I was reading De Imitatione Christi to get more familiar with the structure of a text in Latin and I notice that the author usually uses the verb caveo whenever referring to 'avoid' or 'beware' (such as in: De cavenda nimia familiaritate). Maybe because of my mother tongue, but first thing that comes to my mind isn't caveo, but vito. Are these verbs equivalent in usage?

I can read and understand much better than I can write or formulate sentences. Does a sentence like: "Hi a timentibus Dei vitandum." make sense in Latin?

1 Answer 1


They are related, but they are not equivalent.

Vitare means 'to shun/to avoid' and has a sense of moving or staying away from something. A better synonym for it would actually be fugere 'to flee.'

Cavere can be used in that way, but that's a more developed metaphor. Instead, it more means 'to beware of' in the sense of 'to be on your guard against.' If you see a signing warning you cave canem, they do not necessarily mean for you to run away from the house (or maybe they do!), but to be on your guard that there is a dog. If they chose vita canem instead, it would indicate that you should avoid the dog altogether, not just be careful because they have one.

What cavere connotes that vitare does not necessarily is to be on your guard. Vita praedones would have you flee from bandits, but cave praedones just alerts you to be on guard; choosing whether to fight or flee is not part of the command.

  • @cmwm thank you, that was very clarifying! But what about the sentence I wrote? Is it a right construction in latin? Commented Dec 21, 2021 at 12:28
  • @YetAnotherUsr No, it does not appear to be grammatical. What are you trying to say with it in English?
    – cmw
    Commented Dec 21, 2021 at 13:53

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