Would-be Latin

GENIBUS NITITO CANUS snapshot from WWE SummerSlam on Premiere (German PayTV/PPV)In the “Biggest Party of the Summer”, as the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) advertised its big PPV SummerSlam last Sunday – which, in my opinion, was rather mediocre –, in his long-awaited return, Triple H, “The Game”, “King Of Kings”, appeared with a Latin sentence on the video wall:


which (also according to the official results page) is supposed to mean “On your knees, dog!” Now I don’t claim to be a Latin expert – after 16 years after school, my Latin is quite rusty – but I still can see (and research a little) that there’s something wrong. Let’s have a closer look (source: a Langenscheidt dictionary German–Latin plus my translation):

genibus: dative or ablative plural of genu:

Knee n genu n; flex one’s ~s genua flectere (or submittere); (before the king) genua ponere regi; fall on one’s ~s in genus procumbere; (before the king) procumbere ad genua regis, accidere genibus regis; lie on one’s ~s ad genua [regis] iacēre, supplicem esse [regi]

nitito: probably taken from nītor, nīxus & nīsus sum, used in connection with genu like this:

kneel genibus nixum esse, in genua procumbere (procubuisse)

(The imperative should rather be taken from esse, though… nitito is certainly wrong.) Alberto’s comment probably provides a better explanation.

canus: correct would be canis m f dog, canus doesn’t exist (as case of canis, that is; cānus would mean grey, elderly, venerable; grey hair).

Ergo: If the WWE must have a Latin sentence there, they should have done it properly…

(Should I be wrong in some place, don’t hesitate to correct me. :mrgreen: )

Update: (Not every visitor will want to read through all of it… so:) To sum up the results so far from the experts in the comments (vielen Dank e mille grazie!):

An apparently correct phrase is GENIBUS NITERE, CANIS (the comma is not mandatory).

Update 2: In the meantime, WWE has corrected the clear mistake “Canus”, also the WWE shop shows T-shirts with “Canis“.

1 Trackback

  1. A

    Nìtor, eris, nisus (nixus) sum, niti is “deponente”, II declination.

    They have probably forgot that. Nitito seems to be future imperative from normal verbs, III declination. (-ito, -ito, -itote, -unto)

    I guess probably they wanted to say: “you’ll get on your knees, dog!”

    What do you think? Besides someone there should study latin something more? :lol:

  2. c

    Well, they certainly must have mixed something up that they didn’t know enough about…

    HHH’s Motörhead song “King Of Kings” contains “On your knees, dog”, and the WWE page I linked to says

    For your information, Triple H’s Latin text, “Genibus Nitito Canus,” translates to “On Your Knees, Dog.”

    so that’s quite likely what they originally meant – given that they got canis wrong, I wouldn’t assume any future expression was intentional…

  3. A

    Well, if they provides even translation then there’s no doubt they didn’t want any future expression.

    I’ve looked around to find an alternative form for canis,is since happened to find some -us desinence for 3rd decliation in some old latin texts (before 100ac). However i found.. nihil.. :lol:

    I guess we should donate all to buy an English-Latin dictionary for thoose people. And probably an Italian-English dictionary for me. :?

  4. c

    Oh, I’ve read worse English from Englishmen & Americans than from you…

    Mister McMahon has enough money for quite a few dictionaries and evening language classes – even though he might be a tightwad, I wouldn’t make a donation to his people. :mrgreen:

  5. B

    allright, I thik this statement is full of mistakes!
    a) dog = Canis -> canus = adjective meaning white/ gray/ gray-haired and metaphorically “old”
    b) nitito: I guess it is supposed to be a form of the verb nitare, 1st pers sg ind. pres. nitor (=> this is a so-called deponent, i.e. a verb with a passive form but an active-meaning) = to lean/ to base oneself on/ to straighten up/ to gain a foothold/ to be in labour/ to rely on
    the imperative sg. would be “nitare”, the imperative pl. “nitamini” (I AM NOT SURE ABOUT THE IMPERATIVE FORM OF A DEPONENTE, MIGHT ALSO BE “NIXUS ESSE”!)
    c) Genibus could either be the dative or ablative plural of genu, -us = knee. Here it should be the ablative = on the knees/ to the knees

