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Getting started on classical Latin
Getting started on classical Latin

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2.4 Latin vocabulary

The links between Latin and English vocabulary are good news for students of Latin. Because of the presence of so many words of Latin origin in English, many Latin words are relatively easy for English speakers to absorb. Indeed, some Latin words are almost identical to their English equivalents, as shown in Table 2.

Table 2 Latin words with similar English equivalents
Latin wordEnglish meaning
adulescensyoung man, youth, adolescent
affirmoI affirm
desideroI desire
finisfinish, end
persuadeoI persuade
rapidusrapid, swift
respondeoI reply, respond
similissimilar, like

The fact that Latin words often have English derivatives can also make them relatively straightforward to learn.

Table 3 Latin words with English derivatives
Latin wordEnglish derivations
familia, householdfamily
filius, sonfilial
habito, I live, dwellhabitat
celo, I hideconceal
clamo, I shoutexclaim
intro, I enterenter
porto, I carryporter
timeo, I feartimid
voco, I callvocation (i.e. a 'calling')
amo, I loveamiable
curo, I look aftercurator

Activity 3

Now it’s time to do a little vocabulary building. How many of the following common Latin words can you guess the meaning of? Type your answers next to the Latin words in the box provided.

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Latin wordEnglish meaning
armaarms, weapons
causacause, reason
custosguard (custodian)
defendoI defend
feminawoman (feminine)
fraterbrother (fraternal)
nomenname (nominal)
optimusvery good, excellent (optimal)
paterfather (paternal)
servusslave (servant)