Latin Genealogical Terms

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Latin terms are often encountered by genealogists in early church records, as well as in many legal documents. You can learn to interpret the Latin language you encounter with by applying an understanding of keywords and phrases.

Common genealogy terms, including record types, events, dates, and relationships are listed here, along with Latin words with similar meanings (i.e., words commonly used to indicate marriage, including marry, marriage, wedding, wedlock and unite).

Latin Basics

Latin is the mother language for many modern European languages, including English, French, Spanish and Italian. Therefore, Latin will be found used in the earlier records of most European countries, as well as in Roman Catholic records around the world.

Latin Language Essentials

The most important thing to look for in Latin words is the root, as it will give you the basic meaning of the word. The same Latin word may be found with multiple endings, depending on the way the word is used in the sentence.

Different endings will be used if a word is masculine, feminine or neuter, as well as to indicate singular or plural forms of a word. The endings of Latin words can also vary depending on the grammatical usage of the words, with specific endings used to indicate a word used as the subject of the sentence, as a possessive, as the object of a verb, or used with a preposition.

Common Latin Words Found in Genealogy Documents

Record Types
Baptismal Register - matricula baptizatorum, liber
Census - census
Church Records - parish matrica (parish registers)
Death Register - certificato di morte
Marriage Register - matrica (marriage register), bannorum (register of marriage banns), liber
Military - militaris, bellicus

Family Events
Baptism / Christening - baptismi, baptizatus, renatus, plutus, lautus, purgatus, ablutus, lustratio
Birth - nati, natus, genitus, natales, ortus, oriundus
Burial - sepulti, sepultus, humatus, humatio
Death - mortuus, defunctus, obitus, denatus, decessus, peritus, mors, mortis, obiit, decessit
Divorce - divortium
Marriage - matrimonium, copulatio, copulati, conjuncti, nupti, sponsati, ligati, mariti
Marriage (banns) - banni, proclamationes, denuntiationes

Ancestor - antecessor, patres (forefathers)
Aunt - amita (paternal aunt); matertera, matris soror (maternal aunt)
Brother - frater, frates gemelli (twin brothers)
Brother-in-law - affinis, sororius
Child - ifans, filius (son of), filia (daughter of), puer, proles
Cousin - sobrinus, gener
Daughter - filia, puella; filia innupta (unwed daughter); unigena (only begotten daughter)
Descendant - proles, successio
Father - pater (father), pater ignoratus (unknown father), novercus (stepfather)
Grandchild - nepos ex fil, nepos (grandson); neptis (granddaughter)
Grandfather - avus, pater patris (paternal grandfather)
Grandmother - avia, socrus magna (maternal grandmother)
Great-grandchild - pronepos (great grandson); proneptis (great granddaughter)
Great-grandfather - proavus, abavus (2nd great grandfather), atavus (3rd great grandfather)
Great-grandmother - proavia, proava, abavia (2nd great grandmother)
Husband - uxor (spouse), maritus, sponsus, conjus, coniux, ligatus, vir
Mother - mater
Niece/Nephew - amitini, filius fratris/sororis (nephew), filia fratris/sororis (niece)
Orphan, Foundling - orbus, orba
Parents - parentes, genitores
Relatives - propinqui (relatives); agnati, agnatus (paternal relatives); cognati, cognatus (maternal relatives); affines, affinitas (related by marriage, in-laws)
Sister - soror, germana, glos (husband's sister)
Sister-in-law - gloris
Son - filius, natus
Son-in-law - gener
Uncle - avunculus (paternal uncle), patruus (maternal uncle)
Wife - vxor/uxor (spouse), marita, conjux, sponsa, mulier, femina, consors
Widow - vidua, relicta
Widower - viduas, relictus

Day - dies, die
Month - mensis, menses
Year - annus, anno; often abbreviated Ao, AE or aE
Morning - mane
Night - nocte, vespere (evening)
January - Januarius
February - Februarius
March - Martius
April - Aprilis
May - Maius
June - Junius, Iunius
July - Julius, Iulius, Quinctilis
August - Augustus
September - September, Septembris, 7ber, VIIber
October - October, Octobris, 8ber, VIIIber
November - November, Novembris, 9ber, IXber
December - December, Decembris, 10ber, Xber

Other Common Latin Genealogical Terms
And others - et alii (et. al)
Anno Domini (A.D.) - in the year of our Lord
Archive - archivia
Catholic church - ecclesia catholica
Cemetery (graveyard) - cimiterium, coemeterium
Genealogy - genealogia
Index - indice
Household - familia
Name, given - nomen, dictus (named), vulgo vocatus (alias)
Name, surname (family name) - cognomen, agnomen (also nickname)
Name, maiden - look for "from" or "of" to indicate maiden namenata (born), ex (from), de (of)
Obit - (he or she) died
Obit sine prole (o.s.p.) - (he or she) died without offspring
Parish - parochia, pariochialis
Parish priest - parochus
Testes - witnesses
Town - urbe
Village - vico, pagus
Videlicet - namely
Will/Testament - testamentum

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Your Citation
Powell, Kimberly. "Latin Genealogical Terms." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Powell, Kimberly. (2023, April 5). Latin Genealogical Terms. Retrieved from Powell, Kimberly. "Latin Genealogical Terms." ThoughtCo. (accessed May 31, 2023).