Here is a complete reference of typical sayings in The Handmaid's Tale.
Sayings in Gilead
- “Under His Eye” - Intended for saying hello or goodbye. Refers to the belief that God is always watching. Also believed to be a reference to the undercover Guardians or "Eyes" stationed all over Gilead.
- "Blessed day/evening" - the Gilead alternative to saying "good morning/afternoon" or "good evening".
- “Praise be” - said when you’re glad or thankful about something, like the weather or a pregnancy. Shortened version of commonly used biblical phrase, "Praise be to Thee/God."
- “Blessed be the fruit” - the typical greeting to a Handmaid in Gilead. The phrase also has biblical ties to encouraging fertility.
- “May the Lord open” - the classic response to “blessed be the fruit.” It also suggests that they’re praying for God to bring fertility to the Handmaid - asking God to "open" the Handmaid's womb to a new soul.
- "We've been sent good weather" - one of the few small talk phrases Handmaids are allowed, typically used while on their shopping excursions. The proper reply is "Which I receive with joy" or "praise be."
- "Godspeed" - an expression of good wishes to a person starting a journey. Example: "Godspeed, June." Used by a Martha helping June and baby Nicole escape Gilead in Season 2 finale "The Word" 2x13.
- “Nolite te bastardes carborundorum” - is a mock-Latin aphorism, translated as 'Don't let the bastards grind you down'. The phrase itself has no meaning in Latin and can only be mock-translated as a Latin-English pun. This phrase was found carved into a closet in the Waterford household, presumably by a previous handmaid before June.