I am trying to capture the appropriate Latin term to describe an ‘idea’ - something that you imagine or picture in your mind.

Thank you.

  • 6
    Can you add some clarification? Are you looking for mental images, or thought processes? Does it have to be visual? Example sentences, etc. would be useful. Keep in mind that the word idea in English can be represented by a range of different concepts in other languages, so specifying as much as possible is helpful.
    – cmw
    Dec 28, 2021 at 23:19

2 Answers 2


This may be a little more broad than what you want, but the first word that comes to mind to me is sententia. From the Lewis and Short dictionary entry for sententia(bolding is mine):

a way of thinking, opinion, judgment, sentiment, thought, notion, purpose, determination, decision, will, desire

Cicero uses it to mean thoughts in Cic. de Orat. 2.56:

qui ita creber est rerum frequentia, ut verborum prope numerum sententiarum numero consequatur, ita porro verbis est aptus et pressus, ut nescias, utrum res oratione an verba sententiis inlustrentur:

Translation by J.M. Watson in 1860:

After him, in my opinion, Thucydides has certainly surpassed all historians in the art of composition; for he is so abundant in matter, that he almost equals the number of his words by the number of his thoughts; and he is so happy and judicious in his expressions, that you are at a loss to decide whether his facts are set off by his style, or his style by his thoughts;


As cmw has indicated, there are different kinds of ideas e.g. an opinion = "opinio"; "sententia" (see Adam's answwer); a suspicion = "suspicio"; a guess = "coniectura" and then an ordinary idea = "species", "forma", "imago", "notitia".

If you look these up you will find interesting, alternative meanings: taking just one, (approaching your desire for "something that you imagine or picture in your mind") "imago" = "image", "likeness", "echo" & "ghost" (as well as "idea"!) (Oxford)

In Lewis & Short (net) as well as definitions there are usually references to the Latin literature with attestations of use.

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