www.mobot.org Research Home | Search | Contact | Site Map  

North America
South America
General Taxonomy
Photo Essays
Training in Latin

Wm. L. Brown Center
Graduate Studies
Research Experiences
  for Undergraduates

Imaging Lab
MBG Press
Climate Change
Catalog Fossil Plants
Image Index
Rare Books

Res Botanica
All Databases
What's New?
People at MO
Visitor's Guide
Jobs & Fellowships
Research Links
Site Map


Browse by Keyword





A Grammatical Dictionary of Botanical Latin

Abbreviations and Signs

NOTE: [A&S], [B&H), [C&A], [S&D], [Steph.] and [WIII] are explained in the bibliography.

> ‘derived from.’

= equal to, the equivalent of; the word(s) after the equal sign are with the same meaning as either the entry word, or the word(s) preceding the equal sign; note that on some occasions the equal sign indicates that the following word is a synonym.

e.g.  Abyssinian and Arabian Tea = Catha edulis; Black or Japanese Tea = Camellia sinensis; Balm Tea = Melissa officinalis; Oswego Tea = Monarda didyma; Siberian Tea = Potentilla rupestris (Uphof 1968).

& ‘and’

e.g. Ainsworth & Bisby, ‘Ainsworth and Bisby’ (as authors).

! see 'exclamation mark' in the body of the dictionary [ = 'seen by the author'].

Presentation of the Verb

The four principle parts of the Latin verb are a bibliographic convention associated with Latin paradigms generally used in Latin dictionaries, grammars and texts used in teaching.

Latin is an inflected language and, as with the declension of its nouns, its verbs are conjugated. The noun has five declensions, the verb has four conjugations: 1., 2., 3., 4 (first, second, third, fourth) based on the form of the infinitive (specifically the present active infinitive).

The tenses of the Latin verb are expressed by endings made on:

  1. the Present stem (the present, future and imperfect tenses) or
  2. the Perfect (active or passive) stem (the perfect, i.e. present perfect, the future perfect and pluperfect, i.e. past perfect tenses:

present stem + endings      perfect active stem + endings, etc.

The four principal parts of the Latin verb are:

  1. the present active indicative, in the first person singular, which always ends in -o,
  2. the perfect active indicative, in the first person singular, which always ends in -i.
  3. the perfect passive participle (ending in -a,-i or vowelless) + -tus,-a,-um), given in its neuter singular form, -tum, always declined as an A adjective.
  4. the present active infinitive, represented in this dictionary with a numerical sign (1,2,3,4), rather than its last three letters (1. -are, 2. -Ere,3. -ere, 4. -ire).


  1. habito,-avi,-atum, 1. to inhabit, dwell; cribro,-avi,-atum, 1., to pass through a sieve, to sift; fragro,-avi,-atum 1., to emit a pleasant odor;

    example: conferruminatus,-a,-um (part.A): fused, joined together [> L. con-ferrumino, 1., to cement, to solder together].

  2. habeo, habui, habitum 2., to have; oleo,-lui, 2., to smell, to emit a smell, to smell of anything; pateo,-tui, 2., to stand open, stretch out, extend;

    example: patens,-entis (part.B): patent, spreading, outspread, diverging from the axis at almost 90*; spreading at 45* or more, sometimes used to mean spreading 26-45* [> L. pateo,-tui, 2., to stand open, stretch out, extend; also to be clear, to be disclosed].

  3. cresco,-crevi, cretum 3., to grow; includo, -cludi,-clusum, 3., to shut up, shut in, enclose; pingo, pinxi, pictum, 3., to paint, stain, color, to represent in a picture;

    example: submergens,-entis (part.B): submergent, "Descending from above the water surface to a point beneath it" (Kiger & Porter 2001) [> L. submergo,-mersi,-mersum 3., to plunge under, as in water, to sink];

  4. capio, capere, cepi, captum 4., to take into the hand, take hold of; to put on clothing; to seize hold of; to catch hold of; to obtain; to get, obtain; invenio, inveni, inventum 4., to discover, to find, meet with, ascertain, learn; venio, veni, ventum, 4., to come; vestio, -ivi,-itum, 4., to cover with a garment, clothe;

    example: apertus,-a,-um (part.A): open, opened, exposed, uncovered; to open an entrance to, rendered accessible; discovered [> L. aperio,-ire,-erui,-ertum, 4. to uncover, lay bare, expose to view, reveal; to open what had been shut, to unclose, open up]; opp. clausus,-a, -um (part.A), closed;  cf. hians,-antis (part.B): gaping, open-mouthed.

