What Does Lorem Ipsum Mean?

What Does Lorem Ipsum Mean
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At some point in time, almost everyone has encountered text that reads Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet… It’s used all over the place and theories on what it is range from it being a secret illuminati code, to it being complete nonsense. Let’s explore.

What does Google Think?

Partly fuelling conspiracy theories was when you pasted the first few paragraphs of Lorem ipsum into Google Translate they translated it into English as nonsense but included words like China and Nato (for those concerned, instructions on crafting foil hats can be found here).

TechCruch picked this story up first and tweeted Google to ask them, this is what they said…

touché! but since then they’ve changed the algorithms to make it return the text almost as-is.

As readers of our blog will know, Google Translate is not the best place to get an accurate translation. It doesn’t actually translate the text, it searches for it online and returns what its database thinks is the equivalent in a different language. Sometimes this is just nonsense. Assume in this case someone had matched up lorem ipsum lorem ipsum with sexy sexy sexy sexy and it wasn’t until TechCrunch blogged about it they were able to manually override the database entry. Even in the example above it returns it as is with a strange amendment at the end. So let’s explore, what does it actually mean and is it actually nonsense?

Is Lorem Ipsum Nonsense?

Lorem ipsum might have been in use since the 1500s but it has definitely been in use since at least the 1960s. Back then veteran graphic designers used letraset sheets each of different fonts and font sizes to make up pages of type. Some of these sheets came with the Lorem ipsum passage on them.

It was made more popular in graphic design circles when DTP was born because it came installed with Aldus Pagemaker. In the advertising world, the copy is called greek text which is strange because it’s Latin.

The Latin in the text is actually derived from Cicero’s De finibus bonorum et malorum (On the ends of good and evil) and mixed in with the Platonism of Antiochus of Ascalon but it’s scrambled like an egg until only nonsense remains. So, sorry to say but yes, it is mostly nonsense. But let’s see if we can translate it.

The first few sentences are:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Nam hendrerit nisi sed sollicitudin pellentesque. Nunc posuere purus rhoncus pulvinar aliquam. Ut aliquet tristique nisl vitae volutpat. Nulla aliquet porttitor venenatis. Donec a dui et dui fringilla consectetur id nec massa. Aliquam erat volutpat. Sed ut dui ut lacus dictum fermentum vel tincidunt neque. 

It’s not possible to translate it, it’s mixed up copy. But the original passages do show through, so some translation is possible. Jaspreet Singh Boparai (a Cambridge University graduate) came up with the following translation:

Rrow itself, let it be sorrow; let him love it; let him pursue it, ishing for its acquisitiendum. Because he will ab hold, unless but through concer, and also of those who resist. Now a pure snore disturbeded sum dust. He ejjnoyes, in order that somewon, also with a severe one, unless of life. May a cusstums offficer somewon nothing of a poison-filled. Until, from a twho, twho chaffinch may also pursue it, not even a lump. But as twho, as a tank; a proverb, yeast; or else they tinscribe nor. 

Still garbage, but at least you now know what you’ve been pasting in all this time.

Lorem Ipsum Resources

Here’s a great tip if you’re using MS Word and need some dummy copy. Type this into word…


and as if by magic 58 words of lorem ipsum appear.

The command can be modified. If you include numbers in the brackets the first one tells Word how many paragraphs you want and the second is the number of sentences in each paragraph. For instance, if you type =lorem(4,5) you get 4 paragraphs each one with 5 sentences. It might actually be my all-time favourite features of Word.

There are other ways to generate the copy. Such as 3rd party plugins for Adobe’s products, Firefox, WordPress and there are lots of websites. Here are my favourite ones.


I use this one all the time and have done for years. Its great. All you need to do is tell it how many words, paragraphs, bytes or even lists (which returns a bulleted list). Hit ‘generate lorem ipsum’ and copy and paste into your layout of choice.


We use this one to help us creating HTML with lorem ipsum in it, which is exactly what this page does. It gives you copy with the HTML already wrapped around it, great for a number of scenarios.


As the website says… ‘in an ideal world this website wouldn’t exist because your clients would supply the content’. But it’s not an ideal world and they don’t which is why this will help. It gives you industry-specific dummy copy which you can copy-paste into your layouts. A great starting point to demo your layouts without spending too much time on content. If you use lorem ipsum in your mockups I guarantee that you will get clients who say, “like the design but WTF is that gibberish”. The only problem is when the client likes the fake content,  you have to explain to them that they can’t actually use it : )


Love this. A complete alternative using a mixture of hipster and Latin. Type the number of paragraphs you need, make sure to select ‘hipster with a shot of Latin’ and click beer me. You’ll get copy like this… Elit consectetur listicle Schlitz umami chia 3 wolf moon viral cred, Echo Park health goth street art nesciunt brunch fingerstache. Authentic narwhal disrupt, leggings shabby chic VHS iPhone officia. Client satisfaction guaranteed.

So there you go. You now know where lorem ipsum came from, why it’s so popular and how to generate it for your own layout projects. Please leave me a comment, it lets me know you’re alive. Writing about lorem ipsum is a lonely business and before I forget if you need to know what something else means in a different language we have a comprehensive document translation service for all your literary needs!