I’d read, heard and seen this funny phrase posted across the internet for years (most commonly phrased as ‘Illegitimi non carborundum‘), attributed to both Margaret Atwood (in the Handmaid’s Tale) and historical figures alike, but it was only when I was putting together this post that I discovered the phrase itself is actually a fake!
The latin it’s supposedly made up of is non-sensical, and actually a pun. Carborundum is actually the industrial name for silicon carbide. And neither bastardes nor illegitimi is correct latin for bastards. This says something more along the lines of ‘the illegitimates are not silicon carbide’ or ‘the illegitimate do not have silicon carbide’, depending on which version of the phrase you see.
Somewhere along the way, this pseudo-latin became a pop culture joke and widely used, so much so that several legitimate organizations now use it as their official slogan (with ‘Don’t let the bastards grind you down’ as the corresponding English), despite it not being the least bit correct. It’s a pretty hilarious twist of history and even if the latin is a bit murky, ‘Don’t let the bastards grind you down’ is still a great personal slogan.
Let’s start the New Year off by kicking ass and not letting other people get the better of you.
To read more about the history of this fun quote, look here.