    ==> I guess they actually meant: “bow down on your knees, dog!” but came up with gibberish, something like “stem (can’t determine a person as the verb is incorrect) on knees white”. it should be: “Genibus nitare/ nitamini, canis/ canes!” = “lean/ steam yourself on your knees, dog/ dogs!”
    even better might be: “Genus flecte/ flectete, canis/ canes!” = “Bend your knees, dog/ dogs!” or “Ad Genibus (tuis/ vestris) inclina/ inclinate, canis/ canes!” = “Bow down to (your) kness, dog/ dogs!”

    –> this counts at least for classical Latin, I am not sure about medieval Latin, but can’t see an explanation, why this sentence could in any way be correct even in Med. Lat.

    ==> I guess, WWE copied that from somewhere without checking… No offense, but Americas are not exactely famous for being fluent in foreign languages, especially Latin…

    I hope, I could help. As Latin is a very complicated language, I am not sure, if I am a 100% right (especially as English is not my first language, I am German), but I tried my best and double ckecked everything ;-)

  6. c


    I hope they don’t start to speak that sentence – on the other hand, canis and canus probably sound basically the same in “English Latin”… ;) (note that what us Germans learn at school isn’t exactly how Caesar & co. probably spoke, either – but it’s closer…)

  7. B

    have to correct my own statement: I think, the infinitive is “niti” (I only “constructed” nitAre from the 1st person form) imperative should be “nitire” (sg.) or “nitimini”… I am still not sure though, f****** deponentes!

  8. k

    Als Lateinstudent im dritten Semester danke ich dir für die Aufklärung dieses Verbrechens an der lateinischen Sprache ;)

    Wenn ich mich nicht gänzlich täusche, müsste es (wenn man diese Wörter verwenden will) wohl “Genibus nitere canis” heißen, wobei ich mir echt nicht sicher bin.
    Habe mir gedacht, dass der Imperativ von “nitor” so gebildet werden muss wie der von “uti”, der ja “utere” heißt. Und er Vocativ von “canis” müsste wieder “canis” lauten. Das “genibus” ist glaub ich so schon richtig verwendet.

    Ceterum: Zum Stichwort “englisches Latein” – es gibt da einen Podcast, dort liest ein Amerikaner mit offenbar asiatischem Migrationshintergund de bello gallico vor… ich konnte es mir keine Minute anhören. ;)

  9. c

    Ich glaub, dann verzichte ich darauf, nach dem Link für den Podcast zu fragen ;)


    Something else: The font they are using looks to me rather old-english/gaelic/celtic (especially due to the shape of T and U) than old roman (MyFonts.com has a nice search) – on the other hand, the font somehow matches HHH’s “barbarian king” styling…

  10. B

    hab noch ne Liste mit Deponentien gefunden (http://www.mbradtke.de/wk001.htm), leider bin ich mir wegen des Vokals zwischn Wortstamm und Imperativ-Endung (-re oder -mini) immernoch nich ganz sicher… aber das is ja eigentlich auch das kleinste Problem, glaub auch nich ganz, dass niti das richtige Verb für diesen Kontext is (steht zwar mit genibus im Stowasser, aber nich, ob das knien oder verbeugen heißt…)

  11. c

    If you google for that phrase with restriction to the last 3, 6, and 12 months, the (approximate) number of results stays basically the same. So it must be rather new and not copied from something older.

    (Had they racked their brains over that before as we do now… :) )

    By the way: if you want to write in German and English (showing the visitors only their selected language), do it like this:

    [lang_de]Dieser Text erscheint nur bei deutscher Einstellung.[/lang_de]
    [lang_en]This text only appears in English language setting.[/lang_en]
    Text außerhalb erscheint immer / text outside appears always.

