Wiktionary:About Latin

link={{{imglink}}} This is a Wiktionary policy, guideline or common practices page. Specifically it is a policy think tank, working to develop a formal policy.
Policies – Entries: CFI - EL - NORM - NPOV - QUOTE - REDIR - DELETE. Languages: LT - AXX. Others: BLOCK - BOTS - VOTES.
See also Category:Latin language

(based on Wiktionary:Entry layout)

Note 1: This guide is intended to provide guidelines both for creating Latin entries on English Wiktionary as well as for adding Latin translations to English words. The main guidelines for creating any entry on English Wiktionary is set forth in Wiktionary:Entry layout; this page is an addition to that page, not a replacement.

Note 2: If a change occurs in the basic wiktionary template (currently at Wiktionary:Entry layout) that affects Latin entries, then that change should be reflected here.

Creating Latin entriesEdit

Orthography for Latin entriesEdit

Latin scriptEdit

Throughout history, Latin has been written in a variety of scripts and writing systems due to its influence across Europe. However, only entries in the Latin script are currently accepted in Wiktionary; words may be attested with quotes from other scripts, but the pagetitle itself must be in the Latin script.


Liguratures such as æ and œ only appear post-Classical Latin. When attested, these entries should use {{alternative form of}} or {{alternative spelling of}} to point to the non-ligatured spelling.

I and JEdit

The distinction between I and J only appears post-Classical Latin. When attested, entries for forms using the J should use {{alternative form of}} or {{alternative spelling of}} to point to the non-J spelling.

Prefer V for consonantal form, but prefer U for the vowel formEdit

In Latin, the letter written as V in ancient times represented either a vowel or a consonant depending on its position and the word. The vowel sound and the consonant sound had distinct pronunciations and different metrical treatment in poetry.

A modern typographical convention is to use the letter V only for the consonant sound, and only when it is the first sound in a syllable. The letter U is used for the vowel sound, and for the consonant sound in the combinations QU, GU and SU (as in quis, sanguis, and suadeo). Generally speaking, English textbooks and dictionaries always write U this way and the majority of reprints of classical texts adapt them and show U too. The use of V for the vowel in new works is usually a consciously classical style or appearance, and that includes for example inscriptions on new monuments and the like.

Since the vast majority of modern dictionaries, textbooks, and texts distinguish between U and V in printed forms, Wiktionary will adhere to the same distinction.

Example: The word eqvvs is usually presented in modern texts as equus – using a U to represent the vowel form of the Latin letter V. This is done to assist in pronunciation, and to conform to English expectations concerning the letters U and V. Even though the spelling equus never occurred in Classical Latin, it is the preferred form for Wiktionary both because it is the form used in textbooks and Latin dictionaries and because it is the form typically used in Later Latin texts.

Distinguishing V and U allows us to keep separate terms that are pronounced differently but would be spelled the same if the distinction were not made, e.g. the bisyllabic word servit (he (she, it) serves) /ˈser.wit/ vs. the trisyllabic word seruit (he (she, it) has sown) /ˈse.ru.it/.

Do not use diacritical marks in page namesEdit

Most Latin dictionaries and textbooks use macrons (such as ā, ē, ī, ō, ū) in the headwords for entries. While these forms are traditional for reference works and useful to students, macrons do not appear in written Latin or in reproductions of literature and texts. Some older dictionaries and textbooks make use of breves (such as ă or ĭ), but these marks are not used in most textbooks nor in reproductions of literature. They appear in only a few modern dictionaries. Additionally, typing macrons or breves is difficult in many browsers and systems. Their use would make it difficult for users to search for words. For these reasons, the page name for Latin entries should not contain diacritical marks. However, macrons should be used within the body of pages. (see below)

Macrons should be used only within pagesEdit

It is conventional for printed Latin dictionaries to mark vowels that are pronounced long by placing a macron (a short horizontal bar, as in ā or ū) over such vowels in the headword.

Macrons were only used by the Romans in scanning exercises; in normal writing, vowel length was instead marked when necessary using the apex; in New Latin orthography, penultimate stressed (and thus long) vowels in words longer than two syllables were marked using the circumflex. With the development of the comparative method and the rising interest in the Reconstructed Pronunciation of Latin, the practice of using macrons was taken from dictionaries of poetic scansion such as the Gradus ad Parnassum, and since the beginning of the 20th century has become standard in textbooks.

On Wiktionary, macrons should never be used in the names of entries, so the word līber would appear on the page liber. However, within the text of the page, macrons should be used wherever appropriate. For example:



# [[free]]

In this example, the forms that would normally appear in the headers of a printed dictionary appear in the line immediately following the part of speech header. Notice that the (masculine) form matching the entry page is not linked, and so only needs to have the macron.

Macrons should also be used on a page when linking to a Latin word entry from an Etymology, from a set of Translations, from Related terms, and from similar sections.

