Friday, 15 November 2013

Brutum fulmen - Threat Level 'Yeah Right'

Smack talk, Brutum fulmen, Bruta fulmina
"Bring it on, finches! I has got mad ninja skillz and I will pwn your feathery behinds. Oh you think I'm smiling? You just come here and I'll ..."
(photo by Keith Roper)


Noun phrase. Plural bruta fulmina. Early 17th century.
[Latin, literally 'unfeeling thunderbolt' (Pliny).]

A mere noise; an ineffective act, an empty threat.

The ineffective nature of bruta fulmina has been discussed at length in my household, and it is my conviction that humans are hardwired to spot a brutum fulmen from a very early age. On car journeys, for example, my five-year-old daughter is completely unfazed by any threats to stop the vehicle, turn around and go home, or cancel the holiday for everyone. As if, Dad. However, a threat to ban treats for the rest of the day - reasonably and practically enforceable as it is - usually finds it's mark. Oh the joys of parenthood.

Brutum fulmen, Bruta fulmina
Every German getaway driver's nightmare.
(photo by Hellebardius)

Were your parents adept in the art of issuing bruta fulmina?

Do you know of a particularly vapid example of bruta fulmen?

Do please leave your most empty, impotent and unthreatening comments below.


  1. If the wind changes you'll stay that way....

    Trespassers will be prosecuted......

    Unattended bags will be removed and could be destroyed......

    You want the truth? You can't handle the truth.....

    Shut up - you had me at hello......

    (Sorry, what was the question again?)


    1. I had a rather delightful example of brutum fulmen just the other day when writing about 'brumal' - someone threatened to sneak up on me and bite me while I was sitting by my fire. Imagine that!

  2. Extol winter again, see what happens.


  3. Bye, we're leaving without you.
    Don't make me get the wooden spoon.
    Wait till your father gets home.
    Santa's watching.
    This is the last time I am going to ask you!

    Oh, and Ed, please do extol winter again! It really is a maligned season. :)

    1. There are bound to be more wintry posts coming, Jingles. I'm tingling with excitement : o )

  4. Doing that will make you go blind.

    1. Oh yeah ... my Mum was *always* saying that to me. As if jousting with fishing rods could ever do that ...

  5. Very similar to yours Ed. When we were kids messing about in the back seat of a car on long journeys my Mum would often say: "Right, that's it. Pull over. You can walk from here." This led to an initial "yeah right, as if. As if you'd let a 10 year old and a7 year old walk at least 50 miles on the side of a dangerous road, on their own, in the dark, in December, in the middle of winter which is obviously incredibly cold, wet, dark, dank, freezing, miserable, hopeless, pointless, horrid, depressing, morose, did I mention miserable?..."

    1. Sorry Ed. I think I may of drifted off topic. I think the November cold is affecting my synapses.

    2. Unless she wanted her sons to just enjoy the great outdoors during such a vibrant, invigorating season as winter, of course. Even then, though, probably not.