If you’ve been active on social media recently, you may have come across the widely circulated assertion that the word “child abuse” may be derived from the Latin spelling of “homework” in reverse. In recent times, this assertion has been widely disseminated, garnering thousands of views on platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, and YouTube.
But does “krowemoh” actually come from the Latin language, or is it just a random assortment of letters? This is how we checked the facts about it.
How Does This Trend Begin?
Reuters has traced the origin of this assertion to a tweet published on March 17, 2013; this tweet was apparently issued as a joke. In 2021, when this statement is made, some online sources will link to a screenshot of this tweet from a Google search.
So basically "Homework"spelled backwards is "krowemoh"which in Latin translates to "child abuse"
— mal (@mallorymac97) March 18, 2013
One further supposed meaning for “krowemoh” was found by searching the user’s Twitter feed for the phrase “Latin”: “”Homework” spelled backward is “krowemoh” Which in Latin translates to “I’d rather be fed to a pack of hungry lions than do this”, she tweeted here.
"Homework" spelled backwards is "krowemoh"
Which in Latin translates to "I'd rather be fed to a pack of hungry lions than do this"
— mal (@mallorymac97) February 26, 2013
Some variants include a screen grab of the “krowemoh” item on the user-generated dictionary website Urban Dictionary as proof. An article from 2018 explains how the site’s lack of style guides, editors, or moderators can lead to “vague and erroneous” content.
Does Homework Spelled Backward Mean Child Abuse in Latin?
Since at least March 2013, people have been spreading the falsehood that the reversal of the letters in the word “homework” spells “child abuse” in Latin.
This assertion is clearly false. In Latin, there is no equivalent to the term “krowemoh.” There was no letter “W” in the Latin alphabet, which only had 22 other symbols. By the sixth century A.D., regional dialects that eventually evolved into the Romance languages of Europe had largely displaced Latin, the language of the Roman Empire and the Catholic Church.
Since the Latin alphabet lacked a character to represent the sound /w/ used in Germanic and old English, a form of the letter W was initially used around the year 700 AD. To get around this problem, authors started writing “uu” (or “vv,” since u and v represented the same character in the traditional Latin alphabet) to indicate the /w/ sound. Common use of the letter we now know as “W” did not occur until the 1500s, long after people began coining new words in Latin.
Thus, “krowemoh” is not a word, and it does not signify “child abuse” in Latin or any other language we are familiar with.
What Do Other Sources Claim?
A quick Google search yielded multiple articles and a fact check from Snopes that all systematically disproved this story. Since the letter W does not appear in Latin, Snopes concludes that “krowemoh” is not a Latin word.
This claim can be verified in a number of other ways, including by using Google Translate or a Latin dictionary available online. When I looked up “krowemoh” in a Latin dictionary, I got nothing. The Latin term for child abuse is translated into something entirely different when using Google Translate.
What Does it mean in Urban Dictionary?
In case you were wondering, “krowemoh” has multiple entries in Urban Dictionary. The best definition was published on January 6 by a person going by the name Sherli Damelio. Therein lies the rub with using Urban Dictionary as a reference: any internet user can add a definition.
For those unfamiliar with it, Urban Dictionary can be thought of as Merriam-rebellious Webster’s younger sibling. What are the most significant distinctions between them? Urban Dictionary does not rely on expert editors to define terms; rather, the entire project is driven by contributions from the general public. The website’s primary function is to provide explanations of slang terms and expressions.