From Proto-Italic *habēō or *haβēō, the latter possibly from Proto-Indo-European *gʰh₁bʰ- ‎(to grab, to take). Compare Old Irish gaibim ‎(I hold), Polish gabać ‎(to grab, snatch).

Oscan and Umbrian have cognate forms with -b-[1], which must reflect an original -b- as Proto-Italic -β- (and therefore PIE -bʰ-) becomes -f- in those languages. On the other hand, b is a rare phoneme in PIE, whose status is still disputed. Thus, the exact origin of this word is not clear.

Among the oldest attestations are the works of Plautus (circa 254 to 184 BC) and the Senatus consultum de Bacchanalibus (186 BC). Umbrian cognate hab- attested in the Iguvine Tablets (oldest tablets 3rd century BC). Oscan cognate haf-[2] attested in the Tabula Bantina (89 BC).



habeō ‎(present infinitive habēre, perfect active habuī, supine habitum); second conjugation

  1. I have, hold.
    Spero ut pacem habeant semper.
    I hope that they may always have peace.
    • 63 BCE, Cicero, Catiline Orations (Latin text and English translations here)
      O di immortales, ubinam gentium sumus? Quam rem publicam habemus? In qua urbe vivimus?.
      O ye immortal gods, where on earth are we? What is the government we have? In what city are we living?
  2. I own, have (possessions).
  3. I possess, have (qualities).
    Habet annos viginti.
    He is twenty years old.
    Literally: He has twenty years
    • Sallustius, Bellum Catalinae
      Nam divitiarum et formae gloria fluxa atque fragilis est, virtus clara aeternaque habetur.
      For the glory of wealth and beauty is fleeting and perishable; that of the mind is illustrious and possessed forever.
  4. I retain, maintain.
  5. I conduct, preside over.
  6. I regard, consider or account a person or thing as something.
    Diemque cladis quotannis maestum habuerit ac lugubrem.
    And each year he considered the day of the disaster gloomy and mournful
  7. I accept, bear, endure.
  8. (of feelings, problems) I affect, trouble (someone).
    • 27 BCE – 25 BCE, Titus Livius, Ab urbe condita libri 26.1
      Ea tum cura maxime intentos habebat Romanos, non ab ira tantum, quae in nullam unquam ciuitatem iustior fuit, quam quod urbs tam nobilis ac potens, sicut defectione sua traxerat aliquot populos, ita recepta inclinatura rursus animos uidebatur ad ueteris imperii respectum.
      This concern in particular troubled the mindful Romans at the time, not so much because of anger, which has never been more justified against any other city, rather because a city so noble and powerful, in the same way that it had attracted the support of a number of communities by its revolt, was thought would again turn attention back towards respect for the previous government once recaptured.

Usage notesEdit

  • Another way of denoting ownership besides using the verb habeō is using the possessor in the dative case (e.g. mihi ‎(to me), tibi ‎(to you), nōbīs ‎(to us)) with the copula esse ‎(to be), literally asking whether the item in question "is to you". For example:
    Habēsne epistolas? - Do you have the letters?
    Suntne tibi epistolae? - Do you have the letters?
  • And to answer one could say:
    Sic est, habeo epistolas. - Yes, I have the letters.
    Etiam, sunt mihi epistolae. - Yes, I have the letters.


   Conjugation of habeo (second conjugation)
indicative singular plural
first second third first second third
active present habeō habēs habet habēmus habētis habent
imperfect habēbam habēbās habēbat habēbāmus habēbātis habēbant
future habēbō habēbis habēbit habēbimus habēbitis habēbunt
perfect habuī habuistī habuit habuimus habuistis habuērunt, habuēre
pluperfect habueram habuerās habuerat habuerāmus habuerātis habuerant
future perfect habuerō habueris habuerit habuerimus habueritis habuerint
passive present habeor habēris, habēre habētur habēmur habēminī habentur
imperfect habēbar habēbāris, habēbāre habēbātur habēbāmur habēbāminī habēbantur
future habēbor habēberis, habēbere habēbitur habēbimur habēbiminī habēbuntur
perfect habitus + present active indicative of sum
pluperfect habitus + imperfect active indicative of sum
future perfect habitus + future active indicative of sum
subjunctive singular plural
first second third first second third
active present habeam habeās habeat habeāmus habeātis habeant
imperfect habērem habērēs habēret habērēmus habērētis habērent
perfect habuerim habuerīs habuerit habuerīmus habuerītis habuerint
pluperfect habuissem habuissēs habuisset habuissēmus habuissētis habuissent
passive present habear habeāris, habeāre habeātur habeāmur habeāminī habeantur
imperfect habērer habērēris, habērēre habērētur habērēmur habērēminī habērentur
perfect habitus + present active subjunctive of sum
pluperfect habitus + imperfect active subjunctive of sum
imperative singular plural
first second third first second third
active present habē habēte
future habētō habētō habētōte habentō
passive present habēre habēminī
future habētor habētor habentor
non-finite forms active passive
present perfect future present perfect future
infinitives habēre habuisse habitūrus esse habērī habitus esse habitum īrī
participles habēns habitūrus habitus habendus
verbal nouns gerund supine
nominative genitive dative/ablative accusative accusative ablative
habēre habendī habendō habendum habitum habitū

Derived termsEdit

Related termsEdit



  1. ^ De Vaan, Michiel (2008) Etymological Dictionary of Latin and the other Italic Languages (Leiden Indo-European Etymological Dictionary Series; 7), Leiden, Boston: Brill
  2. ^ Perfectum: hip-; Carl Darling Buck believes the f is a mistake and should be a p so the present stem would be hap-.
Read in another language