How would you translate "alternative facts" into Latin, in the sense used infamously today by Kellyanne Conway?

My first thought is res ad libitum but that too strongly suggests making up facts willy-nilly to support one's desired conclusion. Of course, that is Conway's meaning, but the subtlety is putting that meaning one obvious step away from the literal meaning. A good translation should literally mean "other possible personal choices of what is real". It should not make sense, but superficially it should appear to make sense, but not in a way that would fool anyone.

As I understand alternatus, it won't work because it means only choosing from or jumping between two or a small number of alternatives (like "alternate" in English).

  • 2
    How about veritas varia? It's not exactly the same thing, but it sounds good and it's not that far off. If this is not a good match, what feels wrong? (I can write it into an answer if I know if it's in the right direction.)
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Jan 23, 2017 at 1:07
  • I prefer to use mendacia.
    – cmw
    Jan 23, 2017 at 1:51
  • Or verum variatum?
    – Tom Cotton
    Jan 23, 2017 at 11:34
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    @BenKovitz That was tongue-in-cheek.
    – cmw
    Jan 23, 2017 at 23:44
  • 1
    @BenKovitz Sicne tweet Latine vocatur? Forsitan rogatum habere debemus de "Twitter" et "tweet"...
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Jan 24, 2017 at 3:26

2 Answers 2


I suggest veritas varia. This is perhaps not a perfect match to the English phrase, but I see some good sides:

  • It sounds nice. The alliteration makes it sound as if the two words belonged together.
  • Veritas is a reasonably good translation for "facts" or "truth".
  • Varia describes something that changes. The facts are not additional — it is not a question of learning more. The truth may vary from time to time or from person to person.
  • It sounds sensible and innocent at first glance, but it quickly reveals its true meaning, especially in proper context. It does not directly comment whether the facts are correct. I believe this was a key goal.

The biggest difference to the English phrase in my opinion is that varia does not have the flavor of choice "alternative" does. The facts just happen to be different for different people (and in different situations), not necessarily because people have chosen different facts.


Two common ways of saying 'fact' are res ipsa and res vera, and Lewis & Short tells me that the opposite of res vera is res ficta. So, for the plural 'alternative facts,' I suggest:

  • res aliae atque ipsae ('things other than/different from facts themselves'), which allows for some nice elisions – it somehow seems appropriate that things would be hidden or obscured in the term
  • res aliae quam verae ('things other than/different from true facts')
  • res nec verae nec fictae ('things neither true facts nor lies')
  • res [verae/ipsae] alterae ('a second set of facts')
  • On the model of ambiguam...Salamina in Horace Odes I.7.29, where L&S notes that ambiguam = alteram ('a second Salamis [such as would cause uncertainty/confusion in those who look at a map or hear the city mentioned]'), res [verae/ipsae] ambiguae ('a second set of facts [such as would cause uncertainty/confusion in those who look at the video/photographic/etc. evidence]')

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