Note that considerable variation occurs within particular verbs, some principle parts not known or recorded in classical times, hence omitted from this dictionary. Note also that often whether the vowel is long or short is important in conjugating the verb in text, but the macron and micron is not indicated in this text and so the length of the vowel is not given, for example, the long ‘e’ in the second conjugation, and the short ‘e’ in the third. Standard Latin grammars and dictionaries must be consulted for further information.

abbr. abbreviation;
e.g. t., tab. (abbr.): tabula,-ae (s.f.I): plate, illustration.

abl. ablative case.

acc. accusative case.

adj. adjective.

adj.A, this group of adjectives are usually called the first and second declension adjectives, their endings in the nominative singular are generally three: -us,-a,-um (a few end in -er,-era,-erum), corresponding to the masculine, feminine and neuter genders, and are the same as nouns of the first and second declension.

adj.B, this group of adjectives are usually called third declension adjectives as they generally use third declension i-stem noun forms; the ablative singular of all genders of adjectives of this type always end in -i (usually -e in third declension nouns). Their endings are usually two: the masculine and feminine are represented by the -is ending in the nominative singular, and the neuter is represented by -e. Some adjs. of this type have one ending for all three genders.

adj.C, following Stearn (1983), represents two adjective types deriving from Greek adjectives. These end in -oides or -odes in all three genera in the nominative singular. Both adjectives end in -e in the abl. sg.

adv. adverb.

adv. phrase, adverbial phrase.

Aeol., Aeolic, in the Aeolic dialect of the Greek language.

c. [in dictionaries, sometimes ‘comm.’] of nouns, common (gender), shared, when the gender of the noun is related to and determined by the actual gender of the person (or plant, animal) referred to by the noun;

e.g the gender of words ending in -cola,-ae (s.c.I), ‘-dwelling’ depends also on the gender of the creature referred to: senticola,-ae, ‘briar-dweller’ may be masculine or feminine; anas,-atis (s.c.III), the duck.

cf. confer (compare);

e.g. caper, gen. sg. capri (s.m.III), abl. sg. capro, a he-goat, a goat (cf. Gk. kapros (s.m.II), the wild boar): the use of caper in Latin is to be compared with its use in Greek.

chem. chemistry.

conj. conjunction.

comp. compounds, or compound words; in Gk. comp., ‘in Greek compounds;’ in L. comp.,’ in Latin compounds.’

compar. comparative,, the form of adjectives and adverbs that means ‘more’ of the qualifier; e.g. aculeatus,-a,-um (adj.A), ‘spiney,’ compar. aculeatior,-ius (adj.B), ‘more spiney, spinier,  superl. aculeatissimus,-a,-um (adj.A) ‘most spiney, very spiney.’

NOTE: the comparative: the ending -ior refers to the masculine and feminine forms of the comparative adjective, the ending -ius refers to the neuter forms.

e.g. rare (adv.) far apart, sparsely, thinly, rarely, compar. rarius (adv.), ‘more rarely,’ superl. rarissime (adv.) ‘most rarely.’

NOTE: remember that in Latin adverbs are not declined (they are indeclineable).

dat. dative case.

dim. diminutive, diminutive of;
- capreola,-ae (s.f.I), dim. caprea,-ae (s.f.I), capreola is the diminutive of the noun caprea, -olus,-a,-um (adj.A) being a diminutive suffix..

distr. distributive.

ed. editio,-onis (s.f.III): edition, usually a revision of an initial publication;

e.g. ed. 2, the second edition, ed 3, third edition; (Ainsworth & Bisby ed 5) = the fifth edition of Ainsworth & Bisby’s Dictionary of the Fungi.

e.g. exempli gratia, ‘for the sake of example’, for instance, for example.

Eng. English.

esp. especially.
used esp. of the spores and winter buds of various plants (WIII).

etc. ‘et caetera,’ ‘et cetera,’ ‘and the rest,’ indicates that a few examples are mentioned or cited out of a series or set;

e.g. caper, tragus, etc. refer to a rank, filthy smell, especially associated with the armpits.

f. femine gender, e.g. sectio,-onis (s.f.III), singular, feminine, third declension.

fo. forma (s.f.I), the subspecific taxonomic rank ‘form;’

e.g. Abies balsamea (L.) Mill. fo. hudsonia (Jacques) Fern. & Weath.

fr. from; > = 'derived from'.

gen. genitive case; Pholiota abietis (gen.sg.), the epithet ‘abietis’ is the genitive singular of abies,-etis (s.f.III), the fir-tree = ‘the Pholiota of the fir-tree.’

Ger. German.

Gk. Greek.
I, Roman numeral, indicating a first declension noun.

e.g. aboospora,-ae (s.f.I), singular, feminine, first declension.

II, Roman numeral, indicating a second declension noun.

e.g. lobus,-i (s.m.II), singular, masculine, second declension.

III, Roman numeral, indicating a third declension noun.

e.g. abdomen,-inis (s.n.III), singular, neuter, third declension.

IV, Roman numeral, indicating a fourth declension noun.

e.g. abortus,-us (s.m.IV), singular, neuter, fourth declension.

