noli illegitimi carborundum

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Alternative forms[edit]

  • illegitimis non carborundum
  • nil illegitimi carborundum
  • non illegitimi carborundum
  • nil carborundum illegitimi
  • nil sine illegitimi carborundum
  • nolite te bastardes carborundum


Humorous pseudo-Latin, derived from noli (do not permit) [singular] and illegitimi (bastards) [in the wrong grammatical case] and from the Latinate English carborundum, a brand name for a silicon carbide abrasive.

This form of the saying was popularized in English by the US general "Vinegar Joe" Stilwell during World War II, reputed to have been taught it by British army intelligence. It later became the motto for the 1964 Republican presidential nominee Barry Goldwater, who displayed it as a sign in his senatorial office. The plural form nolite te bastardes carborundum was popularized by Margaret Atwood's 1985 dystopian novel The Handmaid's Tale and its subsequent TV adaptation.


noli illegitimi carborundum

  1. (humorous) Don't let the bastards grind you down