Latin that have been repurposed as generic insults. Just like "fuckers" in English means something more like "bastards" than "people who fuck", you can use cinaedus and pathicus as a general-purpose insult as well as a term for a man who's scandalously submissive in bed. Dēfutūtus is not especially common for this, in my experience, but the meaning is still eminently understandable: in a slogan like this, it's pretty clearly just an insult rather than literally people who have sex excessively often.

So I would say intereuntō dēfutūtī: "let the bastards be destroyed!" Feel free to mix and match in the other words used here (exeuntō, cinaedī, etc) if they sound better to you.

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  • That's a very good answer Draconis, it gave me an inspiration to play around with words... still, "intereunto" sounded a bit tame for my purposes ;)
    – Alexander
    Nov 17, 2022 at 20:43

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