I was planning to enhance a bit my profile here, and I thought of using the default StackExchange message, only in Latin.

Google Translate turns the well known:

Apparently, this user prefers to keep an air of mystery about them.

into this:

Videtur quod hoc sacramentum ex aere, circa user potius ut per eas.

I understand the limitations of a tool like Google Translate and appreciate it for what it is, but, what would be a real translation of:

Apparently, this user prefers to keep an air of mystery about them.

I made some attempts of translating it by myself from the Google example, but the metaphor of "keep an air of mystery about" is just too much for me.

  • 4
    Recall the cardinal rule of (Latin) Google translate: uti est decipi.
    – brianpck
    Commented Apr 21, 2018 at 2:10

2 Answers 2


Google Translate is actually slightly less wrong than usual! It got "apparently" correct.

Off the top of my head, I would say:

Vidētur malle tenēre sibi auram mystēriōsam.
He/she seems to prefer to keep a mysterious air about him/her.

Vidētur is the passive of videt "he/she sees"; in the passive, it means "he/she seems". Malle means "to prefer" and takes an infinitive, tenēre means "to hold", sibi means "to him/herself".

I'm not fully happy with either of the last two words, though; I chose them to look similar to the English ones but the meanings aren't quite the same.

Auram is accusative of aura which is a Greek borrowing that literally means "breeze" (related to "air"). According to Lewis and Short it can also mean something closer to the English meaning of "aura".

And mystēriōsam is "pertaining to a mystērium", which originally meant a religious mystery (think the Eleysinian Mysteries) but later came to mean any secret thing. There are other words for "mysterious" that are closer to the English meaning, such as tenēbrōsus "shadowy", but all the ones I know have rather negative connotations.


If I may take some more freedom, I would like to use the verb cognoscere, meaning "to know", "to be acquainted with", "to identify", and similar.

Assuming I have understood correctly (which is not guaranteed by any means), the preferred classical adjective would be mysticus instead of mysteriosus, although both are clearly understandable. I also prefer the former one for brevity.

I would render "apparently" with apparet with an accusative and an infinitive. I think I currently favour the translation sodalis for "user" (there is an older question about users and accounts).

Combining these ideas leads me to:

Apparet hunc sodalem mystice cognosci malle.
This user seems to prefer beeing seen mysteriously.

Let me attempt to translate what Google Translate gave you back to English:

Videtur quod hoc sacramentum ex aere, circa user potius ut per eas.
It seems that this sacrament from air, around sodalis so that better you through go.

It is nonsensical in Latin, and I tried to keep the translation at the same level. I am reminded of English as she is spoke, which is usually not a good sign. There is also a whole question exploring the absurdity of Google Translate if you want details.

  • 1
    I have read Ben Kovitz answer, but I did not know about English As She Is Spoke. Reminds me of the Dirty Hungarian Phrasebook.
    – Rodia
    Commented Apr 21, 2018 at 13:31

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.