I've seen sed, vērō, and vērum described as "but, butter, buttest," but the descriptions in e.g. Gildersleeve, Bennett—even Zumpt—leave me scratching my head.

  • Could you add "at"?
    – Quidam
    Nov 23, 2019 at 10:24

3 Answers 3


Both uero and uerum can often be translated as 'in truth' rather than 'but' in some cases, yielding something stronger than sed. When we have sed, it just means that what we're about to say is different from what we were just talking about in some way. But when we use uero or uerum as in truth, we tie the second sentence more closely to the first. The two situations that come to mind are:

(1) The second sentence contradicts something in the first.

aquam frigidam dixit. uero calida erat.

(2) The second sentences strengthens the first.

aquam tepidam dixit. uero calida erat.

In fact, uerum might be better in (1), because it has a stronger sense of contradiction, but I think the two are mostly interchangeable

However, as pointed out by @cmweimer, these are both commonly used in the same weakened sense as a simple 'sed' or 'at', especially in late classical vulgar latin.

  • When it just means 'but', though, it still retains the stronger sense, doesn't it? Or is that just something I've picked up from that it's used as 'in truth' more often? Feb 26, 2016 at 0:44
  • Well, I believe your gut more than my own. I'll edit, unless you'd prefer to answer. Feb 26, 2016 at 0:47
  • 1
    I want to encourage anybody reading this answer to look also at @C.M.Weimer's answer, which expands on and helps clarify this. Feb 26, 2016 at 3:43

Just to tack on to Mar Johnson's post and our subsequent discussion, the Oxford Classical Dictionary does not support the notion that verum or vero is in itself a stronger contrasting conjunctive than sed. However, the phrase verumvero or verum enim is:

uero, adv., particle.

2 In fact, really, truly.

3 (emphasizing the truth of an assertion) For a certainty, unquestionably, without doubt. b (w. iron force).


uerum, conj [development of ellipt. use of uerum (est) in replies...

1 (assenting to what has been said, but adding a qualification). But at the same time. b (strengthened by uero, enim, or enimuero, ~ uero being also written as one word; see also VERVMTAMEN). c (connecting single words or phrs.). d (in retorts) yes, but. e (with limiting force) but only.

2 (introducing a contrasting fact, idea, etc.) But (on the other hand), however. b (in contrasting an actual with a hypothetical situation, etc.) but in fact, but as matters stand.

3 (after a neg., introducing a contradictory or incompatible fact, argument, etc.) But (on the contrary).

So no, the schema of but, butter, buttest is not actually correct.

  • 1
    Ah, but the fact that vérum stands for vérum est clarifies a great deal for me. If sed is "but," then véró is "(but) in truth" (almost an ablative of vérum) and vérum is "(but) the truth is." I find this much more helpful, in fact, than "but, butter, buttest." This is a question that has plagued me for years. Thank you. (I want to accept both answers, but I can't, so I just went with the earliest one.) Feb 26, 2016 at 3:43

The difference between "vero" and "verum" as adversative conjunctions is that "vero", usually at the second place in a clause, indicates smooth transition to something different, contrasting or mildly contrary, without interrupting the narration: it connects rather than separates. Whereas "verum", usually starting a clause, makes a break that finishes the preceding clause and sets the coming clause against it. "Verum" is similar to "sed" in this regard, while "vero" is much like "autem. The "verum"/"vero" pair adds to the "sed"/"autem" pair a sense of assurance or affirmation (due to their primary meaning "in truth"). It is like saying "but forget what I just said and focus on this: ...".

The explanation in Zumpt seems to me pretty helpful (§348): http://www.logicmuseum.com/latin/conjunctions.htm.

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