entry An item in a list, such as an article in a dictionary or encyclopedia. — Wiktionary

What would be the best Latin word to translate entry in this context? The online dictionary I use don't give any result.

Edit. Smith & All give “caput, capitis” for “A clause in a law, treaty, etc.” but the meaning is a bit different.

2 Answers 2


In New Latin lexicography, the word for an entry in a dictionary or an encylopedia is vōx, so "see the entry porcus" would be (vidē) sub vōce 'porcus', abbreviated as s.v. porcus. This abbreviation found its way into English as well as other European languages. Note that some sources alternatively interpret this abbreviation as "sub verbō", but based on the use of the latter word this seems less likely, although theoretically I don't see a reason why it couldn't be used in this meaning. vōx in Latin stands for a combination of speech sounds with a certain meaning, regardless of its part of speech. The Oxford Latin Dictionary, which considers only classical usage, lists it as '10 (gram.) A word' (2nd ed., p. 2320).

The first occurrence of sub vōce with roughly that meaning appears to be in Manilius' Astronomica: propriā melius sub vōce notantur ('is better expressed by the native word'). Apart from this, the phrase [tremuit] sub vōce is found in Lucan to mean 'trembled before his words, at his voice', and Lucretius uses sub verbō to mean 'at [her] word, i.e. at once', where verbum means 'command'.

  • Thank you. The abbreviation does indeed seem to be well attested but the word itself, in the dictionaries I have, only refers to "voice" or "saying". This is an interesting case
    – user10919
    Commented Mar 23, 2022 at 11:46
  • @Laravel The Oxford Latin Dictionary lists it as meaning 10 (gram.) A word. Commented Mar 23, 2022 at 20:01
  • @Laravel Hey, I've edited my answer to add some ancient support for this usage of vōx and to contrast it with its theoretical alternative, verbum. If this ends up reassuring you that this is the expression to use, please consider accepting my answer. It seems to be well-established in New Latin lexicography and I don't believe there exist any alternatives for it, for what it's worth. Commented Apr 8, 2022 at 21:50

Salve. I agree that caput is not the right word here. A quick look in Cassell's Latin Dictionary gives "entry" as nomen. This use, however, is for debts in an account book, therefore this is not the right word for this. A look in the Lexicon Morganianum gave lemma, lemmatis n. It is a Greek loanword from λῆμμα. The word, Latinised, means things like "a theme, matter, subject, contents" (L&S). The Greek seems to mean "anything received, income, . . . gain, etc." (Middle Liddell). I think lemma would be the right word here.

Lemma is also used in English. In English, it means about the same as the Latin: "a dictionary entry" and "the argument or subject of a literary composition, prefixed as a heading or title" (OED).

  • 1
    Thanks for your answer, it's a good idea indeed. I don't know if there is a purely Latin solution but if not I will use lemma
    – user10919
    Commented Mar 22, 2022 at 18:44
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    The thing is, the use you're suggesting isn't found in Latin, not even in New Latin. You're backporting an international Graecism into Latin, but the word doesn't have that meaning even in Greek, and is already used in Latin with a different meaning, including New Latin. D. Morgan's Silva isn't a proper dictionary but an informal collection of translation ideas; it doesn't attest usage but gives tentative suggestions that don't find their way into the Adumbratio. Commented Mar 26, 2022 at 2:51
  • @Unbrutal_Russian Interesting, I did not know that. What dictionary would you recommend for Neo- and contemporary Latin? Is the Adumbratio reliable? What about, Traupman’s conversational Latin? I don’t think he gives sources.
    – Vtex
    Commented Mar 26, 2022 at 13:37
  • Turning that into a question was a good move, I'll write an answer there later if there will still be need for it. The bottom line is that none of them is fool-proof, and the only dictionary I trust is my own brain :-))) Commented Mar 26, 2022 at 16:56
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    Lemma has its own meaning in multiple academic fields too. Mathematics ("minor, easily proven thing, used in more comolex proofs") and botany (some kind of plant part if I recall correctly) come to mind.
    – D. Kovács
    Commented Apr 1, 2022 at 6:04

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