In the same way "a thinking thing" is translated into Latin to res cogitans, how would you translate in Latin "a fighting thing" and "a running away thing"?

2 Answers 2


The core question seems to be finding good verbs for fighting and running away; then it remains to form their participles just like in your example cogitare > cogitans. I suggest taking a look at any of the several good online Latin dictionaries. I will give two suggestions here, but I invite you to look at their dictionary entries and see if they fit your needs:

  • Pugnare is a good general verb for fighting, giving the participle pugnans.

  • Fugere means running away, and there are many prefixed versions (au-, re-, per-) for different nuances. Its present participle is fugiens.

The exact choice of verbs and whether you should have res or a plain participle or something else depends on the context. If you can elaborate on how you want to use these translations, we can offer a more tailored response.

  • @JoonasIlmavirta thanks. The context: abstracting in a philosophical manner, on the model of the "res cogitans" vs the "res extensa", the fight-or-fly behavior of an animal. So, I assume you propose the "res pugnans" vs the "res fugiens", correct? May 3, 2022 at 10:51
  • @AnsonīBōdo Yes, in that case res pugnans/fugiens sounds reasonable. There might be somewhat better verbs, but that choice is certainly reasonable and understandable.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    May 3, 2022 at 10:53
  • @JoonasIlmavirta If you can propose an array of better verbs and their participles, I would be grateful. May 3, 2022 at 10:55
  • @AnsonīBōdo Nothing better comes to mind now, but perhaps others can chime in. I just wanted to warn that there is no such thing as the one and absolute truth when it comes to translation and terminology. If these are not pre-existing terms, you have to define and describe them anyway and have some freedom of naming. My proposals are certainly within reason, but are easily trumped if there is precedent for other choices.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    May 3, 2022 at 10:59

Different take, based on Wikipedia.

Fighting words are not fighting themselves but

are spoken words directed to the person of the hearer which would have a tendency to cause acts of violence by the person to whom, individually, the remark is addressed.

By analogy we can say that things do not think, fight or run away. Instead, they make a person or an animal do that. So, instead of a participle construction, I would go for a combination with causa:

fighting thing - causa pugnae

running away thing - causa fugae

  • Hmm. Man is a res cogitans, so apparently a thing, a man, can think. Are you being thrown off by the English definition of thing, which often exclude animals? I do not think that res excludes animals. Animals, and even robots, can fight and flee.
    – Figulus
    Feb 27, 2023 at 0:55

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