Latin Vocabulary Words: An Essential Resource

Salvete, omnes! That’s "hello everyone" or “hey, y’all” in Latin. You may have heard Latin is a dead language. Not so! Latin is fundamental to the vocabulary of millions of people. Even leaving aside Italian, Spanish, French, and all the other languages that evolved directly from Latin, many English words have their roots in the tongue of ancient Rome. Discover a great list of Latin vocabulary words, organized by part of speech.

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Latin Adjectives

As you browse our list of Latin adjectives, you may have a bit of a familiar feeling. By various estimates, anywhere between 20 and 60 percent of English vocabulary comes straight from Latin. See how many derivatives you can pick out in the following Latin word list! (If you need a quick refresher on telling adverbs from adjectives, our examples of parts of speech are standing by.)

  • bardus - slow, dull
  • brevis - short, brief
  • comminus - in close combat
  • electus - chosen
  • extremus - last, extreme
  • gravatus - sick, ill
  • gravis - heavy, serious, important, grievous
  • hodiernus - of today
  • honorabilis - respectful
  • idoneus - proper, fitting, capable
  • ignarus - ignorant
  • ignavus - lazy, inert, sluggish, a coward
  • ignotus - unknown, obscure, ignorant
  • immortalis - immortal
  • incorruptus - genuine, pure
  • liquidus - fluid, liquid, flowing
  • prudens - prudent, wise
  • regius - royal, regal
  • rusticus - rustic, rural
  • salvus - safe, sound
  • serius - serious, grave
  • simplex - simple
  • tersus - clean, neat
  • tutis - protected, safe, secure
  • vetus - old

Latin Adverbs

As in English, Latin adverbs are mostly adjectives with a special suffix at the end. Latin takes off the ending and adds -e. English does much the same with -ly. Happening in a happy way? That’s “happily.” Going down fast? That’s “quickly.” However, there are some unusual Latin adverbs you’ll want to memorize, because, like English, the weird adverbs are the important ones. Bene comes up every bit as often as the English word “well.”

  • bene - well
  • benigne - kindly, generously
  • cras - tomorrow
  • deinde - next, thereafter
  • eminus - from a distance
  • graviter - seriously
  • heri - yesterday
  • hodie - today
  • pariter - equally, as well
  • quoque - also, too
  • quotiens - often
  • semper - always, ever
  • serio - seriously
  • velociter - quickly, swiftly
  • vero - in truth, indeed, to be sure

Latin Nouns

A frankly absurd number of English nouns come from Latin. It’s a good rule of thumb that if an English word is longer than two syllables, there’s a good chance it’s from Latin, Greek or both. Yes, both: Latin borrowed many Greek words, then English pillaged Latin.

Latin Nouns A-F

Examples of Latin nouns that start with the letters "a" through "f" include:

  • abbas - father
  • abbatia - monastery
  • basium - kiss
  • benevolentia - benevolence, good will
  • caelum - sky, heaven
  • calamitas - calamity, disaster
  • campana - bell
  • caput - head, summit, top
  • carmen - poem, song
  • commissum - undertaking, that which is entrusted
  • delectatio - delight, enjoyment
  • dux - leader, general, commander, duke
  • ecclesia - church
  • episcopus - bishop
  • epistula - letter, message
  • eventus - consequence, result, experience
  • famulus - servant
  • fides - promise, engagement, word of honor
  • flamma - flame, fire
  • frigus - cold, winter, indolence
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Latin Nouns G-L

Latin nouns starting with the letters "g" through "l" include:

  • gaudium - joy, happiness, delight
  • gloria - fame, glory
  • gravitas - weight, importance
  • hereditas - inheritance
  • hora - hour, time
  • hypocrita - hypocrite
  • ictus - blow, bite, thrust
  • ignis - fire
  • inceptum - beginning, attempt
  • juvenis - youth, young man
  • labor - labor, work
  • limen - threshold
  • lingua - language, speech
  • linteum - linen, napkin
  • ludio - actor, player
  • ludus - game, sport
  • lues - pestilence, calamity
  • lux - light
  • luxuria - luxury, opulence

Latin Nouns M-O

Latin nouns that begin with the letters "m" through "o" include:

  • mane - morning
  • mare - sea
  • maritus - husband
  • mater - mother
  • materia - material, matter
  • matertera - maternal aunt
  • matrimonium - marriage
  • memoria - memory, remembrance, recall
  • missa - holy mass
  • monachus - monk
  • mundus - world, universe
  • natio - nation, people
  • natura - nature
  • nefas - wrong, sin
  • nihilum - nothing
  • novitas - newness, novelty
  • opera - work, labor
  • oratio - speech, oration

Latin Nouns P-X

Latin nouns that start with the letters "p" through "x" include:

