Plausible deniability in English is a condition in which a subject can safely and believably deny knowledge of any particular truth that may exist so as to shield the subject from any responsibility associated with the knowledge of such truth.

Is there a word or phrase in Latin that would adequately convey this meaning? Ideally it should be a single word.

  • 3
    For those who are attempting to answer this question, there is a term veri similis which means probable or plausable. In addition, I personally did not find any word directly meaning "deniability," so I made one up based on nego, negare, negavi, negatus, which is negabilitas. Do with that what you will!
    – Sam K
    Mar 26, 2017 at 22:05
  • 6
    The Italian translation of the term is negazione plausibile, which makes me want to favor a simple negatio credibilis / veri similis
    – brianpck
    Mar 28, 2017 at 16:32
  • 3
    @brianpck My vote would definitely be for negatio probabilis / credibilis.
    – cmw
    Mar 28, 2017 at 18:55
  • 2
    Though thinking about it now, the former might mean "a denial is likely [forthcoming]."
    – cmw
    Mar 28, 2017 at 22:16
  • 1
    When was the concept coined?
    – Rafael
    Mar 29, 2017 at 17:22

1 Answer 1


The term is rather new, so there is very low probability for an established Latin translation. Therefore I will coin a new one.

There are a number of words one could use to translate "to deny". One is negare, but perhaps abiurare, "to deny any thing on oath", is a better fit in the present case. As a corpus search shows, it can be used transitively. Therefore something that can be denied on oath can be called abiurabilis, and the corresponding deniability is abiurabilitas.

Then it comes to finding a translation for "plausible". Pitkäranta's dictionary suggests probabilis, credibilis, fide dignus, and veri similis. The last option sounds a little off in this context, and judging by the entries for probabilis, credibilis, and fides leads me to think that fide dignus is the most appropriate choice here. It might be translated as "deserving of belief", and that is what "plausible" is all about in this phrase.

Putting these together, my suggestion is abiurabilitas fide digna.

However, if you want a single word, then I recommend abiurabilitas, "deniability on oath". I don't see how to add plausibility to the picture without adding a word. If three words is too much, I suggest abiurabilitas probabilis.

  • Thank you! (Sorry for the late response, I had stopped checking for answers.)
    – Awn
    Aug 22, 2017 at 8:18
  • @Awn No problem! It was a late answer, and there was no hurry. I'm glad to be able to help.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Aug 22, 2017 at 8:47

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.