Confodite Cornua!

How would the Romans have said “Hook ’em Horns”?

Confodite Cornua!

Among the many talents of Ward Farnsworth, dean of UT’s School of Law, is a prodigious knowledge of Latin. As an affectionate tribute to the late Hook ’em Horns sign co-creator Harley Clark, BA ’57, MA ’60, LLB ’62, Life Member, Farnsworth recently decided to translate every Longhorn’s most beloved phrase into Latin. Here is his thorough investigation:

The Latin word for “horn” is cornu. Thus the word unicorn (“one horn”); and if you combine cornu with copiae, the root of the English word “copious,” then you get the word cornucopia, which means “horn of plenty.” Or pair it with caper (“goat”) and you have the constellation Capricorn—horned like a goat.

In Latin, the function of a word depends on its ending. To express the idea that something is being done with horns, we would say cornibus.

Cornua is the vocative plural form of the same noun, used when one is addressing two or more of something (in this case, horns).

Then for the verb: Our investigation of Horace and Virgil suggests confodio, which means “pierce,” “stab,” or “run through.” If we put the verb in its imperative form—a command—it would be confodite.

Link these elements together and we have Confodite cornibus, Cornua! It literally means “Stick them with your horns, Horns!” Or more simply, “Hook ’em Horns!” The shorter Confodite Cornua! is more succinct (“run them through, Horns!”), though the three-word version is more parallel with the three-word English original and it looks better around a seal. In short, either is fine.

Confodite Cornua!

This story first appeared in UT Law.


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