I am looking for a Latin word for "point" to be used like this:

  • I see your point.
  • I hope this example gets the point across.
  • There is no point in peeling a banana.
  • Good point!

There probably is no exact Latin equivalent, but I hope something would come close. What is the best Latin substitute (or a couple of them) for the English "point" in this sense? I am prepared to have an imperfect fit and to make sure the Latin word is suitable when I use it. I am looking for a good rule of thumb.

Classical Latin is preferred but not strictly required.

I doubt the literal translation punctum gets the correct kind of point across. This would not work in Finnish, either. The native word for "point" is "piste", and can be used in contexts like "staring at a point on the wall" or "getting ten points for a good answer to this question". For the kind of thing this questions is about, Finnish often uses the obvious loan word "pointti" (informal) which can never mean the literal kind of point.


1 Answer 1


Maybe simpler than you think! The following are extracts from Smith's Latin-English Dictionary (1871), under the head "point":

II. Fig., the sting or telling feature of an epigram, etc.:aculeus (a sting): an epigram requires to have a p. to it, *epigramma quasi aculeos quosdam in se habere oportet; cf. Cic. Br. 9, extr.; his own epigrams have often very little p., ipse hebetes interdum figit aculeos, Morhof, i. p. 1060; having p., salsus; without point., frigidus, insulsus.

IV. A particular ; esp. in phr., the main p.s, ; 1. summa : just the main p.s., ipsae summae rerum [atque sententiae], Cic. Quint. 9, 32 2. caput, -itis, n.: the main point of a letter, c. literarum, Cic. Ph. 2,31,77: the leading p.s of a subject, capita rerum, id. Br. 44,164. 3. cardo, -inis, m. Phr. : to touch on the main point of a thing, aliquid summatim attingere, Quint. 10,1,44 : Cic.: in every p., omni ex parte, Cic. Am. 21,79 : let us return to the p. we digressed from, eo unde huc digressi sumus revertamur, Cic. N. D. 2, fin.

I hope that this is enough to set you on the right path. Smith's is invaluable for this kind of thing.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.