"Illegitimis non carborundum"(Phrase Origins)
Yes, this means "Don't let the bastards grind you down", but it is not real Latin; it is a pseudo-Latin joke. "Carborundum" is a trademark for a very hard substance composed of silicon carbide, used in grinding. (The name "Carborundum" is a blend of "carbon" and "corundum". "Corundum" denotes aluminium oxide, and comes to English from Tamil _kuruntam_; it is related to Sanskrit _kuruvinda_ = "ruby".) "The "-ndum" ending suggests the Latin gerundive, which is used to express desirability of the activity denoted by the verb, as in _Nil desperandum_ = "nothing to be despaired of"; _addendum_ = "(thing) fit to be added"; _corrigendum_ = "(thing) fit to be corrected"; and the name Amanda, from _amanda_ = "fit to be loved"). _Illegitimis_ is the dative plural of _illegitimus_ = "illegitimate"; the gerundive in Latin correctly takes the dative to denote the agent. _Illegitimus_ could conceivably mean "bastard" in Latin, but was not the usual word for it: _Follett World-Wide Latin Dictionary_ (Follett, 1967) gives _nothus homo_ for bastard of known father, and _spurius_ for bastard of unknown father. The phrase seems to have originated with British army intelligence early in World War II. It was popularized when U.S. general Joseph W. "Vinegar Joe" Stilwell (1883-1946) adopted it as his motto. Various variant forms are in circulation.
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