This Nickelodeon Conspiracy Theory Has Reddit Shaking Its Head

Is Nickelodeon trying to brainwash your children with anti-Christian messaging? Not so fast. Google Translate made a mistake and rumors started.

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Feb. 19 2024, Published 10:28 p.m. ET

The Nickelodeon logo on a cell phone screen
Source: Getty Images

What does Nickelodeon mean in Latin? Well, nothing, strictly speaking. But if you lop off the last “n” and break the remainder into three chunks and run those through Google Translate, you have what conspiracy theorists claim is proof of some sort of effort to corrupt children.

There are tons of Twitter posts and TikTok videos calling out this purported conspiracy, but on Reddit, users are ridiculing the Nickelodeon theory, debunking it like a similar theory about Balenciaga was debunked in 2022.

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After a Reddit user raised the Nickelodeon theory — and told others to “protect your kids” from the channel — a commenter wrote, “You have fallen for one of the stupidest boogeyman stories imaginable.”

Another commenter said, “Words like ‘nickelodeon’ and proper names like ‘Balenciaga’ have nothing to do with atheism or satanism. In both cases, you’re misspelling the word anyway. You can’t just whack off an entire letter of a word and then try to claim that it has some hidden satanic meaning.”

This Nickelodeon theory claims the channel name means “I don’t care about God” in Latin.

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As social media users have pointed out, using Google Translate to translate the phrase “nic kelo deo” from Latin to English does result — at the time of this writing, at least — in the translation “I don’t care about God.”

But that translation appears to be a fluke. Using Google Translate to translate “I don’t care about God” from English to Latin results in the phrase “Non curo Deum.”

Furthermore, a Latin-to-English translation of “nic kelo deo” on Translate.com results in the phrase “God bless you.”

One Reddit user wrote: “‘Kelere’ isn’t a Latin word. It might be ‘celo,’ which means ‘I hide.’ And ‘Deus’ would have to be in the accusative case as it would be the direct object, so it would be ‘deum.’ ‘Deo’ is the dative/ablative which would be either the indirect object or for moving away from something. Like, you could, in theory, translate it as ‘nec celo deo’ which would be ‘I don’t hide from God,’ but even that is a stretch.”

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But the etymology of “Nickelodeon” tells a different story.

Nickelodeons were early motion-pictured theaters that got their name because it only cost a nickel to see a movie, per the Encyclopedia Britannica. (What a bargain!)

As the Online Etymology Dictionary notes, the word nickelodeon is a combination of the word nickel and a derivation of the Greek word ōideion, which refers to a building for musical performances.

A similar conspiracy theory surrounded Balenciaga.

In 2022, as the luxury fashion house Balenciaga faced other controversies, Snopes debunked a social-media claim that “Baal enci aga” is Latin for “Baal is king” if you add an extra “a,” with Baal being the name of an ancient Canaanite god of fertility. As the fact-checking site pointed out, Google Translate did indeed churn out that translation, but “Baal enci aga” isn’t actually a Latin phrase.

And as proof of how wacky Google’s Latin-to-English translation can be, Snopes also found that the web translator converted “Biden enci aga” to “Go ahead and do it,” “Donald enci aga” to “Don’t act like a king,” and “Snopes enci aga” to “Go to Snopes.”

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