  • palma - palm
  • pater - father
  • pax - peace
  • placitum - judgment, case, plea
  • plorator - lamenter
  • ploratus - weeping, lamenting
  • pluvia - rain, shower
  • pluma - feather, pen
  • pulpa - flesh
  • rectum - virtue, right
  • sacrificum - sacrifice
  • sapientia - wisdom
  • sermo - discussion, talk, conversation
  • servitus - slavery
  • spes - hope
  • synagoga - synagogue
  • tabellae - letter, document
  • tempestas - storm, weather
  • umbra - shade, shadow
  • uxor - wife, spouse
  • vestigium - footstep, trace, mark
  • vita - life
  • voluptas - pleasure
  • xiphias - swordfish
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Latin Verbs

English verbs don’t derive from Latin quite so often as nouns do. That’s because Latin is inflected and English isn’t. That is, Latin indicates what’s going on with a verb by its ending, while English generally does so by its place in the sentence.

Latin Verbs A-F

Latin verbs that begin with the letters "a" through "f" include:

  • abduco - to take away
  • adduco - to lead
  • aegresco (also spelled “egresco”) - to fall ill, to become troubled
  • capto - to grab, try to get
  • comminuo - to scatter, weaken, damage
  • commisceo - to intermingle, join, mix
  • decerno - to decide, to settle
  • defaeco - to cleanse, to purify
  • degusto - to taste
  • disputo - to discuss
  • dormio - to sleep, nap, siesta
  • exerceo - to train, to exercise, to practice
  • exspecto - to look for, to await
  • exstinguo - to extinguish, to put out
  • exulto - to exult, be joyful
  • facio - to do, to make

Latin Verbs G-M

Latin verbs starting with the letters "g" through "m" include:

  • gusto - to taste
  • ignoro - to be ignorant of, to not know, to neglect, to overlook
  • ignosco - to forgive, to pardon
  • imitor - to imitate
  • inscribo - inscribe
  • investigo - to track down, to investigate
  • lacesso - to harass, to attack
  • lego - to gather, choose, collect
  • leto - to kill
  • libero - to liberate, set free
  • ligo - to bind
  • lino - to smear, to dirty
  • litigo - to quarrel, to have a dispute
  • ludo - to play, to imitate
  • macto - to magnify, honor, punish, afflict
  • maero - to grieve, sorrow

Latin Verbs N-V

Latin verbs that start with the letters "n" through "v" include:

  • nego - to deny
  • novo - to make anew, refresh, invent
  • offero - to bring forward, place before, present, offer, expose
  • oro - to speak, to plead, to entreat
  • pando - to spread out, extend
  • pario - to bear, bring forth, to produce
  • ploro - to lament, weep
  • quaeso (also spelled “queso”) - to seek for, ask for
  • renuo - to deny, to refuse, to reject
  • sanctifico - to sanctify, make holy
  • sequor - to follow
  • sero - to sow, to plant
  • transeo - to go over, pass over, go past
  • vado - to hasten, to rush
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Latin Prepositions

No Latin word list is complete without a selection of the many prepositions commonly used in the language.

  • a (ab) - from, by
  • ad - to, toward
  • ante - before
  • circum - around
  • contra - against
  • cum - with
  • de - down from, concerning, on
  • e (ex) - out of, away from
  • extra - outside of
  • in - in, on, into, onto
  • inter - between
  • intra - within
  • ob - on account of
  • per - through, because of, thanks to
  • post - after, behind
  • prae - before, in front of
  • praeter - beyond, except for
  • pro - for, on behalf of
  • propter - on account of
  • sine - without
  • sub - under
  • super - above
  • trans - across
  • versus - against

Latin Conjunctions

There are several common conjunctions in the Latin language.

  • a​ut - or
  • et - and
  • etiam - also
  • neque - nor
  • quamquam - although
  • quod - because
  • sed - but
  • tamen - nevertheless

Latin Dictionaries and Translators

If you’re still struggling with bella lingua Latina (the beautiful Latin language), never fear. Nobody’s vocabulary is perfect, and there are lots of digital resources to help you out. To begin with, here are some Latin-English translators. They won’t do your homework for you, but they’re a great way to get past a tough line or two.

  • Google Translate is always an option but is best used with simpler stuff.
  • The Latin specialists at Notre Dame are experts in more challenging issues.
  • The Perseus Project at Tufts University is here for the hardest bits of the most complicated Latin prose and poetry.
  • The University of British Columbia offers an extensive online directory of Latin words.

As for online dictionaries, a great Latin dictionary available online is by Lewis and Short, available through the Perseus Project or at LatinLexicon.org.

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Latin in the 21st Century

Latin is almost 3,000 years old and still going strong. Studies show that learning Latin can improve your vocabulary (not to mention your SAT score). Latin is also part of the jargon in medicine, the sciences and law. We’ve brought together several lists of Latin vocabulary words, separated by parts of speech, for any novice just starting their studies.

For more everyday Latin, discover some common Latin words still used in English. Then, review root words to develop an understanding of the links between Latin and English. If you’re boning up on your Latin vocab for the SAT, have a look at 100 common SAT words.