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Latin, Italian and English Glossary.

Kindly provided to pompeiiinpictures by Michael Binns.

This glossary started life many years ago as various reference lists for my students of Latin and of Roman archaeology, architecture, and life, that were put together in my own way for my own teaching needs, and I have now pulled many of them together into this collection apart from archaeological, political, military, epigraphic, and prosopographical terms. It has gained clear benefits over the years from many other sources, both electronic and printed, whose details I can no longer recall, and I have made no attempt to do so. There are several helpful glossaries on the Web. The best printed glossary that has appeared recently must be that in John J. Dobbins and Pedar W. Foss, The World of Pompeii, New York and London, Routledge, 2007, pp. 637–48, though because of the book’s wide-ranging articles it contains many entries outside the needs of my own students. For the differences between original Latin terminology and modern “scholarly” Latin terms see Penelope M. Allison, Pompeian Households: An Analysis of the Material Culture, Los Angeles, University of California, 2004, Chapter 7, Textual Nomenclature for Spaces, pp. 161–77, simply referred to as “Allison” below.

One feature of the Latin presented here may surprise some users who are still unfamiliar with the use of “u” in lower-case to represent both vowel and consonant; for its separation into two different characters, “u” and “v”, is a fairly modern conceit, and to be deprecated, for Latin itself made no such distinction. The original Latin usage is at last returning and becoming standard again now, although some teachers, both in schools and in universities, are still unaware of this or are reluctant to change their habits. A similar modern separate use of “i” and “j” for vowel and consonant died long ago, but for some reason that modern separation of “u” and “v” is dying a rather prolonged operatic death. In upper case “V” is used for both vowel and consonant.

I have included the Italian terms, as far as I know them, as many of our sources are of course in Italian, and I have given the plurals of both Latin and Italian terms to ease their distinction. Sometimes Italian simply copies the Latin term or adapts it to modern Italian spelling; yet it also tends to do this with Latin personal names—which it should not, for Caecilius Iucundus was ever called just that, and never Cecilio Giocondo! I hope that someone will check my Italian and advise me on errors or poor terminology. Later I hope to prepare another version of this list sorted alphabetically by the Italian terms instead of the Latin ones.

For more information on architectural matters an excellent web site is at http://www.buffaloah.com/a/DCTNRY/vocab.html. There is another very useful list in F. Coarelli, Rome and Environs, Un. of California press, Berkeley, 2007, pp. 536–40.

There is still work to be done here on the architectural terms and materials, and on a separate glossary on these and other technical terms, and there are other gaps to be filled and improvements to be made, when I get round to them! For such lists are always incomplete and are prone to error, and I shall appreciate your additions, suggestions, corrections, and comments.

A swung dash (~) shows the repeat of a longer term to save space, a hyphen (-) that of part of a single word. A pair of spaced dashes (–  –) shows a repeat of the previous item, and a single long dash (—) shows an empty slot. [!] means take note; [!!] means a usage to be condemned.

Michael Binns,

University of Durham, Department of Archaeology; 

Created 2007-09-11; Last Revision 2015-01-11.

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Click on a letter to go directly to the first Latin word starting with that letter. Use your keyboard Home key to get back here.

Latin words and their plurals    
Italian terms and their plurals      
English form, meaning, and usage
   
aditus, aditus (same) corridoio, corridoi passageway.
administratio, administrationes amministrazione, -zioni local government.
aedes (singular)tempio, templi shrine, temple.
aedes (plural)casa, case any quality of house: cf. the Latin term “casa”, below.
aedicula, aediculae reliquiario, -quiari? or nicchia, -ie small shrine presented as a miniature temple with a podium, a pillar at each side, and a pediment above, or representations of these, often around a wall niche or sometimes forming a tomb.
aedificatio, aedificationes costruzione, costruzioni (the manner of) building, construction.
aedificium, aedificia edificio, edifici building.
aedilis, aedilesedile, edili aedile, aediles: junior official, two elected annually; became life member of the ordo. Looked after public buildings, entertainment, water and drainage, markets, and good order in general.
aerarium, aerariaerario, erari treasury.
aerarius, aerariiottonaio, -nai or ramiere, ramieri bronzesmith or coppersmith.
agathodaemon, -daemones agathodemone, -demoni friendly snake or pair of snakes regularly shown at lararia in houses; cf. the Chinese dragon.
ala, alaeala, ale wing, not a room, but a side extension of the far end of an atrium, ideally on each side, reaching the full width of the house.
alueus, aluei? hot-water immersion bath in most caldaria.
ambulatio, ambulationes? place for walking; porticus: see Allison, 169–70.
amphitheatrum, amphitheatra anfiteatro, anfiteatri amphitheatre, an oval stadium with stepped seating all round and used for presenting games, gladiatorial contests, and other spectacles.
amphora, amphoraeanfora, anfore large earthenware storage jar of various shapes and sizes, but they are all of stout fabric and have fairly narrow necks and a pair of thick handles at the shoulders. Some are found stacked inside houses and shops, others in the holds of wrecked ships. They were often re-used, and so makers’ stamps and dipinti or graffiti recording contents must be used with caution.
analemma, analemmata(as Latin) a support, especially the wall at the end of the cauea in a theatre.
andron, andronescorridoio, -doi; (or as Latin) a Greek word, originally referring to the room where Greek men dined and drank, but in Roman large houses refers to the passageway between the atrium and the rear part of the house.
angiportum, angiporta or vicolo, vicoli side-street, alley.
angiportus, angiportus (same) vicolo, vicoli side-street, alley.
antefixum, antefixa antefissa, antefisse earthenware plug-in decorative items fixed along the bottom edges of some roofs below the last imbrex of each vertical run.
antiquitates collectae (pl.)? antiquario, antiquari museum; collected antiquities.
apodyterium, apodyteria(as Latin) changing room.
apotheca, apothecaedispensa, dispense Greek word for store room.
ara, araealtare, altari altar in a house or in a street, at a crossroad, or outside a temple.