Breves should not be used at allEdit

Some older dictionaries and textbooks make use of breves (such as ă or ĭ), but these marks are not used in most textbooks nor in reproductions of literature. They appear in only a few modern dictionaries. The purpose of including breves was to note the vowels whose pronunciation is short. However, if the long vowels are marked, it is unnecessary to mark the short ones since any unmarked vowel will be short. On Wiktionary, breves should not be used either in the names of pages for Latin words, nor in any of the text associated with Latin entries.

Note that Romanian, a language derived from Latin, does make use of breves, and for that language breves should be used as appropriate.


The inclusion or exclusion of attested forms featuring trema, such as onomatopoeïa, is yet to be clarified. See e.g. Talk:onomatopoeïa, after WT:RFD#onomatopoeïa gets archived, for a discussion.


The inclusion or exclusion of attested forms featuring circumflex, such as duûm, is yet to be clarified. See e.g. Talk:duûm, after WT:RFD#duûm gets archived, for a discussion.

Formatting Latin entriesEdit

For nouns, the lemma is usually the nominative singular; for adjectives, it is the masculine nominative singular; and for verbs, it is the first-person singular present active indicative (first principal part). The template {{inflection of}} identifies the lemma form and particular inflected form of the entry.

Definitions of verbsEdit

Latin verbs are lemmatised in the first-person singular present active indicative, but verbs in English are lemmatised in the infinitive. Since definitions are written in English, there is a discrepancy between the lemma forms in the two languages. The principle that is applied is "translate lemmas with lemmas": When giving a definition for a Latin verb lemma, give the definition using the English infinitive, preceded with to, as is the norm for English definitions.


For Latin entries, this section should always use the Inflection header, and never the alternatives Declension or Conjugation. Doing so reduces the number of possible section names, and thus improves accessibility of Latin entries for learners of both Latin and English. It also sidesteps the problem created by participles, which are technically verbs but decline like adjectives.

For entries with irregular inflections, include a short sentence identifying specific irregularities.

Optionally, an introductory message may be included to identify the particular inflection pattern for nouns or adjectives. A list of these may be found at Wiktionary:Latin inflection templates. However, for most regular inflection patterns, this is not necessary. The information is already incorporated into the verb conjugation tables, and may eventually be incorporated into the declension tables as well.

The primary component of the Inflection section is a declension or conjugation table. Most regular patterns have templates, listed in Category:Latin verb inflection-table templates, Category:Latin noun inflection-table templates, Category:Latin adjective inflection-table templates, and others at Category:Latin inflection-table templates. Refer to a template's talk page for instructions and examples of use.


Further guidance is given in the main article Wiktionary:Quotations.

Quotations are an important part of Latin entries. They prove that the word was in existence at some point in time, point to the time periods during which a word sense was active, and hint at usage rules (e.g. does that verb take an accusative or a dative?)

Quotations should not be made up. We strive to document the Latin language, not add to it. Find a quotation that uses any sense and any inflection of the word, and reproduce it in the definition section at the appropriate word sense. Be sure to include a translation into English.

Good sources of quotations are:

  • Lewis and Short's A Latin Dictionary online at Perseus. Note that L&S tend to modify the inflection of the word from the actual quote, and do not include the full quote. Find the full quote in the stated source and use that.
  • Google Books. Restrict your searches by selecting Free Google eBooks and change the time period to end at 1500. If you find no suitable books, increase the ending period by 100 years until you reach 1900. After that, assume your search was unsuccessful, and try a different inflection.
  • Google Search. Sometimes this comes up with gems. Add "+site:vatican.va" to limit your search to the Vatican website.

Determine the original year of writing for the quote. For example, a book from 1750 reproducing the words of Vitruvius should not be quoted as being from 1750, but rather "prior to 15 B.C.E.". Quotes from Virgil are particularly important to get right, since writers might pepper their works with quotes from Virgil ("as the Poet says..."). Find the original year of writing, attribute the quote to Virgil, find the name of Virgil's work that includes the quote, and whatever section information is necessary to find the quote. The exception, however, is works translated into Latin (for example, from Greek). In this case, indicate the original author, include "tr. by" and the translating author, and use the date of the translation, not of the original work.

If you can link the writer to a page on Wikipedia, do so using [[w:Wikipedia Entry|]]. If you can link the source to a page on la.wikisource.org, then do so using [[:la:s:Page Name|Name of Work]].

If you plan to use the same source over and over, consider writing a template following the pattern in {{RQ:Caesar Bello Gallico}}. Existing templates for Latin sources can be found at Category:Latin quotation templates.

