How to say "the principle of explosion"? Would it be principium crepitum? The principle of explosion usually is understood to mean ex contradictione sequitur quodlibet, yet I'm very curious as to how to translate/say "principle of explosion" into/in Latin. Would it be principium crepitum? Warmest regards.

2 Answers 2


First off, the actual principle was usually called ex falso quodlibet or ex contradictione quodlibet in Latin philosophy literature. That said, if you want a literal translation of "principle of explosion," crepitus is probably not a good word for it. Lewis and Short translate crepitus as "a rattling, creaking, clattering, clashing, rustling, a noise, etc.," but particularly it is used for "a breaking wind with noise," that is, a loud fart, so a Roman might hear principium crepitūs as "the principle of farting," which is not at all what you want.

Second, the "explosion" in the "principle of explosion" is not a literal explosion, but explosion as a metaphor for boundless multiplication of consequences, so something like copia or abundantia for "abundance" would probably communicate the intent better than something like explosio, detonatio or deflagratio. So *principium abundantiae might be a rough approximation, though definitely not something that would be understood by a philosopher.

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    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Commented Mar 8, 2017 at 14:46
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    I think the first part ("ex falso quodlibet") should be the recommended course here: principium abundantiae suggests a very different meaning to me. Also, I did a slight edit since crepitus is 4th declension.
    – brianpck
    Commented Mar 8, 2017 at 15:22
  • I think you've accurately identified the complication: "explosion" is a metaphor for what is meant by "anything follows from contradiction" (ex contradictione sequitur quodlibet). My aim is to reduce the Latin phrase into a concise term like principium contradictionis Commented Mar 8, 2017 at 19:32

“The principle of explosion” is a modern metaphor. In the time when Latin had a significant population of native speakers, nobody would have used it. In any way you decide to express it in Latin, you have to force a new meaning on old words. You could play the game of trying to guess what an ancient Roman's choice of words would be if he were suddenly teleported to our times; another option is to use the Latin words as they are used today, after centuries of ininterrupted usage and evolution. What keeps Latin alive, in my opinion, others might differ, is the huge amount of Latin vocabulary in many languages of the world. If, in the course of time, the meaning of explosio has come to encompass what we are dealing with here, accept it and say principium explosionis. Your contemporaries will understand you, and you have nobody else to talk to.

  • Maybe it's just me, but I disagree pretty strongly with this translation pattern: it has led to some genuinely frightening neologisms.
    – brianpck
    Commented Mar 8, 2017 at 19:29
  • Many thanks for your comment. I agree that Astronautae in statione spatiali is somewhat troubling. However, following the opposite approach, you risk translating “netizen” with retiarius, which is even more troubling... All approaches can generate monsters when pushed to the extreme
    – Dario
    Commented Mar 8, 2017 at 22:32

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