We're putting up a large sundial, which already has a suitable latin motto, but given COVID, under the date would like to add a small submotto with the phase "in the year of the plague".

Having learnt latin as a child I believe the closest translation is "In anno plaga" (with the modern word plague, derived from "plaga" meaning "affliction" or "wound"), but is there a better translation?

I'd like to be sure before committing to an engraving!

Thanks in advance.

  • 2
    If you wanted to keep the parallelism with "in the year of our lord," you don't need the in. – cmw Jun 14 at 12:55
  • Of course you are correct. Including the answer below, I think I will go with "Anno pestilentiae" – colintd Jun 14 at 14:31
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    it's a good answer. Pestis could also work, or contagionis, but you can't go wrong with pestilentiae. Feel free to mark the answer "accepted" if that's what you went with. – cmw Jun 14 at 14:47
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    Having reconsidered, I think I'll go with "Anno Pestis". Thanks. – colintd Jun 14 at 14:49

That's almost right, except it should be in the genitive: In anno plagae.

However, as cmw pointed out, the preposition in is optional. Besides that, the word plaga is very general and can refer to a number of different types of affliction.

A more specific word would be pestilentia, which means:

an infectious disease, plague, pest, pestilence

It also has to be in the genitive (with the ending -ae):

Anno pestilentiae

Perhaps even better is the more poetic word pestis which has basically the same meaning:

Anno pestis

  • 1
    Forgetting I should use the genitive would have led to a sharp rebuke from my latin teacher! Thanks also for pestis - that was what I was reaching for, and I should have remembered based on Bubonic plague being called "Yersinia pestis". I will go with "Anno Pestis" – colintd Jun 14 at 14:49
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    @colintd - You're welcome! – Expedito Bipes Jun 14 at 14:51

If your sundial were in the U.S., the proper inscription would be "Anno Pestium" (using genitive plural instead of genitive singular).

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    Welcome to the site! Can you edit your answer to elaborate what the difference is and why you think this would be a better choice? This proposal looks good but could be made stronger with an explanation. – Joonas Ilmavirta Jun 15 at 3:41
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    @JoonasIlmavirta I think it was intended as a joke. It was supposed to be Genitive plural (with the implication that the US suffered from more than one plague that year). Grammatically, though, I think it should have been anno pestum The Latin Dictionary – Jonathan Willcock Jun 15 at 6:17
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    @JonathanWillcock I thought something like that, and elaboration would clarify the message. Given that the asker does not seem to know much Latin, it would help to explicitly mention that this is the plural genitive. // That looks like an automatically generated declension table and I actually think it's wrong. For nouns with nominative and genitive looking alike the plural genitive tends to be -ium, and a corpus search shows hits for pestium but none for pestum. – Joonas Ilmavirta Jun 15 at 8:05
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    Nouns in -is, -is usually have -ium. The only exceptions I am aware of are iuvenis and canis. I nowadays recommend Wiktionary when in doubt about declension, it has tables for every noun and in my experience is very reliable. – Sebastian Koppehel Jun 15 at 16:13
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    Iocus mehercule iste diversas in partes legi potest... – Sebastian Koppehel Jun 15 at 16:14

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