Did the Romans during the classical era have a word for a dry, hot, desert? There is desertum, but that is more "wilderness" than explicitly desert in the sense we might think of today. Another possibility is solitudo, as used in this quote , although that seems to have similar meaning like desertum and not specifically a hot desert. Post classical Latin has erema, but is there an equivalent in classical Latin?

1 Answer 1


In addition to desertum, solitudo and erema, Calonghi dictionary suggests two more choices.

The plural Deserta: Deserta Apuliae (Seneca) (Virgil, Pliny, Seneca).

Also, Vastitas, as alternative to deserta: Vastitas Lybiae - Deserta Lybiae

Both here refer to geographic areas (deserta Apuliae and vastitas Lybiae) that may likely have been "proper deserts" a couple of millenniums ago.

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    Thanks @MattAllegro! Was erema used in classical times? I can see that the others were, but it wasn't clear to me with that one.
    – Adam
    Commented Apr 21, 2020 at 17:55
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    @Adam I found no reference now but I will ask again. Open a follow-up question to attract attention on the erema matter Commented Apr 21, 2020 at 21:28
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    @Adam Ifound a reference of Justinian using the word erema. This is pretty much all I can say and I really suggest you to open a new thread about this...better than in comments :) Commented Apr 22, 2020 at 15:40

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