"is good" is fairly easy, some form of bŏnum with the verb of being, but I'm having more trouble with the word for "fun".

Part I: "Fun"

Lūdus was my first thought because it refers to play in the broadest sense, including play in the sense of acting, games, diversions, jokes, jests, and sports. But for that very reason, it may be over-broad in the sense that a play can be a drama, and sports can be serious.

So I spread my net wider, and looked at iocor, but I find it too limited, referring only to jokes and jests.

Moving into verb forms, oblecto, fruor, and gaudĕo, all seem closer to fun, connoting enjoyment and delight, but these are more obscure that ludus, and would render the Latin less accessible to those with an interest, but only basic vocabulary. Thus there is an tension between precision and comprehensibility.

Part II: Dr. Seuss

I'd also be very interested in peoples' thoughts on a Latinization of Dr. Seuss.

Medicus seems to physiological, connoting a surgeon, which I don't believe was Seuss' intent. I suspect the type of doctor Seuss' was whimsically indicating would be closer to a rhetor, but I'm unaware of an abbreviation.

The doctor part is not essential, and could be dropped, but a solid Latinization of Seuss is critical.

Any thoughts, perspectives are welcome, as well as proposed renderings as I don't have many excuses to exercise my Latin, which is limited in any case.


1 Answer 1


I suggest: Gaudium bono est, doctor Seuss.


I wanted to translate "fun" with a single short(ish) noun to keep the rhythm close to original. Changing to a verb would have felt too drastic, and, frankly, I think gaudium is a good general translation for "fun". It is related to the verb gaudere.

For more details on what gaudium means, see the entry in Lewis and Short. Part II of the entry is most relevant here, and it explicitly mentions that it can be used like the English "joy". For comparing different Latin words for "joy", see this question. If you decide to go with, say, laetitia instead, you can simply plug it into my suggestion.

When you say "X is Y" in Latin, both X and Y are in the nominative. Since the word order is pretty free, this leaves a lot of room for ambiguity. In addition, since bonum is an adjective and gaudium is neuter, you could parse gaudium bonum est as "this is good fun" or something similar. So there is a reason to avoid a simple nominative, but, again, it shouldn't be to heavy in Latin.

There is a construction known as the final dative (dativus finalis). There are even attestations of the very phrase bono est. You can translate gaudium bono est as "fun is (for) good" with or without the preposition. (Other examples of this structure: Hoc (nobis) usui est. Hoc nobis exemplo est.) This dative often comes with another dative, indicating the beneficiary. You could well say gaudium tibi bono est, "fun is good for you".

I would translate the title "doctor" as simply the Latin word doctor. Any doctor can be called doctor, but only someone holding a medical doctorate could be called medicus. As far as I know, the pen name is not trying to refer to the title of MD or similar, so doctor seems most appropriate. (I am sometimes referred to as Dr. Ilmavirta, and I would not allow translating the title as a medical one, even though the work leading to my doctorate has some medical applications.)

Names are often best left as they are. If there is no obvious way to Latinize it, my instinct is to do nothing. The authors of Nuntii Latini have a good rule of thumb: When first introducing a new person, the name is used in its original form, and if there is a Latinized version, it will be used subsequently after the person has been introduced.

It also depends on your need. If you need to decline the name, then you might want to do something. But even then, if you always use the word doctor with it, there's no need to decline the name at all.

And for what it might be worth, Vicipaedia leaves the name in its original form.

  • "Gaudium bono est" appears quite serviceable. Google translate renders it: "The joy is good", which I feel is very much in the spirit of the original. (Although unreliable, GT is likely the first stop for those without Latin trying to get at the meaning.) It seems the real problem is that "fun" is a squarely English word with no precedents prior to Middle English.
    – DukeZhou
    Commented Jul 13, 2017 at 23:18
  • 1
    @DukeZhou Google is often bad at interpreting cases, but the translation you got is good. // I decided to add a little note to my answer about translating "joy". Maybe I should also add that the L&S entry for gaudium states that it can be used like "joy".
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Commented Jul 13, 2017 at 23:54

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.