  12. A

    Hi bob.

    I have to correct you a little. Nit- is the radix of the verb.
    Imperative form should be Nitere or Nitemini (too bad we cant use real latin accents. The correct way to read it is Nitère, Nitèmini since second declination of deponent has an easy accent to the i of -emini )
    Nitare is totally wrong since we’re talking of II Deponent Declination and not first.

    Nixus (nisus) Esse is the past infinitive form. It’s difficult to translate it in english, since verbs declination in english is totally different.

    a) well.. first Nitor requires ablative. (Muliericula nixus, Cic.)
    Since genu,us is Neutral, it’s genibus.
    b)Canis is IIId declination, II group (as civis,is). Though i won’t use canis as Nominative but as vocative (and i think they wanted too. Pretending to use canis as subject, would mean putting it between genibus and nitito). The comma should give it the right felession.
    c)Nitere: well canis is vocative, singular. Then imperative singular IInd person is nitere.

    To say: on your knees dog, i would say:
    genibus nitere, canis.

    Ofcourse my latin is little.. unused nowadays, then subject to some mistakes.

  13. B

    @ Alberto
    thx for helping me out, I just didn’t know which vowel belonged between the stem and the ending. I discovered a page, which didn’t give me a 100% clear answer, but “e” sounds good! As we agreed on the other two words, the MUST be correct ;-) and like you, I also inserted a comma, even though that’s not classical, but at least it underlines the vocative (which could be confused with a nominative).

  14. C

    Ha. After trying to figure out what all this is about and what “Genibus Nitito Canis” means, I have come to a realization. Never in my life have I been a fan of HHH because of his classical education. The WWE is a smashmouth place and I doubt they are overly concerned with this small mistake in an area far outside their realm of expertise. If HHH wants to wear a shirt with his own variation of Latin all over it, I’m fine with that. I definetly won’t be the one to walk right up and sharpie in the proof readings for him. Lol! Plus, how twisted does that shirt look? I would wear it even if it said, “I R REEL GOOD READ’R”

  15. J

    Actually, if my source is correct, the phrase would be
    “in vestri genibus canis”=”on your knees, dog”
    because im pretty sure NITERE means SHINING or GLITTERING
    but i could be wrong

  16. c

    With a long “e” – in dictionarys usually written nitēre – yes, that’s “to shine, glitter”. But this is “nitere” with short “e”s…

    “in vestri…” might still be another correct way to say it, of course.

  17. canus = alt , ehrwürdig , oder (farblich) grau
    genibus nitito canus = beuge die knie alter (?)

    man sollte wohl nicht alles wörtlich übersetzen sonst regnet es ja in good old england wirklich “hunde und katzen” !

    mfg Triple H 8)

  18. :roll: :roll: I agree with CHSisko, I think the shirt looks pretty cool, and the (what apparantly should be) Latin is just as cool. Everyone is spending far to much time worrying about something which the WWE probably didn’t spend to much time researching as they are more interested in the fans enjoying themselves!!

  19. doofusssssssssss!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :mrgreen:

  20. TH

    Ey weisst du was des ist doch WURST das der Spruch falsch ist. Hauptsache The Game ist back. Ist doch egal ob Genibus Nitito Canus oder Genibus Niter Canis.

    Hauptsach ist das Triple H den Kampf gewonnen hat und es ihm gut geht nach dr schweren Verletzung(Quadrizepsriss im Rechtenoberschenkel)

    :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil:

  21. NC

    oink …. nu ja ist fast wie der satz “diekuh renntum seerum”

    der richtigkeit am nähesten liegt GENIBUS NITERE CANIS,wobei es darauf ankommt wer es ausspricht und zu wem (Herr zum Untergebenen etc.) 8)

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