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I've returned to the novel I mentioned in an earlier question. It takes place in Europe in the 1560's. I was thinking that my main character — who always spoke Latin in school and at college — might think of the woman he loves as "my love", but in Latin.

How would he say "my love" in Latin?

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In his Colloquia Familiaria Erasmus mentions several options for greetings between lovers ("Blandior salutatio inter amantes"):

  • mea Corneliola. (my little [name])
  • mea vita. (my life)
  • mea lux. (my light)
  • meum delicium. (my pleasure)
  • meum suavium. (my kiss)
  • mel meum. (my honey)
  • mea voluptas unica. (my only pleasure)
  • meum corculum. (my little heart)
  • mea spes. (my hope)
  • meum solatium. (my comfort)
  • meum decus (my glory)

I believe most of those options are attested also in classical literature.

Literally "My love" is amor meus, however, for now, I could not find that this expression is used to refer to a person.


L&S offers its own extensive (and more general) list of "terms of endearment". Cave lector! not everything matches every occasion.

Term example
caesus "molliculus and dulciculus caseus,” Plaut. Poen. 1, 2, 157 and 179
bdellium “tu crocinum et casia es, tu bdellium,” Plaut. Curc. 1, 2, 7
pullus "meus pullus passer, mea columba,” Plaut. Cas. 1, 50
anaticula -
monedula -
labellum ocellus salus suavium "meus ocellus, meum labellum, mea salus, meum savium,” Plaut. Poen. 1, 2, 153; so id. ib. 1, 2, 175
voluptas "care puer, mea sera et sola voluptas"
mel cor "meum mel, meum cor,” Plaut. Poen. 1, 2, 157"
anaticula, columba, catellus / catella, hirundo "dic me anaticulam, columbam vel catellum, Hirundinem, monedulam, etc.,” Plaut. As. 3, 3, 104"
margarita -
dominus, domina Ov. Am. 3, 7, 11
lepor respice, o mi lepos,” Plaut. Cas. 2, 3, 19; id. Curc. 1, 2, 4.
desiderans "“vale, domine dulcissime, desiderantissime,” Fronto Ep. 5, 40; M. Aur. ib. 1, 5;
lepus "mens pullus passer, mea columba, mi lepus,” Plaut. Cas. 1, 50"
mulsa “age, mulsa mea,” Plaut. Stich. 5, 5, 14; id. Cas. 2, 6, 20.
festivus "o mi pater festivissime!” Ter. Ad. 5, 9, 26
festus, vita "mi animule, mea vita, mea festivitas, meus dies festus, etc.,” my holiday, Plaut. Cas. 1, 49.
iapsis -
sidus -
mus "cum me murem dicis,” my little mouse, Mart. 11, 29, 3.
lingua "hujus voluptas, te opsecro, hujus mel, hujus cor, hujus labellum, hujus lingua,” Plaut. Poen. 1, 2, 178
spes spes mea,” Plaut. Rud. 1, 4, 27: “o spes mea, o mea vita, o mea voluptas, salve,” id. Stich. 4, 2, 5
oculus "bene vale, ocule mi!” Plaut. Curc. 1, 3, 47
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  • Thanks, this is great! Jun 21 at 19:18
  • L&S mention desiderans, but desideratus, -a also works: “and in inscrr. applied to a beloved person: FILIO DESIDERATISSIMO,” Inscr. Orell. 5068; id. Grut. 681, 2 al.
    – cmw
    Jun 21 at 23:41
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d_e's list is lengthy, but there are a few missing. As he noted, meus amor isn't the way to say "my love," but mei/nostri amores can be. Lewis and Short list some of the more prominent examples:

A. For the beloved object itself: “amores et deliciae tuae,” Cic. Div. 1, 36; “Pompeius, nostri amores,” id. Att. 2, 19; 16, 6; “and ironic.: sed redeo ad amores deliciasque nostras, L. Antonium,” id. Phil. 6, 5; Plaut. Poen. 1, 1, 79; Ov. M. 1, 617; 4, 137 al.—

Additionally, deliciae (earlier and better in the plural feminine) is common as well. Besides the Cicero above, see also Catullus 5, where he calls the passer Lesbia's deliciae (showcasing his jealousy—that a bird, not Catullus, is Lesbia's beloved—and also potentially creating a double entendre). Lewis and Short has more examples:

II. Transf., of living beings: delight, darling, sweetheart, beloved: “tu urbanus scurra, deliciae popli,” Plaut. Most. 1, 1, 14: “mea voluptas, meae deliciae, mea vita, mea amoenitas,” id. Poen. 1, 2, 152: “amores ac deliciae tuae Roscius,” Cic. Div. 1, 36, 79; cf. id. Att. 16, 6 fin.; id. Phil. 6, 5.

As you can see, the Cicero pops up again.

Another conspicuous absence is Venus: especially mea Venus, but not infrequent in the plural1:

  1. Like the Engl. love, to denote a beloved object, beloved: “nec veneres nostras hoc fallit,” Lucr. 4, 1185: “mea Venus,” Verg. E. 3, 68; Hor. C. 1, 27, 14; 1, 33, 13.—

1. Lucretius is given, but it appears in Catullus and Propertius as well, assuming I'm interpreting the latter correctly. These could all also stand in for the poetic plural, so unless you're writing poetry, mea Venus is the better way to go.

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