arca, arcaecassa, casse large wooden strong-box, reinforced with metal bands and perhaps bolted into the floor, usually found in the atrium.
arcus, arcus (same)arco, archi any arch, including fancy honorific arch with a statue on top.
argentarius, argentarii banchiere, banchieri banker.
ars, artesmestiere, mestieri occupation, trade.
atrium, atriaatrio, atri grand formal reception hall towards the front of a classical large house, reaching to the roof, where there was usually an opening, the compluuium. However, some late houses in Pompeii open into a peristylium instead.
atrium Corinthium, atria -inthia atrio corinzio, atri corinzi atrium with more than four columns supporting the roof: rare, only four known in Pompeii, e.g., Casa dei Dioscuri.
atrium testudinatum, atria -nata atrio testudinato, atri -nati atrium with a closed roof: not too common; cf. compluuium.
atrium tetrastylium, atria -stylia atrio tetrastilo, atri tetrastili atrium with four columns supporting the roof.
atrium Tuscanicum, atria -nica atrio tuscanico, atri tuscanichi atrium with no columns supporting the roof; e.g. Casa del Menandro.
augustalis, augustales augustale, augustali one of the college of six priests who saw to the worship of Roma et Augustus (Rome and the current emperor) in each city. All were very successful freedmen.
aulaeum, aulaeatappeto, tappeti; tappezzeria (sg.) tapestry, wall-hanging.
aurifex, aurificesorefice, orefici goldsmith.
balneum, balnea bagno, bagni; or any type of bath suite, public or private; or
–  –terme (pl.); or (usually plural) large public bath house; or
–  –bagni (pl.); stanze da bagno; or bathrooms, bath suite (private version of public baths), cf. Casa del Menandro, Casa del Criptoportico; not common in cities; or
–  –vasca, vasche immersion bath, as in the caldarium.
basilica, basilicaebasilica, basiliche large aisled hall, especially a civic one used for official meetings and administration of justice. It was normally beside the forum.
basis, basesbase, basi podium, raised foundation platform (of a temple).
bibliotheca, bibliothecae biblioteca, biblioteche library.
biclinium, bicliniasala da pranzo, sale da pranzo formal dining room with two large couches facing each other instead of the usual three: see triclinium.
bisellium, bisellia(as Latin) double seats, granted as an honour by councils to distinguished citizens, for use in public events at the theatre or elsewhere and shown on their tombs.
calidarium, calidaria (as Latin) hot room in a steam bath.
caminus, caminiforno, forni cooking platform, about waist height in most Italian houses; the top often had a raised edge. Charcoal fires were set on top as needed. Arched openings beneath were for fuel storage or use as ovens. Rare in Roman Britain, where ground-level hearths were usual, in spite of unresearched reconstructions in museums!
canalis, canalescanale, canali channel.
cardo, cardinescardo, cardines literally a hinge: hence in surveying a main north–south street; a term beloved by earlier archaeologists to show that they had allegedly read Vitruuius! Simply call it a main north–south street. Cf. decumanus.
cartibulum, cartibulatavolo, tavoli fancy display table, usually of marble, usually found in the atrium, facing the entrance.
caryatis, caryatides cariatide, cariatidi caryatid; carved female figure used as a support; cf. telamon.
casa, casaecasolare, casolari in Latin this was a very mean house or cottage, normally in the countryside; in Italian casa is any house, mean or grand.
casa, case in Italian a house of any quality: cf. the Latin term, above.
castellum aquae, castella aquae castello d’acqua, castelli d’acqua water tower.
catillus, catilli(as Latin) the upper of a pair of commercial millstones for grain, made of lava or a gritstone and shaped like an hour-glass; cf. meta.
caue canemattenti al cane “beware of the dog”, a notice sometimes found at the entrance of large houses, accompanied by a real dog (remains have been found) or one depicted in a mosaic or a fresco: e.g. Casa del Poeta Tragico, or Casa del Fauno.
cauea, caueae(as Latin) one of the three (or even more) general layers of seating in places of entertainment, each layer consisting of several stepped rows. The cauea ima or lowest layer was reserved for the magistrates, councillors, and important guests; the cauea media was for the bulk of the citizens; and by tradition the cauea summa or top section was for women and slaves. The rows were then divided into wedge-shaped sections, cunei (q.v.), as in modern theatres.
caupo, cauponisalbergatore, albergatori inn-keeper.
caupona, cauponaealbergo, alberghi inn, rooming house: the term usually implies disapproval.
cella, cellaestanza; dispensa or room of any kind; often a storage room or
–  –(as Latin) the main room inside a temple, containing an image of the deity and offerings given, a room private to the priests and attendants; altars were always outside.
cellae familiaricae  servants rooms
cella meretricia, cellae meretriciae stanzino di meretrice, stanzini ~? prostitute’s cubicle: some are over bakeries, some are beneath staircases, all are very small, sometimes with a masonry bed-base.
cella ostiaria, cellae ostiariae portineria door-keeper’s room.
cella penariadeposito room for provisions or storeroom
cella vinariacantina wine cellar or room
cenaculum, cenacula appartamento, appartamenti rented upstairs flat, apartment; originally an upstairs dining room.
cenatio, cenationessala da pranzo, sale ~ dining room of any kind; cf. triclinium.
chirurgus, chirurgichirurgo, chirurghi surgeon.
cippus, cippipietra tombale, pietre tombali boundary stone of land or of a burial plot, sometimes with measurements and owner’s name; cf. columella.
cisterna, cisternaecisterna, cisterne underground water-storage cistern beneath most large houses.
ciuitas, ciuitates or città, città (same) city (walled city itself + its local hinterland + its citizens); cf. urbs.
ciuitas (no pl.)cittadinanza citizenship.
clepsydra, clepsydrae clessidra, clessidre water clock.
cloaca, cloacaefogna, fogne sewer.
cocciopesto flooring of lime mortar and crushed pozzolana with inset small patterns of tesserae, usually white; otherwise more professionally a synonym for opus signinum, q.v.
