As a good pessimist, I frequently wish to humorously convey extremely low probabilities. I'll often use the phrase "a snowball's chance in hell," or a variation of it, to express this:

There's a snowball's chance in hell that my candidate gets elected

There's a snowball's chance in the Sahara that my efforts accomplish anything

And so forth. Are there any common Latin expressions used for such situations? I'm particularly interested in phrases attested in Classical Latin.

I checked Wikipedia's list of Latin phrases but didn't find anything suitable.


Not being specially familiar with Classical works, I would use something in the line of VG Mt 19:24:

Facilius est camelum per foramen acus transire, quam divitem intrare in regnum Dei

It has been argued that the original Greek text may have used a slightly different image, but the surviving codices and those from which St. Jerome translated seem to put it that way. This means, at least, that the image was not too foreign at some point between the writing of the Septuagint and Jerome's translation. (And certainly become well known later).

Missing a more Classical or so-to-say pure Latin (as in more confidently not influenced by Greek or Hebrew) quote, I'd say facilius est camelum per foramen acus transire, quam [sth] or the inverse, difficilius est (e.g.) studium meum aliquod perficere quam camelum per foramen acus transire


It's notoriously difficult to find a precise classical equivalent for this kind of thing — though some apt examples certainly exist (caelum digito attingit for 'he's over the moon' is one such).

I think you might best translate it fairly simply. The meaning/intention behind sortem habet niviglobi Gehennae should be pretty obvious, after all!

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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