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How would you say booklover or bookworm in latin. It is for a tattoo. The person who wants it is a real booklover and wants the world to know. He is not a collector of books but a reader. I find different translations but it must be correct Latin and we're not able to judge that. Thank you, Enya

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  • Thank you all. I think Libricola at the moment is my favorite. I also found litteratus. But to call yourself learned, erudite.. I don't know. Any thoughts on that? Much appreciated! Enya
    – Enya
    Feb 6, 2023 at 11:43
  • @Enya I'm glad to hear the answers have been of use! The best way to reward those you help you on this site is to vote their answers up and to accept one of the answers. You'll be able to do those if you register your account. (I agree on litteratus: it is more "better than others because of books" than "lover of books". Also, that one needs to switched to litterata if you want a feminine form.)
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Feb 6, 2023 at 11:56

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A booklover is librorum amans or librorum studiosus. If you want, you can also use the superlatives: librorum amantissimus or librorum studiosissimus.

Another term (that has gained some currency in learned English) is helluo librorum, which is a rather drastic expression, meaning something like “book glutton”! (This is sometimes attributed to Cicero (e.g. by Erasmus), although it seems Cicero only wrote (De Finibus 3, 7): quasi helluari libris, si hoc verbo in tam clara re utendum est = “being a glutton, so to speak, for books, if it is appropriate to use this word for such an honourable thing.”)

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    I wonder if one could add Maximus to the above? What would the greatest book lover of all be called? Feb 2, 2023 at 9:24
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    I follow @Sebastian on librorum studiosus. Cicero, Verr., 4, 13: qui studiosi sunt harum rerum "those who are fond of those objects". Feb 5, 2023 at 3:59
  • @user1095108 in the case of helluo librorum, you absolutely can add maximus, as Erasmus did when he wrote: Lucernula conueniet Chrysoglotto, anagnostae insatiabili, et, ut M. Tullius inquit, librorum helluoni maximo = "The little lamp will be welcomed by Chrysoglottus, the insatiable reader and, as M. Tullius [Cicero] puts it, greatest glutton for books." But in the case of amans and studiosus, the superlatives I mentioned would be used instead. Feb 9, 2023 at 1:34
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Libris deditus for a man, libris dedita for a woman, literally "devoted to books", but metaphorically a true book aficionado.

Found in Cicero, De Oratore 3.82.10.

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I suggest using a compound with -cola, indicating where someone lives or what someone worships or works on. Examples include agricola, caelicola, monticola, Iunonicola, Christicola, silvicola, ruricola, nocticola, viticola. The Perseus Digital Library makes it easy to compile a list of Latin words ending in -cola.

Given this range of examples, I think libricola would make a sound translation for "a cultivator of books" or a "bookdweller". This word is not attested in classical Latin, but the suffix -cola seems to have been quite productive and searching online suggests that the word has been in (infrequent) use since the medieval times for a bibliophile.

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    Your answer is nice, I voted up. Just, if we are to nitpick, to cultivate books is not exactly to love books. But it has the advantage of suggesting a synthetic compound, contrary to librorum studiosus and similar glosses. Feb 5, 2023 at 4:05
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If he's open to borrowing from Greek, as Roman lovers of books did frequently, you could take the attested Greek term φιλόβιβλος (philobiblos) -- ``a lover of books'' -- and Latinize it to philobiblus. Or he could get a tattoo of the Greek word itself.

This term also has the advantage of alluding to Richard de Bury's Philobiblon, a medieval work on learning from books and building a library.

The order should not be reversed because it would change the meaning. βιβλόφιλος is not attested, but it would mean something like "a friend of books" or "loved by books." Compare φιλόλογος "lover of words" and λογόφιλος "friend of words," or φιλόθεος "pious, lover of the divine" and θεόφιλος "loved by the gods, a friend of the gods." The attested compounds seem to indicate that "lover of X" should be φιλο-X rather than X-φιλος.

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  • Does this exist also in the reversed order? Some modern languages seem to have words like the English 'bibliophile'.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Feb 6, 2023 at 17:39
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    In Greek, reversing the order would change the meaning. βιβλόφιλος is not attested, but it would mean something like "a friend of books" or "loved by books." Compare φιλόλογος "lover of words" and λογόφιλος "friend of words," or φιλόθεος "pious, lover of the divine" and θεόφιλος "loved by the gods, a friend of the gods." The attested compounds seem to indicate that "lover of X" should be φιλο-X rather than X-φιλος.
    – Herodotean
    Feb 6, 2023 at 18:02
  • Thanks! That clarifies it a lot. Can you edit that into the answer itself, too?
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Feb 6, 2023 at 19:11
  • Okay, I've done that.
    – Herodotean
    Feb 6, 2023 at 19:22

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