Fact Check

'Nickelodeon' Is Latin for 'I Don't Care About God'?

"Using Google Translate" and "seeing for yourself" only works in cases like this if you also have your critical-thinking cap on.

Published March 29, 2024

 (TikTok user @AnimeBibleVerse, X user @AnimeBibleVerse, Google Inc., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)
Image Via TikTok user @AnimeBibleVerse, X user @AnimeBibleVerse, Google Inc., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Claim:
The word "Nickelodeon" means "I don't care about God" in Latin.

In March 2024, a meme went viral on X (formerly Twitter), claiming that "Nickelodeon" is the Latin translation of the English phrase, "I don't care about God." The image was also shared on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok. "Use Google translate and see for yourself," one Instagram post with the image read

The rumor spread in the aftermath of the premiere of "Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV," a "docu-series that uncovers the toxic culture behind some of the most iconic children's shows of the late 1990s and early 2000s." As The Guardian review of the documentary informed, the "'in plain sight'" moments in the series are clips from Nickelodeon shows that "repeatedly featured underage performers in bikinis or leotards, or having jets of water or thin stripes of goo squirted into their faces."

(X user @AnimeBibleVerse)

We found that the same rumor was spread in 2023 via TikTok and Instagram posts linking it to Illuminati conspiracy theories.

Snopes found that "Nickelodeon" is not, in fact, a genuine Latin translation of the phrase "I don't care about God." We have rated the claim as "False."

To begin with, whoever created the viral image broke up the name "Nickelodeon" into arbitrary segments divided by spaces, so that Google Translate would interpret it as a phrase instead of a single word. When we performed our own Google Translate search of "nic kelo deo" on March 29, 2024, the English translation in fact read "I don't care about God." However, when we clicked on the English translation of the phrase, Google Translate indicated that in Latin it would be rather "Non curat de Deo." 

(Google Translate Screenshots)

We tried looking up different variations of the alleged Latin sentence via Google Translate website. For instance, when we entered "nic kelo deo n" (including an extra "n" at the end), the translation into English remained unchanged as "nic kelo deo n." Furthermore, translating the phrase "I don't care about God" from English into Latin showed the result "Non curat de Deo."

(Google Translate)

What's more, when we searched for "nic" and "kelo," Google Translate the results read "nothing" and "kelo." However, Online Latin Dictionary did not show any results when we searched for "nic" or "kelo." 

(www.online-latin-dictionary.com)

We have reached out to Google for a comment on the matter and will update the article if/when we receive a response.

Etymonline, an online etymology dictionary, explained that the word "Nickelodeon" derived from a combination of the word "nickel," a five-cent coin, and the Greek word "odeion," meaning a music hall. 

1888 as the name of a theater in Boston; by 1909 as "a motion picture theater," from nickel "five-cent coin" (the cost to view one) + -odeon, as in Melodeon (1840) "music hall," ultimately from Greek oideion "building for musical performances" (see odeon). Meaning "nickel jukebox" is first attested 1938.

In December 2022, we debunked a similar false rumor, claiming that "Balenciaga" was Latin for "Baal is king."

Sources

Nickelodeon | Etymology of Nickelodeon by Etymonline. https://www.etymonline.com/word/nickelodeon. Accessed 28 Mar. 2024.

ONLINE LATIN DICTIONARY. https://www.online-latin-dictionary.com/. Accessed 28 Mar. 2024.

Palma, Bethania. "No, 'Baal Enci Aga' Doesn't Mean 'Baal Is King' in Latin." Snopes, 7 Dec. 2022, https://www.snopes.com//fact-check/balenciaga-baal-is-king-latin/.

Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV. Business Insider, Maxine Productions, Sony Pictures Television, 2024.

Seale, Jack. "Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV Review – How on Earth Was This Stuff Ever Broadcast?" The Guardian, 25 Mar. 2024. The Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2024/mar/25/quiet-on-set-the-dark-side-of-kids-tv-review-how-on-earth-was-this-stuff-ever-broadcast.

Aleksandra Wrona is a reporting fellow for Snopes, based in the Warsaw area.