I have been trying out Rosetta Stone's Latin instruction program, which is kind of interesting because it attempts to teach modern conversational Latin, as though it were a living language, which is obviously completely different than the usual emphasis on classical literature found in most scholastic Latin programs.

One of the many modernistic Latin words I have learned in this program is bibliopolium, which apparently means bookstore. What is the precedent for this word? I cannot find it in Latin dictionaries and the word polium does not mean store as far as I am aware. I would have expected bookstore to be taberna libraria or something like that. Also, they call a pharmacy a pharmacopolium, so it seems to be following the same pattern. Is it some kind of medieval word?

1 Answer 1


It's from the Greek βιβλιοπωλεῖον. The first element is βιβλίον (biblion, "book") and the second element is from πωλεῖν (pōlein "to sell").

There is an attested Latin word bibliopola, from the Greek βιβλιοπώλης, both of which mean bookseller. Bibliopolium then is just a Latinized version of βιβλιοπωλεῖον, which is legitimate enough since a closely related word existed in Classical Latin (and is found in later texts).

Interestingly, Aulus Gellius uses libraria for a bookshop, which I probably would have preferred over a what I think is a Neo-Latin coinage (though maybe someone can find it in some Late Antique or Medieval text).

  • The same entry in Short that you give cites taberna libraria in Cicero, just as I had guessed in my question. Commented Aug 12, 2021 at 21:30
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    @TylerDurden Yep, you weren't wrong. I remember taking Rosetta Stone's Latin course sampler about 20 years ago. I wonder how it is now.
    – cmw
    Commented Aug 12, 2021 at 22:36

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