collegium, collegiasocietà, (pl. same); circolo, circoli formal gathering or association of people for a religious or social purpose set up with a proper structure and officials.
columbarium, columbaria colombario, colombari literally a dovecote; and so from their similar layout a bookcase or an array of niches for holding cremation urns.
columella, columellae(as Latin?) simple tombstone, shaped roughly like a human head and torso and usually with a very simple text, but this usage seems uncommon, when compared with its other meanings; cf. cippus.
columna, columnaecolonna, colonne column.
compitum, compitaincrocio, incroci crossroads; and see Lares Compitales.
compluuium, compluuia compluvio, compluvi opening in the roof of most atria to admit light and air; its roof sloped inwards to funnel rain water through to the impluuium below.
contignatio, contignationes tavolato, tavolati wooden flooring, usually upstairs, or wooden panelling.
corona, coronaecornicione, cornicioni literally a crown, but in architecture a cornice.
crepido, crepidinescordolo del marciapiede, -doli ~ kerb (US curb).
crustae (pl.)scaglie (pl.) chips, irregular fragments of coloured stone, limestone, or (later) marble, set into or onto opus signinum floors.
crypta, cryptae; crupta, cruptae cripta, cripte literally a hidden room: a vaulted or other covered corridor, such those beneath the seating of the amphitheatre, sometimes used by prostitutes; a tunnel; an underground store.
cryptoporticus, cryptoportici criptoportico, criptoportici covered or semi-subterranean gallery or portico; uncommon, but cf. Casa del Criptoportico with a downstairs bath-suite; rarely used in Classical Latin, occurring three times only in Pliny’s Epistolae; cf. crypta, which should be preferred. [!!]
cubiculum, cubiculastanzo da letto, stanzi ~ or bedroom, usually very small and sometimes with a slight recess into one wall, perhaps for the bed head or a simple cupboard.
–  –camera da letto, camere ~ –  –
culina, culinaecucina, cucine kitchen, normally set somewhere towards the rear of the house.
cuneus, cuneicuneo, cunei? a “wedge” of seating in a theatre or amphitheatre.
cupido, cupidinesCupido; putto, putti Cupid himself, the son of Venus and Mars; or any decorative cupid; see “eros”.
curia, curiaepalazzo del senato, palazzi ~ Senate House (in Roma); elsewhere Council meeting-house.
dealbator, dealbatores segnatore, segnatori? literally a white-washer; a sign-writer for dipinti notices.
decumanus, decumani decumanus, decumani in surveying a main east–west street; a term beloved by earlier archaeologists to show that they had allegedly read Vitruuius! Simply call it a main east–west street. Cf. cardo.
decurio, decuriones decurione, decurioni decurion, decurions: councillor, member of the ordo, q.v.; normally a former aedilis or duumuir.
diaeta, diaetaedieta, diete; salone, saloni living room.
?dipinto, dipinti something painted on a wall, usually a text; cf. programma. Most so-called “graffiti” are really dipinti.
dolium, doliadolio, doli large thick wide-mouthed pottery jar, often sunk into bar counters; most were globular, but some were cylindrical.
dolium defossum, dolia defossa dolio sepolto, doli sepolti Some jars were sunken into the ground to near their tops for storing wine or oil or other things at a steady temperature.
domus, domus (same)palazzo, palazzi large town “residence”, or occasionally a grand street-level flat. Recently the Soprintendenza di Pompei has used this rather haphazardly to rename in Latin some larger houses in Pompeii where the owner’s name is thought to be known, which may look impressive, but it adds to the irritating confusion of names in assorted languages for a single site. The sites are in Italy, and so I suggest that they simply use their own Italian “casa” names.
ductus aquae (plural same) condotto, condotti water conduit, large pipe, channel.
duumuir, duouiri [!] duumviro, duumviri duumvir, duumvirs: the senior city administrators and judges, two being elected each year from former aediles.
emblema, emblemata (as Latin) a smallish central main decorative motif or feature within a larger design, such as in a mosaic or fresco, especially of the “Fourth Style” (q.v.), or in silver vessels or other metal objects.
euripus, euripi(as Latin) water channel as a decorative feature in a garden, and often lined with marble or stone, and embellished with fountains, bridges, and other items.
eros, erotes; cupido, cupidines putto, putti cupid; a representation of Eros, the young Greek god of love, usually as a small chubby child and often with bow and arrow. Then he became a common multiple decorative feature, as in modern iconography: cf. the cupids in the frieze at the Casa dei Vettii. Cupido in Latin is his equivalent as the god of sexual desire. He was the son of Aphrodite (Venus) and Ares (Mars).
exedra, exedraeesedra, esedre; soggiorno, -orni English pl. exedras; sitting room with an apse beside a garden or even in it. Grand tombs for women often take this form too.
fabrica, fabricae fabbrica, fabbriche any kind of workshop or factory.
fabrica ferrarii, fabricae -iorum fucina, fucine smithy.
familia, familiaefamiglia, famiglie a household of not only the immediate genetic family but also other wider family or dependants and any slaves or freedmen, whether living with them or not, all headed by the paterfamilias.
fauces (always plural) corridoio d’ingresso, corridoi ~ “the gullet”, the entrance passageway from the front door to the atrium.
fenestra, fenestraefinestro, finestri window.
ferrarius, ferrariifabbro, fabbri blacksmith.
fistula, fistulaetubo, tubi water pipe.
flamen, flaminesflamine, flamini priests of certain cults.
foculus, foculi; focus, foci braciere, bracieri brazier, the usual means of winter heating; cf. hypocaustum.
fons, fontesfontana, fontane fountain, public or within a house.
forica, foricaelatrina, latrine multi-seater lavatory, usually a public one; cf. latrina.
fornix, fornicesvolta (a botte), volte; fornice, -ci (barrel) vault; also used of the arched retaining wall at the southern edge of Herculaneum along the shore, where many bodies and some boats were found in 1980.
forum, forapiazza, piazze main square of a city, centre of its life, usually beside the basilica and surrounded by a portico, behind which would be at least one temple to a deity that protected the city and one to Roma et Augustus (Rome and the current emperor), possibly such other civic buildings as a curia and a macellum, and some shops. The open square was the site for weekly markets and public meetings.
forum boarium, fora boaria mercato del bestiame, mercati ~ cattle market.
forum olitorium, fora olitoria mercato d’erbaggi, mercati ~ vegetable market, green market.
frigidarium, frigidaria(as Latin) cold bath room, normally with a plunge bath.
fullo, fullones follatore, follatori fuller and launderer, who finished and cleaned both woven lengths of cloth and separate made-up garments.
fullonica, fullonicae follone, folloni fuller’s shop, where woollen cloth was finished and clothes were washed and dyed.
fundus, fundifattoria, fattorie farm.