In the Latin quote, adhere to the following orthographic rules:

  • Do not use the ligatures æ or œ. Instead, use ae and oe.
  • Do not use the letter j. Instead, use the letter i.
  • Do not use mācrōns or brĕvĕs.
  • If the original quote uses an accent over a final letter a (whether mācron, ácute, ma᷄cron-acute, dȯt, circûmflex, or any other mark) to indicate a feminine first declension ablative, use the acute accent: á. Authors often did this because the ablative would otherwise be ambiguous and possibly confused with the nominative (or with neuter plurals). This is an aid to interpretation, not an aid to pronunciation, which is why it does not conflict with the prohibition of macrons and breves.
  • If a word has ae or oe broken across syllables (as in, for example, aer or poeta), then put a diaeresis over the e: aër, poëta, regardless of whether the source does it. Again, this is done for disambiguation. For example, aëris (genitive of aër (air)) versus aeris (genitive of aes (copper)).
  • Use the letter v for the consonant form, and the letter u for the vowel form.
  • Use the letter s when you encounter ſ (long s). Otherwiſe thine writing doth look effuſively old-faſhioned and unſuitable.
  • Do not "correct" words with nonstandard spellings. These are valuable and deserve to be treated as alternative forms.
  • Expand the & character to et.
  • Expand scribal abbreviation. For example, aute᷄ (e with macron-acute) becomes autem, ꝙ (q with a diagonal stroke) becomes quia, and so on. While these are much more prevalent pre-Gutenberg, the macron-acute indicating a dropped -m or -n is often seen in post-Gutenberg works to save space.


This section always appears at level 3 as ===References===. It should conclude the language section, and should never be placed within any subheader. It will include all references for the Latin section as a group.

The template {{R:L&S}} can be used in this section to identify the reference: Charlton T. Lewis & Charles Short (1879), A Latin Dictionary (Oxford: Clarendon Press). The template will automatically create an external link to the corresponding entry at Perseus, where the source is available on-line.

The current list of reference templates may be found at Category:Reference templates#Translation dictionaries. If you find more references, please don't hesitate to add them.


As a language with limited documentation, Latin entries may qualify for inclusion based merely upon a mentioning in certain sources. A mentioning in one or more of the following sources is sufficient for this minimal-attestation purpose:

  1. Paulus Diaconus’ epitome (8th C. C.E.) of Sextus Pompeius Festus’ epitome (late 2nd C. C.E.) of Marcus Verrius Flaccus’ encyclopaedic dictionary, De verborum significatu (ante 20 C.E.) — See {{RQ:Paul.Fest.}}.
  2. Nonius MarcellusDe compendiosa doctrina (early 4th C. C.E.)
  3. Isidorus HispalensisEtymologiae (circa 600–625 C.E.)

This list of acceptable sources may see expansion in the future.

Latin verbs in etymologies of other languagesEdit

As with definitions, apply the principle of "translate lemmas with lemmas". When giving a link to a Latin verb in an etymology, the Latin verb is given in the lemma for Latin verbs, while the English translation of that verb uses the lemma for English verbs. Thus, a link may be given as spērō (to hope).

On Wiktionary, modern Romance languages use the infinitive form as the lemma, just as most print dictionaries do for those languages. Such infinitive forms derive from the Latin present active infinitive form of the verb (second principal part), but the lemma form for Latin verbs is the first-person singular present active indicative (first principal part). As a result, if linking a French, Italian, or Spanish verb to the corresponding Latin infinitive will link it to a non-lemma that lacks most information a user will seek. Again, the general principle "translate lemmas with lemmas" applies: the etymology should show the lemma form of the language in question, not the form from which the Romance lemma derives. Thus, Latin verbs are linked with the first principal part, regardless of which form the Romance verb comes from.


The Spanish verb infinitive form esperar descends from the Latin present active infinitive form spērāre. Nevertheless, the verb esperar (to hope) as a whole is said to derive from Latin spērō (to hope).

The syntax on the following line will give the output in grey that follows:

From {{der|es|la|spērō||hope, expect}}.
From Latin spērō (hope, expect).

Again, each etymology should trace the word back to a lemma form whenever possible.

Additional helpEdit

Help from the communityEdit

Sometimes, we know there is a problem, but don't know what to do to correct the problem. If you should find a Latin entry with a problem that you do not know how to correct, there are several ways to approach the situation.

  1. Mark the page with {{attention|la}}. This template will add the entry to Category:Requests for attention concerning Latin, where another user can then find and correct the problem. It helps if you include comments on the entry's talk page explaining what the problem is or why you think the page needs attention.
  2. Raise the issue on Wiktionary talk:About Latin. Note that this approach is primarily for issues of style, formatting, categorization, and not for specifics of content.
  3. Mark the page with {{rfc}}. this is a more general cleanup tag, and it allows the user to include reasons or concerns as an argument in the template. Be sure to also add an entry to WT:RFC concerning the word so that other editors will be made aware of the problem.

Other Latin aidsEdit

See alsoEdit