The only context that I know of of this word being used is the Bible passage: 'remove the plank in your eye before you remove the plank in your neighbor's eye', but Jerome translates 'plank' as 'trabea', so that doesn't work. In the three dictionaries I've seen 'capillamentum', and 'cacoethes' are suggested, but the Oxford Latin Dictionary defines 'cacoethes' as:

cacoēthes neut. [Greek κακόηθες] A malignant tumour at an early stage. ▶ fereque primum id fit, quod ~es a Graecis nominatur CELS. 5.28.2.C; ulcera ‥ quae ~e uocant PLIN. Nat. 23.95; duritias, quas ~e uocant 24.7; ~e ‥ cybio uetere sanantur 32.126. b (fig., applied to an incurable ‘disease’ of character). ▶ tenet insanabile multos scribendi ~es JUV. 7.52.

And 'capillamentum' is translated as

capillāmentum ~ī neut. [capillus + -mentum] 1 The hair of the head. ▶ capitulo uolutas uti ~o concrispatos cincinnos ‥ conlocauerunt VITR. 4.1.7; lectorum iuuenum ~a surripere APUL. Met. 3.16; —(in comparisons) linguae ‥ ~i tenuitate (serpentibus) PLIN. Nat. 11.171; folio angusto paene in ~i modum 21.33; tenuis usque in ~i speciem 27.91. b false hair, a wig. ▶ me ‥ decoro exornauit ~o PETR. 110.5; ~o celatus SUET. Cal. 11. 2 a A hair-like fibre in plants; a root hair. ▶ ~a seminum COL. 4.11.1; 4.22.4; minutis haec ~is hirsuta PLIN. Nat. 16.128; —(uitis annosae) ~a SEN. Ep. 86.20; quae rectam non habent radicem, statim plurimis nituntur ~is PLIN. Nat. 19.99; densis radicis ~is 25.96. b a fibrous growth in other things. ▶ (in hominum uesica) diro cruciatu subinde nascentes calculi et saetarum ~a PLIN. Nat. 11.208; concreti aluminis unum genus σχιστὸν appellant Graeci, in ~a quaedam canescentia dehiscens 35.186. c a thread of metal. ▶ translucent ‥ iuncturae tenuissimis ~is PLIN. Nat. 36.98. 3 A thin streak or hair-like flaw in gems, etc. ▶ aliis (crystallis est) ~um rimae simile PLIN. Nat. 37.28; 37.199; (in timber) rimae aut ~a rimas imitata 13.98.

Specifically I want to say that one of my personal flaws is that I'm not able to focus on publishing my poetry. I thought of Ovid saying that he was exiled because of 'carmen et error', but I don't think that works in this context.

  • On the fly, a few words come to mind, but I'll need to verify/elaborate. If the personal flaw is a consequence of your poor choices, I'd say peccatum or more symbolically macula. If you can't help it, error comes to mind. But I think there are better, more specific, options I don't remember right now
    – Rafael
    Oct 2 at 13:07
  • "Jerome translates 'plank' as 'trabea'" -- actually he translates it as trabs. He should really have looked it up in Smith & Hall, then he would have known that "the word best suited for elegant prose" is tabula ;-) Oct 2 at 19:12
  • Should each "▶" start on a new line (the internal formatting suggests it)? Oct 3 at 22:45

A peccatus is a small moral failing. An error is a mistake or logical weakness. A vitium is a defect in virtue, an imperfection or vice.

In your case this last word is probably the best choice because a peccatus is a sin that you do, but a vitium is a sin that is inate.

Also, indiligens means negligent, and inofficiosus means undutiful.

  • 3
    In my experience, peccatum (2nd decl.) is far more common than peccatus (4th decl.). It's also the word used in ecclesiastical Latin for "sin."
    – brianpck
    Oct 2 at 14:23
  • +1. Note that a vitium is acquired in Aristotelianism
    – Rafael
    Oct 2 at 22:58

Vitium is the best word here. Paccatum is the actual action, but you're describing the thing that leads to the action, and that's vitium, your personal failing/fault/flaw. You can hardly put it better than Terence:

et illud mihi vitium'st maximum
and that is my greatest flaw!

Another close synonym is culpa, and in fact Lewis and Short summarize the difference among culpa, peccatum, and other words quite well:

crime, fault, blame, failure, defect (as a state worthy of punishment; on the contr. delictum, peccatum, etc., as punishable acts; diff. from scelus, which implies an intentional injury of others; but culpa includes in it an error in judgment).

Ovid could have easily said carmen et culpa and it would have worked the same (well, except for the meter).

If you want to emphasize the fact that this is a part of who you are, go with vitium, but if you want to emphasize the fact that you bear blame for the unpublished poetry, go with culpa.

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