1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Latin
  4. >
  5. 'Latinizing' Modern Words/Con…


'Latinizing' Modern Words/Concepts

Hey folks! So glad Duolingo added Latin to it -- it's my favorite language by far and I'm pretty impressed with how its worked for me!

One thing that struck me immediately was its use of modern cities (e.g. Philadelphia, Boston(ia), etc.) and concepts, which was of course incredibly interesting and a fantastic way to provide a sense of modernism to these translations.

(One small one, for example, that I truly appreciated, was "The man has a husband"; a small touch, but touching nonetheless!)

I'm curious if anyone else has tried to 'Latinize' other modern concepts/words/cities in this course. As someone who studies primarily 'Classical Latin', focused mostly in my case on orations and poetry, a more vernacular, immediate Latin that feels 'useful' (in such a way that Latin can be in our contemporary speech) is incredibly interesting.

Please feel free to share any of your ideas or concepts, or expand on this! I'd love to hear what people have to say/think!

October 8, 2019



One thing that struck me immediately was its use of modern cities (e.g. Philadelphia

Philadelphia was a major city in Lydia, controlled by Rome from 133 B.C; hardly a 'Latinized' 'Modern' word.


The ancient Greeks named a major city after a brand of cream cheese? Maybe it was an essential ingredient of the Lydia lunch. Mundus mirabilis est.


It was an important trading link with the city of Δαιριλήα on the island of Κρακερός...


FWIW ... Wikipedia has an entry titled List of Latin names of cities


It also offers some strategies for dealing with names of places that were unknown in the Roman empire.

Some New World place names are already in Latin or based on Latin, such as Virginia, or are easily translated, Equus Albus for White Horse.

There are many places named after people, of course. It looks like the people who contributed to this list Latinized and/or spelled them using the orthography of Latin. For example, it suggests Hustonia for Houston.

That seems like a good idea for place names for which there isn't a consensus about the original meaning. Or even if the original meaning isn't well known.

For instance, I might suggest something like Tenasi or Tenasia for Tennessee ... as the original meaning of the name for the state and river is considered lost.


There are glossaries with modern terms, such as computer jargon, online. The Vatican put out a book with such in (IIRC) the early 1990's by Caelestis Eichenseer. Smith and Hall's Dictionary, although it's 150+ years old and classically oriented, may help somewhat. The old, out-of-print Latin Dictionary by the Follett Publishing Co. had attempts at modern terms in its English-Latin section.

[Added] Conversational Latin, by John Traupman, presents many modern terms thematically; some of the conversations from the book are read here; the book is available from amazon and elsewhere, as is the author's Latin primer (which I haven't seen), and a dictionary in trade (Amsco) and mass market (Bantam) formats. A "Modern Conversational Guide" by Georg Capellanus is available in English as Latin can be Fun.

Several fairly modern books have been translated into Latin--To Kill a Mockingbird, Treasure Island, Perfume, Sherlock Holmes stories, Harry Potter--which necessarily translate modern terms.

There's a "news site" in Latin, Ephemeris where you'll find plenty of modern vocabulary.

By its nature, "Nuntii Latini," which for 30 years broadcast a 5-minute newscast in Latin every week, discussed things there were no words for in Classical Latin, and a similar German site is still in operation.

The Assimil Latin course by C. Desessard is chock full of such terms.

You'll find plenty of modern terms used/attempted in videos from Latinitium, ScorpioMartianus (do not miss the list of links under "SHOW MORE"), Justin Slocum Bailey, the Paideia Institute, and several other people blog about the world today in Latin.

If you would like references or links for any of the above that don't have them, ask and I can probably supply them.


In middle school I was that much of a nerd that I got Vatican Dictionary as a christmas present, I still have it but never used it for much more than look up the word for astronaut (nauta sideralis). Do you know the german news site in latin?


That's very cool that you have the Eichenseer dictionary. I've only seen selections from it. Although some of the terms are rather long, it would be great to own a copy to use.

The German news site is Radio Bremen and an older archive .

The Vatican has something, too, although just as with Radio Bremen the German r's may become a bit much..

A couple of astronaut-related videos, Lunae, Iter ad Martem (ecclesiastical pronunciation), for your delectation.

Learn Latin in just 5 minutes a day. For free.