FreeREG logo

Latin Words to Recognise

See also

First, do not be in awe of old registers written in Latin. There are only a few words to learn to recognise! Something that looks like "baptize" is baptize, something that looks like "matrimony" is a marriage, and something that looks like "mortus" is a burial. "Gemini" .... sure... is twins. There are a few more, but you get the idea?

Baptisms
filius		son of      (I remember this as: ends in "us" = male)
filia		daughter of (I remember this as: ends in "a"  = female)
		(the same often applies to male and female names)
et		and
baptizavi	I have baptised
natus		born (male)
nata		born (female)
gemelli, gemini	twins
trigemini	triplets

Marriages
nupsit		married
matrimonium	matrimony
licentiam	by licence
bannum		by banns

Burials
		Any word that looks like mortuary or obituary!
mortus		died
sepultavi	I have buried
dormit		sleeping
corpus		the body

General
parochia	parish
in comitatu	in the county of (I remember this as "community")
in agro		in the county of (literally in the field of)
ibidem		of the same place
extraneus	a stranger

So you see that when transcribing registers into a baptism database, we are just looking for key words such as "filia" (daughter) or "filius" (son), "baptizavi" plus the names. Don't worry about the latin grammar of names with "es" and "is" endings. You will recognise the names anyway. For example: "Baptizi Johannes filius Johannis et Joanna Smith". "I have baptized John son of John and Joan Smith".

Marriages have two surnames, and the word "matrimonium" or "nupsit" (married).
Watch out for "parochia" (parish) with a different place name ("John Smith of the parish of Littledean")

Burials have "sepultavi" or "mortus".

And bear in mind that a great number of clergymen didn't really understand Latin that well either, so they made mistakes. And when in doubt, wrote it in English and make it look like Latin !

If you want to refer to a really excellent booklet on Latin, look no further than
"Simple Latin for Family Historians" by Eve McLaughlin.

(No apologies for the blatant plug. She deserves it!)

Eve McLaughlin, Varneys, Rudds Lane, Haddenham, Aylesbury, Bucks. HP17 8JP
E-mail: eve@varneys.demon.co.uk


see also:
Latin names
Old English and abbreviated names
Numbers and dates to recognise

FreeREG Home page


If you experience errors while using FreeREG please report them to the Webmasters, indicating what you were doing (i.e. submitting, searching), the URL of the page involved and the exact time (and timezone) where it occurred. If you have suggestions on improvements to FreeREG please make them to the FreeREG Executive. If you believe there to be a problem with any of the data entered into the database please contact the Corrections Coordinators. In your email please include information on the county and place of the record.
© 1998-2013 The website, its layout, search engine, and database are copyright by the Trustees of FreeBMD, a charity registered in England and Wales, Number 1096940.
We make no warranty whatsoever as to the accuracy or completeness of the FreeREG data. Use of the FreeREG website is conditional upon acceptance of the Terms and Conditions