Latin Loan Words in English

English has borrowed the following Latin words with little or no change in form (morphology), but note how the original meaning of the Latin word sometimes differs from the English meaning (semantic change). The plurals of such loan words in English are usually based upon the Latin plural; therefore, both singular and plural Latin noun forms are listed. Can you add any words to this list? What parts of speech do these words become in English? Compare the meaning of the Latin words to their current English meanings.

Latin Nouns

alumnus, alumni: foster-son

alumna, alumnae: foster-daughter

antenna, antennae: sailyard

apex, apices: top summit

apparatus, apparatus: preparation, preparing

appendix, appendices: appendage, addition

arena, arenae: sand, an area covered with sand

cactus, cacti: thistle

campus, campi: field

circus, circi: circle

corpus, corpora: body

crux, cruces: cross

curriculum, curricula: running course

dictator, dictatores: dictator, absolute ruler

effluvium, effluvia: a flowing out, an outlet

finis, fines: end

fervor, fervores: boiling

focus, foci: a fireplace, hearth

formula, formulae: diminutive of "form"; a set form

genus, genera: birth, descent, origin, race, stock

gratis: for nothing

index, indices: forefinger, indicator

medium, media: the middle

matrix, matrices: the womb

modus, modi: way

prospectus, prospectus: an outlook, view, prospect

ratio, rationes: reason

series, series: row, succession

species, species: a seeing, view, shape, form, kind

stimulus, stimuli: goad

terminus, termini: end

ultimatum, ultimata: the last thing

vertigo, vertigines: a whirling around

via, viae: road

virus: poison

vortex, vortices: a whirl

Latin Verbs

audit: he hears

debit: it is lacking

credit: he believes

credo: I believe

datum, data: that which is given

deposit: he places down

dictum, dicta: that which is said

emeritus, emeriti: one who has served his time

emerita, emeritae: one who has served her time

fiat: let it happen

floruit: he flourished

placebo: I will please

posse: to be able

stratum, strata: that which is stretched out

tenet: he holds

In Latin the inflected forms -ndum (singular) and -nda (plural) often express necessity; thus:

addendum, addenda: that which must be added

agendum, agenda: that which must be done

corrigendum, corrigenda: that which must be corrected

memorandum, memoranda: that which must be remembered

propagandum, propaganda: that which must be increased

referendum, referenda: that which must be carried out

"one who does" words:

actor: one who does

doctor: one who teaches

gladiator: one who holds a sword

orator: one who speaks

Latin Adjectives

neuter: neither of two

inferior: lower

iunior (junior): younger

minor: lessor

minus: less

bonus: good

pauper: poor

superior: higher

senior: older

maior (major): greater

plus: more

Other parts of speech:

interim: meanwhile

omnibus: for all, everything

regalia: royal, kingly

verbatim: word for word

seriatim: in a series


ego: I

alter ego: another I

super ego: "above the I." This term is actually a poor derivative; it could not have existed as written in Latin.

id: that which


CLAS224 Word Elements. Monmouth College Monmouth, Illinois

Instructor: Thomas J. Sienkewicz (


Back to the Top

Return to Monmouth College Classics Dept. Home Page