What is an appropriate Latin word for a knob that controls something else, such as a volume control knob, a light dimmer, the tuning control on a radio, the temperature control knob on a space heater, etc.?

It doesn't need to be Classical Latin, of course. I figure there must be some precedent in New Latin. Or coin a word in Latin style if you need to. (I suspect that control knobs were in use in Ancient Greece and even earlier, but I don't know.)

  • 2
    Perhaps bulla, which is used for a door-knob?
    – brianpck
    Aug 14, 2019 at 17:25
  • I don't have an answer. One thing this question brought to my mind is tuning pins/pegs on instruments, which seem somewhat similar in function, but I don't know what Latin words are used to refer to those.
    – Asteroides
    Aug 14, 2019 at 19:37
  • @sumelic, That's a nice idea. For what it's worth, the Latin Wikipedia page for Testudo (instrumentum musicum) refers to them as 'manubria vel turbines ob intendendos nervos'; but I'm not sure what evidence exists for those terms (and I have an automatic distrust of any source that starts with wik(i)). If that page is correct, though, manubrium or turbo would work. I have to say, my first thought was bulla (as suggested by brianpck) or umbilicus.
    – cnread
    Aug 14, 2019 at 20:51
  • 1
    @brianpck Surely there's no doubt about bulla? Smith & Hall offer several interesting possibilties, but bulla is the top one. Why don't you make it a proper answer?
    – Tom Cotton
    Aug 15, 2019 at 9:41
  • Another possible source of precedent: medieval and renaissance writings about pipe organs. Hmm, Theophilus
    – Ben Kovitz
    Aug 15, 2019 at 13:31

1 Answer 1


One option is bulla, which can be used to refer to a door-knob, as in the below quote from Plautus:

jussine in splendorem dari bullas has foribus nostris? Plautus, As., 2:4:20

It has a range of other, quite different meanings, like "bubble" and even "amulet," but with proper context it should do the trick!

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