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  5. Habito vs Vivo


Habito vs Vivo

So, a few users (or perhaps one very dedicated one) has regularly attempted to supply forms of vivere to live in place of habitare to live (in a place).

I checked the OLD because the constant pushing of the answer made me curious, I found that 9/10 senses of the verb make no mention of place of residence. The 10th and final sense, does "To spend one's life (in the company of a person, in a place, etc.)."

This is compared to 3/5 of habitare's definitions including "To live in, inhabit. (of inhabited buildings, etc.). (fig. or transf., of inanim. and non-material things)." and "(intr.) To live, dwell (in a place). (fig. or transf., of inanim. and non-material things)." and even "(hyperb.) To spend all one's time, 'live' (in a place). (in an occupation or study)."

While both translate loosely to 'live' vivere refers to living and breathing, hence vivisection, vivacious, viva Las Vegas, etc. Meanwhile, habitare gives rise to habitual, inhabit, habitat.

So in conclusion, please don't jump to the most literal possible translation, because often times, Latin doesn't work like that.

Gratias vobis ago,


September 25, 2019



There are other finesses too.. Urbs (urbs, urbem, urbis, urbi, urbe..) should refer solely to Rome only. Studere actually means 'to be enthusiastic about', it really is not the same as English 'to study' but it is because Romans didn't generally learn the same way modern people do. But let's be practical, it would get too complex not to expand the semantic fields to meet the modern concepts as well; all the modern languages as well have been created by corrupting the past ones.


True. I'm still trying to figure out if "ipsulum" would be the correct classical Latin translation of "selfie".


Latin is not just classical Rome.

And even already in Plautus: haec urbs Epidamnus est


Urbs can refer to Roma, but does not do so solely.

From the OLD "A city, large town (either as a place or as a politcal entity). (w. name of city expr. in various ways). -bs -bium, a chief city, capital."


thanks for this precision...


This is like Esperanto vivi (Latin vivere) and loĝi (Latin habitare).


It's rather an English problem. Many languages make a difference between habitare and vivere. In Dutch habitare means wonen and vivere leven. 'Ik leef in de stad' (In urbe vivo) has a totally different meaning than 'Ik woon in de stad' (In urbo habito).


English has other words that more closely match "habito" and "wonen," but a native speaker (at least in the U.S.) is just far more likely to use "live."

reside (more likely to be found in a police or government report than used in everyday speech)

dwell (found in the Bible but not heard a lot on the street)


Hence, some English speakers may mistake living for just another habit.


BasJongene et Widle, gratias vobis ago.


"Many languages make a difference between habitare and vivere"

In French too : habiter and vivre. You can often put vivre for habiter : je vis à Bordeaux = j'habite à Bordeaux. But not in the other sense : je vis à cent à l'heure (I live very fastly) ; it is impossible to say : j'habite à cent à l'heure, it would mean nothing.


You beat me to it.


I'd just like to point out that this most likely isn't how "Latin works" but how "English works", using the same word for two different meanings. (Sure, having two meanings to the same word is pretty common in languages, but it might cause confusion, like here.)

Those few languages I know apart from English (Czech, German, Finnish) use separate words for these two meanings.


In this case, surely there are two potential workarounds. The first is to accept the answers as an acceptable, if not ideal, translation. This is probably itself best - because if we're going to get really picky about Latin, we can be. Urbs should only refer to Rome itself. Studere doesn't translate to 'study' as we know it in English.

The other is to use a different term in English to hammer home the difference. We have words like reside and dwell which, whilst archaic, clarify this confusion. Bemoaning achaic language seems pointless when the language is Latin!


I think it's not new learners getting confused. It's people with some Latin experience (given that we never offered vivere, up to this point in the course) who are trying to use the word incorrectly. We could potentially add dwell, which takes a LOT of work to implement course wide. But I think it's an important realization that new Latinists need to come upon. Latin is NOT English, words in Latin can have very specific meanings. Also, please see my above comment about urbs.


What is your source that urbs is Rome only? Papualaisooppera says the same, but firstly, Latin is not just classical Rome, and secondly even Plautus refers to other cities using this verb.


Urbs is not a verb though

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