Unlike most constellations, Lupus isn't named after a specific character in mythology. It used to be a dog or beast, but eventually it was given the Latin name Lupus. I'm not really sure how gender suffixes work in Latin. It seems like "-us" is associated with male names. But, then again maybe in Latin, Lupus could mean a wolf of either gender, while something like Lupa would only refer to a she-wolf.

So, does the name "Lupus" imply that it is a male wolf? or could it be a female wolf?

(I'm writing a story, and was hoping to reference the constellation Lupus as a she-wolf, but I could change it to "Lupa" or something else if that would fit better. I like the name Lupus because it's the name of an actual constellation, but only if it fits.)


1 Answer 1


There is in fact a word lupa which is the normal word for a female wolf. (If you use it in your story, however, you might want to be aware that for whatever reason, it's also a common word for "prostitute".)

As for lupus, as per the L&S entry, it seems normally to refer to a male wolf, though apparently there were some uses of the phrase lupus femina in old poets to mean lupa. My sense is that any readers of your story who know any Latin would be surprised to see lupus referring to a female wolf.

  • Considering that a she-wolf figures pretty prominently in the founding of Rome, and everything I can find refers to that she-wolf as a lupa, this definitely seems right.
    – brianpck
    Commented May 15, 2021 at 4:13
  • 3
    I would add though that lupus could certainly be used to refer to a wolf of unknown gender - You'd say Apparently a lupus ate my chicken, and noboy would complain if it turned out to be a female wolf.
    – sgf
    Commented May 15, 2021 at 13:39

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