10

I would like to find a good Latin word for "living room". I know some options, but my list might not be complete and I am not sure what is the best choice. It may well be that different words are needed for different kinds of living rooms.

How would you translate "living room" to Latin and why? Would you use the same word (or longer phrase) for all kinds of living rooms, or are different words better in different situations?

Here are my suggestions with some commentary:

  • Conclave: This is a good overall word for "room". It has the tone of "something that can be locked up". I think it is a good general word for "room", but it alone does not mean "living room".
  • Atrium: Has the meaning of "main room", but also the tone of "entrance". If many other rooms are accessed through the living room, I would be tempted to use this word.
  • Aula: Sounds overly grandiose. Feels more like "inner court" than "living room" to me.
  • Cella: Sounds more like "chamber" or "small room" than "living room" to me. Could work with an added adjective.
  • Habitatio: This means "dwelling". It comes from the verb habitare, which conveys the meaning of a "living room" nicely. This is the translation suggested in my Finnish–Latin–Finnish dictionary.
  • Adjectives: Perhaps it would be best to use an adjective. We use two words in English, too. Something like conclave habitativum surely gets the point across, but something sounds fishy.

This question arose in connection with my answer to this earlier question about leaving a room.

  • Have you tried looking at modern Latin dictionaries already? – C. M. Weimer Dec 27 '16 at 22:54
  • perhaps atrium, or cubiculum , and I wonder what was this 'testudo' for, looks to be some room, too - Quo loco in porticu te scribere aiunt ut atriolum fiat, mihi ut est magis placebat. neque enim satis loci videbatur esse atriolo neque fere solet nisi in iis aedificiis fieri in quibus est atrium maius nec habere poterat adiuncta cubicula et eius modi membra. nunc hoc vel honestae testudinis vel valde boni aestivi locum obtinebit. tu tamen si aliter sentis, rescribe quam primum.(Epistulae ad Quintum Fratrem 3.1.1.1) Cicero – Aili J. Dec 27 '16 at 23:03
  • and here is another - thalamus – Aili J. Dec 27 '16 at 23:04
  • @AiliJ. I always think of a thalamus as a bedroom specifically, a place for sleeping rather than for interacting. L&S suggest that testūdō referred less to the room and more to the construction, like camera or fornix. – Draconis Dec 28 '16 at 1:40
  • It should further be mentioned that thalamus is Greek and isn't common (at all?) until the Augustan period. – C. M. Weimer Dec 28 '16 at 6:53
6

Since classical sources usually refer only to the dwellings of the upper classes and better-off citizens, our knowledge is restricted to the terms in common use there. In either domus or villa there are one or two choices for 'living room'. After the defeat of Corinth in 146 BC, the Romans took much of value (in all senses) from the Greeks, including architectural ideas and terms, among which are words for various rooms.

If you want the room where family members go for relaxation or where women foregather for their own pursuits (such as spinning and weaving), oecus is not a bad choice (adopted from Greek οίκος). It was often spacious and might be used for dining if the house did not contain a room (otherwise a triclinium or coenatio) dedicated to the purpose. An exedra was a room used for conversation and social gatherings and may also be appropriate, as may also camera, which in a domus is a room with a vaulted ceiling. There is also diaeta, a suite of rooms reserved to particular users for their own purposes, which might serve as 'living room'.

We depend for such words on deduction from a variety of texts, observation from buildings of known function and speculation on archaeological finds.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.