What is the exact definition of the in-law terms?

Note that Latin terms do not necessarily align with English terms. For example, Latin patruus, and avunculus are both English "uncle" (on the father's and mother's side respectively).

For each, it is not clear if the Ego (the sociological term for the person to whom the relative is related) can be male or female, and whether marriage ties (the "in-law" link) extends through only one or also two marriages.

For example, it is not clear if glos can be:

  • A male or female Ego's brother's wife
  • A male Ego's wife's sister
  • A male Ego's wife's brother's wife (brother-in-law's wife?)
  • A male or female Ego's sibling's spouse's sister. (This is a bit complicated, but "sister-in-law" is used this way in English.)

Can you clarify these terms?

  1. gener, a daughter's husband, a son-in-law.
  2. glos, a husband's sister, sister-in-law.
  3. levir, husband's brother, brother-in-law (Also, how does this relate to sororius and socrinus?)
  4. nurus, daughter-in-law
  5. socer, father-in-law
  6. socrinus, brother-in-law. (Not in Lewis; Also, how does this relate to sororius and levir?)
  7. socrus, mother-in-law, rarely father-in-law
  8. sororius of or belonging to a sister, sisterly. Perhaps used for brother-in law, the husband of Ego's sister. (Also, how does this relate to socrinus and levir?)

Am I missing some terms here?


Following Sebastian Koppehel's helpful answer, the above definitions come from Lewis' dictionary (which does not clarify whether a term exactly aligns with the English X-in-law terms).

1 Answer 1


Glos and levir are the husband's sister and brother. These are relatively obscure words. You might just as well (or better) say soror/frater mariti instead; the upside is that you can talk about the other half of the family just as easily: soror/frater uxoris. Glos can apparently also be a brother's wife, which can also be called fratria.

Gener, nurus, socer, socrus mean son, daughter, father, mother in law; these should be pretty clear.

Sororius, -a, -um is an adjective meaning “relating to a sister,” the masculine form can apparently mean a sister's husband or son in Late Latin. It does not relate to levir in any particular way.

Socrinus is not a word that exists in Latin, as far as I can see.

I do not think any of these words imply anything about the “Ego's” sex, except that glos and levir assume you have a husband, suggesting that the “Ego” will probably be female.

  • 2
    Glōs and lēvir definitely aren't borrowings. Socrinus for some reason only seems to show up in certain Latin-Dutch dictionaries (meaning 'wife's brother'), AFAICT; might be an old copyright trap?
    – Cairnarvon
    Apr 24, 2021 at 0:09
  • 2
    @Cairnarvon You're probably right about the Greek, although Georges derives levir from δαήρ, but it is probably just a cognate. They are both apparently quite obscure, though. Apr 24, 2021 at 20:35
  • @SebastianKoppehel Thank you. (1) is there a word for a wife's sister? (I don't see it in your list.) (2) Can these terms extend two steps? Is a woman's husband's sister's husband also a brother-in-law, as it would be in English?
    – Joshua Fox
    Apr 26, 2021 at 12:45

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