I am just curious what a phrase "e pluribus smart assimus" means.

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    I am curious: Where did you come across that phrase? – Joonas Ilmavirta Aug 19 at 8:36
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    @JoonasIlmavirta Twitch.tv chat :D, someone joked on this topic and everyone seemed like they know what it is all about. I didnt want to look stupid, so I asked here. – Penny Dreadful Aug 20 at 9:59
  • Thanks! Can you edit your question to add that background in? No matter how unreliable, unscientific and unanything it is, the source of the phrase does make a question more interesting. – Joonas Ilmavirta Aug 20 at 17:27
up vote 16 down vote accepted

This is dog Latin for "out of many come smartasses" (or "a smartass"). It's modelled off the phrase ē pluribus unum, "out of many [comes] one", which is printed on American currency, plus the fake Latin smart-assimus for "smartasses". The -us is typically a singular ending, but is also commonly used to create dog Latin in general.


As a side note, while "smart" of course isn't Latin, assimus is a real word: it's the first person plural present active subjunctive of adsum/assum, "to be present". So assimus means "let's go be there!" But that's certainly not what the author of this phrase intended.

  • This is right; except why do you translate smart assimus as plural? If it's a noun, as it's intended to be, it looks more like a singular (2nd decl.). – LarsH Aug 19 at 9:49
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    @LarsH Mostly because the plural seems to make more sense in the context of the joke; I'm not sure the writer knew second-declension endings. (If they did, I wouldn't expect -imus as the ending at all.) – Draconis Aug 19 at 15:43
  • Maybe, but a lot of people who know practically no Latin know that -i is the plural of -us in Latin loan words. Also I don't see why the singular makes less sense in the context of this joke. – LarsH Aug 20 at 2:50
  • @LarsH Fair, added a note – Draconis Aug 20 at 2:56

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