I'm figuring that if I want to talk about "refurbishing" something, then renovare is a pretty good verb to use, or perhaps reficere (depending on how beat up it was).

If I want to talk about "reusing" it, then iterum uti actually makes a lot of sense.

But how do I talk about "recycling" something? Ad reversum or in se versum mittere? That seems a little twee.

4 Answers 4


How about the verb circumagere? The translations include "to drive or turn in a circle, to turn round, to drive around, to produce by going around". I think "to make something go in a circle" is pretty close to "to recycle".

You might sometimes want to clarify the translation by adding more words, but I believe in most contexts there is little danger of confusion. (Perhaps you could parse the English "to recycle" as "to ride a bike again", but this ambiguity is not a real issue, is it?)

Ho do these examples sound to you?

Haec charta e materia circumacta facta est.
Nonne hi cumuli quisquiliarum nos ad circumagendum hortantur?

  • Oh, I DO like that. I also learned the word quisquilia last week and am delighted to see it used. Jul 6, 2016 at 13:33

.1. For metalwork, hardware re-cycling: Isaiah 2:4 They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks (sickles).

conflabunt gladios suos in vomeres et lanceas suas in falces

Micah 4:3 They will hammer their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks (garden tools =plough, pick, rake, spade).

et concident gladios suos in vomeres et hastas suas in ligones

.2. For refurbishment rather than recycling:To forge anew; or to hammer again as in coin: recudo. recudere, recudi. recusum.

vetera metalla recudunt, Varr.

.3. Or if the refurbishment is spit and polish: polio, polire, polivi, politum.

.4. For human re-cycling: 1 Corinthians 15:52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.

et nos inmutabimur.

.5. But vertor, versus, "turned into," is a more general term for "recycled as." The corpse (tenth stage of life) says (1300CE):
I have been recycled as dust; Life caught me out.

versus sum in cinerem, Vita me decepit.


How about ad novum usum aptare, lit. "adapt for a new use"?

  • 1
    Hmm. While that's true of something recycled (if I put a soda can into the recycling bin, it does get adapted for new use), it's also true of lots of other things one could do with it (put it as the crowning glory atop one's Saturnalia tree). I think I'm looking for something a little more specific. Jul 6, 2016 at 9:46
  1. The Vatican Lexicon Recentis Latinitatis uses (in Ecclesiastical Latin):

    pecúniae male partae collocátio

    (taken from the online subsample of words, found here, with Italian translation (riciclaggio being the world recycling).

    This seems however a rather odd phrase, which could be translated as "the setting up of wrongly born wealth/money"? No clue how this relates to recycling.

  2. The wikipedia entry calls it (as noun; see discussion):

    Anacyclismus, seu regyratio

    The first term seems to have been proposed by Stephanus Berard (again, see discussion page). This seems to be originated from the term Anacyclic, which means palindromic, which itself comes from Ancient Greek palindromos, meaning "running back again".

  3. The discussion page of the above wiki entry also mentions the following (as noun):

    ad utilitatem redactio, ad usum iteratum aptatio

    The website says this is also a translation from the Lexicon ...

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