V, Roman numeral, indicating a fifth declension noun.

e.g. acies,-ei (s.f.V), singular, feminine, fifth declension.

NOTE: the noun is given in its nominative singular form. The letters after the ‘dash’ sign indicate the ending of the genitive singular, from which the forms of all the other cases can be derived. The form in the ablative singular is usually also given in the text as an aide to the forms in the other cases.

i.e. id est, ‘that is’ to clarify a preceding statement just made, to provide an alternative phrasing to a preceding translation;

e.g. cellulae divisiones subeuntes, cells undergoing [i.e. coming under] divisions.

indecl. = indeclinable noun, a noun spelled the same in all cases; see Indeclinable Noun;

e.g. catechu (indecl. s.n.--), indeclinable, singular, neuter.

NOTE: in Latin, all adverbs are also not declined.

inf. infinitive.

irreg. irregular.

e.g. prolatus,-a,-um (part.A): extended, elongated, lengthened, enlarged, drawn out towards the poles, prolate (describing pollen) [> L. profero,-tuli,-latum, proferre, irreg. 3]. This is an irregularly conjugated verb of the third conjugation.

ISV: International Scientific Vocabulary.

L. Latin.

lit. literally.

LL. Late Latin.

m. masculine gender;

e.g. alvus,-i (s.m.II), singular, masculine, second declension.

med. medicine.

ML Medieval Latin.

n. neuter gender;

e.g. stigma,-atis (s.n.III), singular, neuter, third declension.

NL New or Neo Latin.

nom. nominative case.

num. numeral.

obsol. obsolete, the word(s) “obsolete, or objectionable, or rarely used in the sense given” (Lindley).

opp. opposite of, i.e. the antonym of the entry word, a word meaning the opposite of another word;

- e.g. rarus,-a,-um (adj.A): “having wide interstices between its parts, of a loose texture, not thick or dense, thin; opp. densus” (Lewis & Short); opp. confertus,-a,-um (part.A), ‘crammed together;’ of things, (standing) far apart, here and there, scattered, dispersed, thin, scanty; opp. densus, confertus, solidus; in small numbers, few, rare (cf. paucus); cf. sparsus,-a,-um (part.A), scattered, strewn, sprinkled.’

part. participle, a verbal adjective.

part. A, the perfect passive participle of a verb, declined like adj. A.

part. B, the present active participle of a verb, declined generally like a B adjective.

pharm. pharmaceutical.

pl. plural.

pr. part. present participle.

prep. preposition.

pron. pronoun.

q.v. quod videas or quod vide, ‘which see;’ following a word indicates to the reader that that word is explained where it occurs alphabetically elsewhere in the dictionary;

e.g.  chin: mentum,-i (s.n.II), q.v.’ indicates that the word ‘mentum’ is explained in its alphabetical place under the letter ‘m.’

reg. regular;

e.g. ambiens, gen. sg. ambientis (reg. part.B): the participle is declined according to the usual rule for B participles (not, e.g., ambiens, gen.sg. ambeuntis).

sg. singular.

sc. scilicet (that is to say, namely) "> L. scire, to know + licet, it is permitted > licere, to be permitted.  'to wit, namely [videlicet]' used before a word that is to be supplied or understood, especially used when an adjective or participle is used alone, leaving out the noun it qualifies, but retaining the gender and number of such noun;

e.g. armenium,-ii (s.n.II), abl. sg. armenio: sc. pigmentum: a fine blue color obtained from an Armenian stone, ultramarine; armenium,-ii (s.n.II), sc. pomum, the apricot.

e.g. Januarius, sc. mensis (s.m.III), the month January.

e.g. continens,-entis, sc. terra.

superl. superlative, the form of adjectives and adverbs that means ‘most,’ or‘very’ of the qualifier;

e.g. aculeatus,-a,-um (adj.A), ‘spiny,’ compar. aculeatior,-ius (adj.B), ‘more spiny, spinier,  superl. aculeatissimus,-a,-um (adj.A) ‘most spiny, very spiny.’

e.g. rare (adv.) far apart, sparsely, thinly, rarely, compar. rarius (adv.), ‘more rarely,’ superl. rarissime (adv.) ‘most rarely.’

syn.synonym, used to refer to a word with the same or nearly the same meaning as another word, such as the main entry; occasionally the equal sign (=) is used in its place;

e.g. syn-: in Gk. comp. = gam-, gamo-, q.v.; = L. cum, q.v.

usu. usually.
e.g. Dell (English): “a small secluded natural hollow or valley usu. covered with trees".

v. vide (see); used to encourage the reader to consult another word that may be of use or interest; cf. ‘q.v.’

Copyright © P. M. Eckel 2010-2024

© 1995-2024 Missouri Botanical Garden, All Rights Reserved
4344 Shaw Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63110
(314) 577-5100

Technical Support