In the science fiction TV show Battlestar Galactica, two characters share the following greeting on occasion:

  • What do you hear?
  • Nothing but the rain.

I've been wondering what would be the closest translation in Latin. Would the following be correct?

  • Quid audis?
  • Nil nisi pluviam

I'm particularly unsure about whether I should be using nil or nihil in this situation.

  • 1
    compare en.wikipedia.org/wiki/De_mortuis_nil_nisi_bonum
    – AakashM
    Commented Nov 22, 2023 at 14:52
  • 2
    @AakashM Note that while that is a very famous quote, and (since we are on Stack Exchange after all) the form nil has found favour with various programming language designers, it's quite rare in actual Latin, and if your model is good classical prose, it's probably best to avoid it completely (in favour of nihil). Meaning-wise it makes no difference. Commented Nov 24, 2023 at 8:34

1 Answer 1


For the first, your expression is correct. For example:

quid uides? Plautus, Menaechmi 1062

In the second, probably nihil would be more common:

est sed nulla iam ultra gens, nihil nisi fluctus ac saxa (There is no more tribe still beyond [to be conquered], nothing except the waves and rocks") Tacitus, Agricola 30.3

For rain you can use pluviam, imbrem or aquam:

aquae nisi fallit augur annosa cornix ("if the aged crow that predicts rain does not mislead me") Horace Odes III.17

Intervallaque montium maxime recipiunt imbres ("Valleys between mountains receive the most rain") Vitruvius VIII.7

scrobes fodito: ita sole pluviaque macerabuntur ("dig holes so they will be softened by the sun and rains") Columella, On Trees 18.1

praecoques serito, ut ante pluviam fructum deligas ("plant early so that you may pick fruit before the rain comes") Columella, On Trees 21

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