In Latin, meat is called "carnis". Is there a specific Latin word or expression for a person who eats meat but not fish or seafood in general? Is "carnitarian" a Latin word?

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    Are you looking for a Latin word, or an English word of Latin origin? If it's the latter, I can move this to the English site where they would better be able to help.
    – cmw
    Commented Feb 6 at 18:53
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    @cmw Right now I am looking for a Latin word. If I want to ask about an English word of Latin origin, I will ask that as a separate question on english.stackexchange.com.
    – Arunabh
    Commented Feb 6 at 19:26
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    I asked because a word like "carnitarian", your example, would be English, not Latin.
    – cmw
    Commented Feb 6 at 19:30
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    Modern concepts like this usually don't have a direct translation in Latin. They are typically expressed using a periphrasis, such as "qui/quae solum carnem edit" (he/she who only eats meat). Commented Feb 13 at 17:52
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    Here's Pomponius Mela describing what we would call a "pescatarian": "quidam nullum animal occidere, nulla carne vesci optimum existimant, quosdam tantum pisces alunt."
    – brianpck
    Commented Mar 8 at 18:01

1 Answer 1


"Carnitarian" is not a Latin word, no. The Latin equivalent would be carnivorus, the ancestor of English "carnivore"—literally, "flesh-eating".

However, fish can be considered caro in Classical Latin, and thus a carnivorus creature can still eat them. For example, from Pliny the Elder:

Omnia autem carnivora sunt talia et supina vescuntur, ut in delphinis diximus, et cum ceteri pisces ova pariant, hoc genus solum, ut ea quae cete appellant, animal parit, excepta quam ranam vocant.

All of these sorts [of cartilaginous fish] are carnivorous, and feed lying on their backs, as we've said about dolphins, and while other fish lay eggs, this type alone, like the one they name the "cete", gives birth to live offspring, except the one they call the "rana".

(Rana here is the common monkfish, according to Lewis and Short; cete is presumably some kind of whale but I don't know which.)

Since this is a passage about fish, presumably the caro they eat is other fish rather than terrestrial creatures. I'm not aware of any Latin word that refers to all non-fish meat—there are words for specific types, but not a general term that excludes fish.

However, if you're looking at Ecclesiastical Latin, you're in luck! Doctrinally, fish is not considered caro by the Roman Catholic Church—this matters for Lent purposes, where people are supposed to abstain from caro on specific days but can eat fish (including some odd exceptions like capybaras).

So if you wanted to use carnivorus to mean "eating meat but not fish", you could always say you're using it in the Catholic sense, where a carnivorus eats beef, pork, and chicken, but not fish or capybaras.

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    I wonder to what extent this is in fact due to the Catholic Church. "Flesh-meat" meant (and still means) "all meat except seafood." I noticed that Thomas Aquinas sometimes uses caro to the exclusion of piscis and sometimes talks about caro piscium.
    – brianpck
    Commented Mar 8 at 18:58

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