I am translating "iconoclast" into classical Latin. It was translated into Ecclesiastical Latin as Iconoclasta, but I would rather translate it from the original Byzantine Greek meaning of image-breaker into something the Romans might have used, assuming of course that they wouldn't have simply adapted the word in the same way it was in Ecclesiastical Latin.

I've been toying with Idolii Domitorum, but I'm unsure if I'm using the correct endings or proper case. Ideally I would have a singular and plural form.

2 Answers 2


Domitor (without the -um, which is unnecessary here) would be a breaker in the sense of a breaker of wild horses. It doesn't have to do with physical breaking, which is what you want.

Instead, you can use a derivative of a verb such as frangere – e.g., fractor. Though this word is unattested (at least in classical Latin), it's easy enough to derive it. You probably also want a plural form of 'idol.' Though the word idolon is used mainly of apparitions or ghosts in classical Latin, not physical representations of persons or deities, I'm fairly certain it can have the required meaning in ecclesiastical Latin. So you could say either idolon fractor (using a retained Greek genitive plural ending) or idolorum fractor (using a Latin genitive plural ending).

Alternatively, you can use some single-word compound modeled on saxifragus ('rock breaking'), such as idolifragus.

The plural of idolon/idolorum fractor is idolon/idolorum fractores, and the plural of idolifragus is, for a group of men or a mixed group of men and women, idolifragi; for a group of women, idolifragae.

Updating to add that if you want the term to apply to images in a more general sense, not specifically to religious idols, the Latin noun imago can work: imaginum fractor or the quite ugly imaginifragus.

  • I like the compound word for my usage (idolifragus), although I might use the other versions in other text. Thanks!
    – Adam
    Oct 1, 2019 at 22:51
  • Hmm, might what you're doing with -fragus answer my question about renegatus?
    – Ben Kovitz
    Oct 2, 2019 at 4:24
  • @BenKovitz, I don't think so, because fragus isn't a perfect passive participle; I'd say it's just a denasalized present/imperfective stem, as in framentum or fragilis. Or have I missed your point?
    – cnread
    Oct 2, 2019 at 5:31
  • Not at all. I think you just lucidly explained why -fragus doesn't provide a good parallel with renegatus. Oh well!
    – Ben Kovitz
    Oct 2, 2019 at 5:40
  • 1
    Idolifragus has the further advantage that, had it existed, the 18th century would have naturalised it into English as idolifrage - both as a noun and as an adjective, “his idolifrage views”. Cf ossifrage. Oct 2, 2019 at 6:54

I would suggest "specierum fractor".


"Fractor" is a noun derived from "frango (-is, -ĕre, -i, -actus)", meaning "to break".

"Specierum" is Gn.Pl.F of "species (-ei)", which means "image, appearance, idea, impression", etc., and which was widely used in Antiquity and the Middle Ages. It is roughly equivalent to the Greek "εἰκών". Here it is used as objetive Gn.

So "specierum fractor" means "breaker of images".

  • 3
    Welcome to the site! This is indeed a very good direct translation, and something I would expect to see in a classical text.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Oct 2, 2019 at 10:22
  • I missed this answer the first time around, but thank you! I can also use this in addition to the other answer to my question; it could be the title used for persons who are members of the group. I'll think on it - appreciate the answer!
    – Adam
    Nov 13, 2019 at 16:41

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