everyone. I'm trying to translate the phrase "a forest's son" from song lyrics into Latin. I would like to say "son of the forest." My background is a little bit of Ecclesiastical Latin from singing in choirs.

From Google Translate, I received a translation of "filius silvam." I asked a friend of mine who knows Latin a bit better, and he was unsure if it should read "filius de silvam."

How would I correctly say "son of the forest"?


1 Answer 1


Unfortunately neither suggested translation is correct. In Latin de is a preposition meaning "(down) from", although similar words are used to express the genitive in Romance languages.

What you need is the nominative of the son (filius is the nominative) and genitive of the forest (the genitive of silva is silvae). So the translation should be filius silvae.

As pointed out in a comment, one option is to use an adjective instead of a genitive. Latin has the adjective silvestris, "related to forest". Therefore you have the alternative filius silvestris. This could mean a son that likes spending time in forests or who grew up in one. The genitive is the way to go when the possession is more concrete. If a specific forest is somehow to be considered the father, then filius silvae is definitely the way to go.

As usual, context matters a lot. Fortunately filius silvae is a good general translation.

  • That makes sense. It's like "et de profundo lacu" from Fauré's requiem. Excellent, thank you so much. Do you recommend any texts on Latin language/grammar? I have an intermediate understanding of a few Romance languages, so difficulty isn't too much of a concern. I would prefer sometime mainly in English, however. Jun 8, 2021 at 17:05
  • 1
    @SprNtndoChlmrs I'm glad to have been able to help! This question about self learning material is a good place to start looking; it gives far better suggestions than I could in a comment. If you are looking for a good book for your specific case and those general ones seem to miss the point, you can ask a focused separate question.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Jun 8, 2021 at 18:24
  • I wonder if filius silvestris might also work? Jun 8, 2021 at 19:13
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    @DerÜbermensch It would but with a somewhat different meaning. I added a discussion on that. Good suggestion!
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Jun 8, 2021 at 19:58

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