–  –fondo, fondi now more a small estate or property, not necessarily farmed.
furnax, furnaces; furnus, furni forno, forni oven.
ganea, ganeae; ganeum, ganeamescita, mescite? snack bar of low quality; US dive.
ganea aleatoria, ganeae -riae? bisca, bische gambling den.
garum (no pl.)(as Latin) standard Roman condiment, prepared from fermented fish and salt; a main industry in Pompeii, whose garum was considered the best available. One manufacturer was M. Vmbricius Scaurus, whose tomb is outside the Porta di Ercolano at Pompeii.
gemmarius, gemmarii gioielliere, gioiellieri a cutter of gemstones, a jeweller.
genius, geniigenio, geni genius; the guardian spirit of a family or of any particular place.
gens, gentes(as Latin) a group of families with a common heritage.
graffito, graffiti something scratched on a wall, usually a text. Most so-called “graffiti” are really dipinti.
herma, hermae erma, erme herm: a short pillar topped originally with a bust of Hermes, but soon also of other deities or notables, perhaps a member of the family. Greek ones traditionally also had a phallus in front lower down; this is less common on Roman ones.
horreum, horreamagazzino, magazzine storehouse, warehouse, barn, granary.
hortus, hortigiardino, giardini or any type of pleasure garden or
–  –orto industriale, orti industriali market garden.
hospitium, hospitiaalbergo, alberghi guest-house, hotel, lodgings.
hydrologiaidraulica water system; water features.
hypocaustum, hypocausta ipocausto, ipocausti hot-air under-floor heating sytem, whereby the hot gases from an external furnace were drawn by convection to circulate through cavities beneath floors and within walls and sometimes inside vaulted roof spaces, escaping finally through roof vents. In Italy they were used most commonly to heat rooms in bath-houses, but in colder regions they were also used to heat rooms in larger houses. Their installation and maintenance was clearly expensive. Cf. foculus.
hypogaeum, hypogaeacantina, cantine cellar.
ianua, ianuae porta, porte door, doorway, usually with wooden bars behind for locking.
imbrex, imbrices(as Latin?) heavy earthenware roofing tiles of semicircular section; cf. tegula and antefix.
impluuium, impluuiaimpluvio, impluvi shallow rectangular basin set in the floor of most atria to catch rain water falling through a compluuium above and to channel it into a cisterna beneath; normally they were meant to be dry, but in a few houses there was fountain playing into the impluuium.
incrustatio, incrustationes impiallacciatura di marmo, -ri ~ marble veneer.
institor, institores negoziante, -nti; bottegaio, -gai shopkeeper.
instrumentum, instrumenta fornimento (usu. sg.) equipment, pieces of equipment.
insula, insulaecaseggiato, cassegiati or block of flats (Ostia, Roma), a modern usage; or
–  –isolato, isolati strictly in Latin a block of property under single ownership. The US sense of a block of properties surrounded by streets is also a modern usage at such sites as Pompeii, Herculaneum, or Ostia.
insularius, insularii custode, custodi agent, caretaker of an insula, responsible to the owner.
labrum, labra acquaio, acquai; lavandino, -ni or stone sink in a kitchen or with a garden fountain or
–  –bacino, bacini; vasca, vasche broad shallow and usually round stone cold water basin in the calidarium of a bath house.
laconicum, laconica(as Latin) very hot room in a bath house or suite for a dry bath without steam, a sauna, often circular with a domed and vented roof.
laniena, lanienaemacelleria, macellerie butcher’s shop.
lanista, lanistae(as Latin) trainer of gladiators.
lanternarius, lanternarii portafiaccola, portafiaccole lantern-bearer.
lapillus, lapilli (normally pl.) lapillo, lapilli literally a pebble; in modern usage refers to the small lava and pumice pebbles (commonly around 1–4 cm, ½"–1½" in diameter, but strictly 2–64 mm, c. Á/ÑÖ"–2½") that were ejected during the eruption of Vesuvius and inundated the surrounding area downwind. Smaller material is “ash”, and larger rocks are “bombs”.
Lar, Lares (usually pl.)deo della famiglia, dei ~; lari (pl.) gods, usually shown as two dancing young men, each with a cornucopia (horn of plenty), who protected the household.
lararium, lararialararium, lararia household shrine to the Lares: an altar, or a niche in a wall, or a miniature temple raised on a pedestal (see aedicula). In the niche or on the wall nearby was usually a painting of the two deities beside an altar, sometimes with other persons or deities, and one or two friendly snakes (agathodaemon, q.v.), or some combination of these, and often with a background of plants and flowers.
Lares Compitales (pl.)dei degli incroci the guardian spirits of crossroads worshipped at an altar, a niche in a wall, a painting, or some combination of these.
later, lateresmattone, mattoni brick; rather thinner than modern brick.
latrina, latrinaetoilette, toilette (same) single-seater lavatory, often in or by the kitchen for easier provision of drainage; cf. forica.
lavapesta almost black flooring made of ground lava bound with sand and lime and often relieved by simple patterns of white tesserae.
liberta, libertaeliberta, liberte freedwoman: freed slave; see next.
libertus, libertiliberto, liberti freedman: freed slave, taking the praenomen nomen and status of his former master with legal bonds of mutual loyalty remaining.
lignarius, lignarii legnaiolo, legnaioli or carpenter or
–  –negoziante di legname, -zianti ~ timber merchant.
lignum, ligna; materies (no pl.) legname (no pl.) timber (Latin pl. = pieces of timber).
limen, liminasoglia d’ingresso, soglie ~ threshold.
loricatio, loricationes cornice, cornici cornice.
lupanar, lupanariabordello, bordelli brothel.
macellum, macella mercato, mercati public market building with a central yard surrounded by rows of shops for the daily sale of fresh perishable produce, especially meat and fish. Most cities had these.
magister, magistrimaestro, maestri; capitano, -ni master in many senses—of pupils, of a uicus or pagus, of a ship.
maenianum, maenianabalcone, balconi balcony built out over over the street footpath (US sidewalk).
marmor, marmoramarmo, marmi marble in general: there are endless named colours and varieties. There are very good displays of samples with their names and sources in the Römisch-Germanisches Museum in Köln and in in the Museo di SS. Giovanni e Paolo beside the Clivus Scauri near the Colosseum in Rome
megalographia, megalographiae ? large-scale illustration as a picture or mosaic.
mensa, mensae?banco, banchi counter in shop.
mensa ponderaria, mensae -riae ? official weights and measures bench, as beside Pompeii forum.
meretrix, meretrices prostituta, -tute; meretrice, -trici prostitute.
meta, metae(as Latin) lower of a pair of commercial millstones for grain, usually made of lava or a gritstone and shaped at the top with a long conical taper and with a wide surrounding ledge at the base; cf. catillus; also, because of its shape, the turning post at a chariot-racing track; and hence later as a halfway point in general, as in Italian.
metopa, metopaemetopa, metope metope, metopes; flat panel with sculpted or painted rectangular scene, set between two triglyphs in a Doric frieze.
moenia (always pl.)le mura (pl.) city walls; cf. murus, paries.
mola, molaemulina, muline; mola, mole mill; millstone.
monumenta (pl.)necropoli, necropole cemetery, necropolis. These were always outside the city walls. The fancy tombs of wealthy citizens were set beside the roads leading from the city gates; poorer people were buried elsewhere.
munus, muneraservizio (pl. -zi) or soldi per la città service or funds donated by wealthy citizens for the benefit of their city: it might include contributions towards constructing, improving, or maintaining public buildings or providing such entertainment as gladiatorial shows.
murus, murimuro, muri any kind of wall; cf. moenia, paries.
natatio, natationes piscina, piscine swimming pool, sometimes with heated water.
negotiator, negotiatores negoziante, negozianti businessman of any kind.
negotium, negotiaaffare, affari business.
nymphaeum, nymphaeaninfeo, ninfei originally a shrine to water-nymphs, usually with a fountain, set in a garden as a focal point and decorated with such features as mosaics, niches, statues, fountains, and cascades.
odeum, odea teatro piccolo? covered theatre, as at Pompeii, VIII.7.19, Posillipo, or Naples.
oecos, oecisalone, saloni oecus; large reception room: a rare word, much overworked by modern scholars to show that they have read Vitruuius.
oecos Aegyptius, oeci Aegyptii salone egiziano, saloni egiziani in the form of a basilica, i.e. with an aisle on each side.
oecos Corinthius, oeci Corinthii salone corinzio, saloni corinzi looking like a canopy supported by pillars; rare in Pompeii; cf. Casa di Meleagro.
officina, officinaeofficina, officine workshop or any business place rather than a merely retail shop.
officina argentaria, -nae -tariae banca, banche banker’s office, bank.
officina ferraria, -nae ferrariae fucina, fucine blacksmith’s workshop, smithy.
officina lanifricaria, -nae -fricariae lanificio, lanifici woollen mill, wool shop
officina lignaria, -nae lignariae officina di legnaiolo, officine ~ timber merchant’s, carpenter’s?
officina olearia, -nae oleariae magazzino d’olio, magazzini ~ oil merchant’s.
officina quactiliaria, -nae -iariae feltificio, feltifici felt maker’s.
officina sutoria, -nae sutoriae calzoleria, calzolerie cobbler’s.
officina textoria, -nae textoriae negozio di tessuti or di stoffi, -zi ~ weaver’s, draper’s.
officina tinctoria, -nae tinctoriae tintoria, tintorie dyer’s.
officina uasaria, -nae uasariae officina di vasaio, officine ~ potter’s.
olearius, oliariinegoziante d’olio, negozianti ~ oil merchant.
opus …, opera …usually as Latin or opera ~ perhaps better to keep the Latin with the opus terms, which in this context usually mean types of construction; in the plural they mean examples of … . Some of the terms below may be modern coinages. For good diagrams and examples, though with some errors and clumsy English, see http://www.romanaqueducts.info/aquasite/hulp/tekopusbreed.htm. There is another very useful list in F. Coarelli, Rome and Environs, Un. of California press, Berkeley, 2007, pp. 536–40. Attempts to date structures by building styles are controversial.
opus africanumopera a telaio building technique in which horizontal and vertical rows of large stone blocks acted as frames, filled in with smaller stones.
opus album = opus tectorium stucco, stucchi stucco, moulded plasterwork; (pl.) examples of stucco.
opus caementiciumopera cementizia, or betone concrete: an aggregate of stone or brick rubble or of gravel bound with a mortar of sand, pozzolana, or lime. Its unattractive appearance was covered in various ways.
opus craticiumopera a graticcio half-timbering: economical and lighter building technique with square wooden frames filled with rubble, bound together with lime and clay, or with wattle and daub.
opus incertumopera incerta “rubble” (to the eye): opus caementicium dressed with uncoursed faces of medium-sized stones, all of the same kind or mixed.
opus latericium = opus testaceum opera laterizia or “brickwork” (to the eye): opus caementicium faced with tiles or bricks laid in regular, overlapping rows.
–  –costruzione in mattoni –  –
opus mixtumopera mista opus reticulatum broken at intervals by horizontal bands of brick.
opus museum; opus musiuum mosaico, mosaici mosaic.
opus quadratumopera quadrata, or taglio di pietra ashlar: large squared stone blocks laid in regular courses, sometimes without mortar.
opus quasi reticulatumopera quasi-reticolata opus caementicium covered with small pyramidal blocks less neatly arranged with their points embedded in the core of the wall and their exposed square bases tending to form the net-like diagonal pattern of opus reticulatum, but not too carefully so. The boundary with opus reticulatum is quite subjective.
opus reticulatumopera reticolata opus caementicium covered with small pyramidal blocks neatly arranged with their points embedded in the core of the wall and their exposed square bases forming a net-like diagonal pattern. It is often strengthened at corners and around doorways and windows by other techniques.
opus scutulatum(as Latin) pattern of three-dimensional trompe l’oeil perspective cubes.
opus sectile(as Latin), or marmo intarsiato inlaid marble: decoration of floors or walls with thin marble sheets of differing colours and veining, carefully cut and shaped to produce geometric patterns or even pictorial scenes.
opus segmentatum(as Latin) opus signinum? with marble chips inset.
opus signinum(as Latin), or cocciopesto concrete made from powdered tile, mixed with lime and sand, used to cover floors and walls to keep out moisture; may be decorated in various ways to improve the appearance. Apparently floors of this type date from pre-200 to 80 bc and go with the limestone (pre-200 bc) and tufa periods (200–80 bc).
opus spicatum(as Latin) a decorative technique where bricks, tiles, or pieces of stone are set in a herringbone pattern; it is usually found on floors and only occasionally in walls, where it will take little vertical or lateral loading and can only be used as a facing.
opus tectorium = opus album stucco, stucchi stucco: shaped or moulded plasterwork, found on walls and ceilings.
opus tessellatum(as Latin) tessellated floor: flooring of small and usually square pieces of tile or stone, larger than those used in a mosaic, and sometimes with a simple pattern or border; often used around more elaborate mosaics or in corridors.
opus testaceum = opus latericium opera testacea brickwork, at least in superficial appearance.
opus uermiculatum(as Latin) mosaic made of especially tiny tesserae.
opus uittatumopera vittata blocks of tufa broken at regular intervals by horizontal courses of brick.
opus uittatum mixtumopera vittata mista blocks of tufa broken at irregular intervals by horizontal courses of brick.
orchestra, orchestrae orchestra, orchestre the semicircular space between the seating and the stage in a theatre; originally in Greek theatres where the khoros danced.
ordo, ordinesconsiglio comunale, consigli -ali city council of about 100 men, decuriones (q. v.), who were mainly former elected officials. It met in the curia, if they had one, or in a temple.
ornamentum, ornamenta decorazione, decorazioni decoration item of decoration.
oscillum, oscilla(as Latin) plaques of marble, usually circular, carved on both sides and hung between columns in porticos, especially in peristyles. They may be decorative or apotropaic and sometimes related to the worship of Dionysus.
ostiarius, ostiarii portinaio, portinai doorkeeper, porter, who may have a room beside the main door.
ostium, ostiatelaio della porta, telai delle porte grand doorway, door frame.
pagus, pagi contrada, contrade? the smallest administrative unit of land outside a city, having its own officials, including a magister (contrada is apparently unofficial). An inscription records a Pagus Augustus Felix Suburbanus outside Pompeii, but its boundaries are unknown.
palaestra, palaestrae palestra, -stre; quadriportico, -ci a spacious open exercise ground, usually surrounded by porticos; either a separate structure or a part of a large public bath house.
parados, paradoi? passageway to the orchestra of a theatre in front of either end of the stage; at Pompeii they are tunnelled under the ends of the cauea. A Greek term, apparently not attested in Classical Latin, but often used in modern descriptions of classical theatres.
paries, parietesparete, pareti internal partition wall; cf. moenia, murus.
pauimentum, pauimenta pavimento, pavimenti floor.
pensile, pensili “hanging”, sometimes used in Italian with “balcone” for a maenianum.
penates (pl.)penati (pl.) Penates, the gods who looked after a family’s food supply.
pergula, pergulaesoffita, soffite or living accommodation above a shop or workshop or
–  –pergola, pergole garden pergola.
(templum) peripteron(tempio) periptero (temple) completely surrounded by a circuit of pillars.
peristylium, peristylia peristilio, peristili peristyle: garden surrounded on all or most sides by porticos.
phallus, phallifallo, falli the erect male organ.
pictura, picturaeaffresco, affreschi or fresco, frescos or
–  –pittura murale; pitture murali or wall painting of any kind, but generally fresco or
–  –quadro, quadri a painting as an individual object, especially on a panel.
pinacotheca, pinacothecae pinacoteca, pinacoteche picture gallery.
pinax, pinacestavola, tavole; quadretto, -retti painting on a board or in a frame for standing or hanging.
piscina, piscinaepiscina, piscine garden pool; swimming pool.
pistor, pistorespanettiere, panettieri miller, baker.
pistrinum, pistrina panificio, panifici grain mill and bakery with grindstones, large oven, etc.
pluteus, pluteipluteo, plutei parapet or balustrade, usually decorated.
pomerarius, pomerarii fruttivendolo, fruttivendoli fruiterer.
pomerium(as Latin?) originally the cleared security strip outside city walls, where no building, burials, or other work was allowed; later simply the line of the official city boundary.
popina, popinaebar, bar (pl. same) bar, snack bar, take-away, “pop-in” [!], common throughout Pompeii (131 so far in a rough check of my incomplete database), Herculaneum, and Ostia, and presumably other cities; recognised by counters with built-in dolia (q.v.) and often situated on street corners, near major places of recreation, and near city gateways. The term is common and did not imply disapproval, whereas caupona and ganea did, while “thermopolium” is a modern resurrection of an antique Latin literary term copied from Greek in plays that were themselves copied from Greek.
porticus, porticus (same) portico, portici portico, colonnade, verandah; covered walkway fronted by a row of pillars.
porticus corinthius, -cus -nthii portico corinzio, portici corinzi colonnade of Corinthian columns: shallow moulded base, usually fluted columns perhaps with decoration in the flutes, and a very elaborate slightly concave capital, the abacus, decorated with carved acanthus leaves and ending in small scrolls at the corners.
porticus doricus, porticus dorici portico dorico, portici dorichi colonnade of Doric columns: fluted columns springing directly from the stylobate, and its capital has a simple spreading moulding, the echinus, topped by a shallow square block, the abacus.
porticus ionicus, porticus ionici portico ionico, portici ionichi colonnade of Ionian columns: fluted columns standing on a shallow moulded base and topped by a capital, the abacus, ending in distinctive large volutes (spirals) at each corner.
posticum, posticapostico, -chi or porta posteriore, porte -ri or porte laterale, porte -le rear door or side door.
postis, postes (usually pl.) stipite, stipiti door post, doorway.
pozzolana fine volcanic ash, which, when mixed with lime and water, produces concrete.
praedium, praedia(as Latin) piece of land inside or outside a city under a single owner.
praefurnium, praefurnia camera delle caldaie, camere ~ stoking room for furnace.
il primo stile the First Style: sometimes called the structural, incrustation, or masonry style, 3rd to early 1st cent. bc. It imitated walls built in elaborate opus quadratum or covered with marble slabs, often with low relief in stucco and coloured. See “i quattro stili”.
programma, programmata(as Latin) Greek term: election notice painted on a wall. See dipinto.
pronaus, pronai; pronaos, pronai pronao, pronai portico or ante-room in front of the cella of a temple.
propylaea (pl.)(as Latin) fancy gateway before a temple.
(templum) prostylon; (-la) -la (tempio) prostilo; templi -stili prostyle (temple); with a row of pillars across the front.
puluinar, puluinaria(as Latin?) pulvinar, pulvinars; architectural element on top of a capital, acting as a support for the architrave and occasionally decorated.
purgamenta (pl.)fognatura (no pl?) effluent, waste.
puteal, putealiasponda, sponde protective surround of a well or a cistern shaft, most commonly a large single decorated hollow stone or sometimes an earthenware piece, but occasionally built up in stonework.
puteus, puteipozzo, pozzi real well, or more commonly a shaft giving access to an underground cistern.
quactiliarius, quactiliariifeltraiolo, feltraioli felt maker.
quadriporticus (rare), -portici quadriportico, quadriportici open structure with inside porticos around all the four sides.
quaestor, quaestores questore, questori one of a pair of annually elected city officials, who were responsible for public funds.
i quattro stili the four styles of fresco painting traditionally identified at Pompeii and other Roman sites by August Mau in 1882.
il quarto stile the Fourth Style: sometimes called the fantastic or intricate style, second half of the 1st cent. ad, appears after the earthquake at Pompeii and in the Golden House of Nero in Rome. See “i quattro stili”. Architectural scenes like those of the Second Style become more fanciful and are set out in the manner of the Third. Also still-life scenes, portraits, and sculpture are sometimes used in the emblemata, the central motifs.
regione, regioni purely modern term for a grouping of several insulae.
quinquennalis, quinquennales quinquennale, quinquennali the “five-yearers” were the duouiri elected every fifth year and they had extra responsibilities, rather like the censores in Republican Rome: they reviewed the list of citizens and of the decurions and let city contracts. Sometimes a city would offer the emperor the post as their quinquennalis, which he would decline graciously and suggest instead a distinguished citizen of their own, whose name they had provided to bring him to the emperor’s attention: this being the whole purpose of the charade.
repagula (always pl.) sbarra da porta, sbarre ~? bars for doors.
scaena, scaenae ? the structure at the flat end of a theatre, comprising the stage itself, its often grandiose architectural backdrop, the curtain machinery, and often store and other rooms behind.
scaenae frons, scaenarum frontes ? the architectural backdrop of a theatre.
scalae (always pl.)scale (pl.) flight of stairs, staircase, with stone or wooden steps.
schola, scholae(as Latin) semi-circular area with seating; also a tomb of this shape, usually for a woman; apse; cf. exedra. (It has other meanings.)
il secondo stile Second Style: sometimes called the architectural or architectonic style, early 1st cent. to 20 bc. Elaborate building scenes were shown on flat walls by skillful use of perspective and trompe l’oeil. See “i quattro stili”.
semita, semitaemarciapiede, marciapiedi footpath, pavement; US sidewalk.
signum, signasegno, segni; statua, statue basically any sign; also common for a statue, cf. statua. (It has other meanings.)
signum, signaplacchetta, placchette plaque, sign on wall.
silex (normally sg.)? any hard rock, such as lava or flint used in paving or building or construction work, including road surfaces, as at Pompeii.
silicarius, silicarii lastraiolo, lastraioli paviour.
sistrum, sistra(as Latin) a metal rattle used in the worship of the Egyptian goddess Isis.
solum (no pl.)suolo; terra ground, floor.
sphaeristerium, sphaeristeria campo da palle, campi ~ ball court.
stabulum, stabulascuderia, scuderie stable; also a derogatory term for a house or a prostitute’s cubicle.
statua, statuaestatua, statue statue; cf. signum.
studium inscriptionum? epigrafia epigraphy, the study of inscriptions.
stylobates, stylobatae stilobate, stilobati stylobate; the base for a row of columns.
subsellium, subselliapanca, panche bench, sometimes found outside doorways of large houses.
suggestum, suggesta(as Latin) or tribuna raised dais, platform, podium.
supellex, supellectiles suppellettili (pl.); arredi (pl.) furniture, furnishings.
suspensura, suspensurae(as Latin) the supporting system for a suspended floor with space below for ventilation or heating; sometimes refers to the actual supports.
sutor, sutorescalzolaio, calzolai shoe-maker, cobbler.
sutrina, sutrinaecalzoleria, calzolerie shoe-shop, cobbler’s.
taberna, tabernae bottega, botteghe any shop or workshop, often marked by a wide doorway with longitudinal grooves for closing shutters, usually with evidence for accommodation and storage above and sometimes with rooms behind; sometimes with access from a large house behind. Sometimes an inn.
taberna libraria, -nae librariae libreria, librerie bookseller’s, book-shop.
tabernarius, tabernarii bottegante, botteganti inn-keeper or shop-keeper.
tablinum, tablinastudio, studi usually set between the atrium and the peristylium, traditionally the master’s study, but often a formal reception room.
tabularium, tabularia(as Latin) city archive (building).
tapete, tapetiatapetto, tapetti carpet.
tector, tectores intonacatore, intonacatori stucco worker, plasterer.
tectum, tectatetto, tetti roof, usually covered by heavy tegula and imbrex pantiles.
tegula, tegulaetegola, tegole heavy flat earthenware roofing tiles with flanges; cf. imbrex.
tegula mammata, tegulae -tae (as Latin) heavy flat earthenware tiles with mammae, “teats”, behind that acted as spacers; used as a wall cladding to create a space for the circulation of hot air from a hypocaust system.
telamon, telamonestelamone, telamoni telamon, male figure carved like Atlas and used as a support for a cornice, shelf, or other projection; cf. caryatid.
templum, templatempio, templi temple.
tepidarium, tepidaria tepidario, tepidari warm room in a steam bath suite.
il terzo stile Third Style: sometimes called the ornamental or ornate style, 20 bc to ad 50, starting in the early part of Augustus’ reign. The background is divided by plant or linear architectural elements into vertical and horizontal sections with small decorative motifs or panels in the centre on monochromatic backgrounds, like a tiny floating landscape. See “i quattro stili”.
tessera, tesseraetessera, tessere small shaped piece of stone, marble, tile, or glass, as used in mosaics.
textor, textores (m.) tessitore, tessitori weaver (man).
textrina, textrinae tessitoria, tessitorie weaver’s workplace.
textrix, textrices (f.) tessitrice, tessitrici weaver (woman).
theatrum, theatrateatro, teatri theatre, a semicircular structure with a raised stage in front of a curve of stepped seating and used for presenting plays, farces, readings, and musical shows.
thermae (always pl.)bagni (pl.); terme (pl.) large public bath house, offering both steam (“Turkish”) baths and dry (sauna) baths. They normally also had a palaestra and perhaps ball courts and a swimming pool. Very elaborate ones may be adorned with statues, picture galleries, and libraries.
thermopolium, thermopolia [!!] bar, bar (same) snack bar; a Greek term, found rarely in third-century BC Roman comedies that had been translated from Greek ones, but then foisted into modern usage by classicists only experienced in such school classical literature! Avoid this poor antique literary Latin term and use the normal Latin word, popina (above), and in Italian use their normal word, bar!
tholus, tholitholos, tholi small circular building or tomb, usually supported entirely by pillars and with a domed roof.
thyrsus, thyrsitirso, tirsi long stick with a pine-cone tip and decked with ivy and vines, used by Dionysus and his followers.
tofus, tofitufo, tufi tufa, tuff: light and porous volcanic rock, grey, brown, or yellow.
tofus Nocerae?tufo di Nocera greyish tufa from near Nocera and used in Pompeii.
torcular, torcularia(as Latin) wine or olive press.
trapezophorus, -phori (usu. pl.) trapezoforo, trapezofori end supports for a fancy table, cartibulum, usually of carved marble or wood or cast and chased bronze.
triclinium, tricliniasala or stanza da pranzo, sale or stanze ~ formal dining room with three large couches and a central table. Inside the house they were normally beside the atrium, and the furniture was of timber with metal fittings. Often further triclinia are found outside in the garden, where they were normally of masonry or concrete sloping upwards towards the centre of the group, and matresses would be placed on them as needed. Both types were set around three sides of a square or occasionally a round support for a wooden table, on which the food arrived.
triclinium aestiuum, -nia aestiua? sala da pranzo estiva, sale ~ -ve so-called summer dining room beside a garden or peristylium or even within it: apparently a modern term.
triglyphus, triglyphi triglifo, triglifi triglyph; rectangular block with a motif of two vertical grooves to form a three-part panel and alternating with metopes (q.v.) as an element of a Doric frieze.
triuiae (always pl.) incrocio, incroci junction, crossroads.
tubulus, tubuli(as Latin) tubular tile, usually of rectangular section, used to form flues within the thickness of walls to allow the circulation of hot air from a hypocaust system.
ualua, ualuae imposta, imposte door itself, sometimes of two leaves; (in plural) shop shutters.
uelum, uelatenda, tende? awning, drawn over the open roof of a theatre or amphitheatre.
uenatio, uenationescaccia, caccie wild animal hunt, real or in an amphitheatre show, and a common scene on frescos.
uestibulum, uestibulaatrio, atri [!] small recessed area immediately outside the front door of a large house.
uia, uiaevia, vie street, road, way; US pavement.
uicus, uicistrada, strade; vicolo, vicoli street; also an administrative division of a city with minor officials, including a magister; uicus has other uses.
uilicus, uiliciagente di campagna, agenti ~ farm-manager or caretaker of a uilla; bailiff, agent; responsible to the owner.
uilla, uillaevilla, ville in Latin always a country house or estate, outside city walls.
uilla maritima, uillae maritimae villa maritima, ville maritime villa by the sea, usually run as a luxurious country retreat.
uilla rustica, uillae rusticae villa rustica, ville rustiche villa run as a working farm – the majority.
uilla urbana, uillae urbanae villa urbana, ville urbane villa run as a luxurious country retreat, in the style of city society, and not a villa in a city.
uilla suburbana, uillae suburbanae villa suburbana, ville suburbane villa run as a luxurious house close by a city.
uinea, uineaevigna, vigne vineyard.
uiridarium, uiridaria giardino, giardini ornamental garden with flowers, shrubs, and other greenery.
urbs, urbescittà, città (pl. same) city (the walled city itself); cf. ciuitas.
xenium, xenia; xenion, xenia(as Latin) still-life picture showing food (common item, though a rarely met term).