I would like to say "I am eating in the grocery store", and so far I have come up with "edo in foro" and "edo in emporio". But I'm not sure if either of these would be the best fit. What word would you use to describe a modern-day grocery store? On a related topic, what is the Latin equivalent of the Greek αγορά? I assume that if I were to ask the same question of Attic Greek, αγορά would be the clear choice. Please correct me if I am wrong.

  • 2
    Forum is a close equivalent of ἀγορά.
    – TKR
    Jan 8, 2017 at 22:43
  • 2
    @TKR: That was also Jerome’s preference in the Vulgate. Jan 9, 2017 at 0:32

1 Answer 1


The word to use is probably macellum. Lewis & Short offers:

macellum, i (macellus, i, m., Mart. 10, 96, 9), n. root μαχ-; cf. Gr. μάχομαι, to fight; cf. μάχαιρα, μάχη, and mactāre; prop. butcher's stall, shambles; hence, transf., meat-market, provision-market (where flesh, fish, and vegetables were sold). Lit.: venio ad macellum, rogito pisces, Plaut. Aul. 2, 8, 3: apud emporium atque in macello, id. Am. 4, 1, 4: nostin' porticum apud macellum hac deorsum? Ter. Ad. 4, 2, 34: excandefacere annonam macelli, Varr. R. R. 3, 2, 16; cf.: putarem annonam in macello cariorem fore, Cic. Div. 2, 27, 59: barathrum macelli, Hor. Ep. 1, 15, 31: quae est ista laus, quae possit e macello peti? Cic. Fin. 2, 15, 50: dispositis circa macellum custodibus, Suet. Caes. 43: cetariorum, Varr. R. R. 3, 17, 7: ad ipsum introitum exspectare macelli, Juv. 11, 10: retibus adsiduis penitus scrutante macello proxima, id. 5, 95.

—In masc.: conturbator macellus, Mart. 10, 96, 9.

—Plur.: fercula nullis ornata macellis, Juv. 11, 64.

—* Transf., meat: arcessitur inde macellum, Manil. 5, 370.

Meanwhile, to go grocery shopping would probably be obsono:

obsōnō āvī, ātus, āre, o)ywne/w, to buy provisions, cater, purvey: cum fide, T.: Vix drachumis est obsonatum decem, T.

—To feast, treat, furnish an entertainment: de meo, T.

—To provide, prepare: ambulando famem, get an appetite.

  • 3
    Meat is not a grocery, at least not on this side of the Atlantic.
    – fdb
    Jan 8, 2017 at 23:48
  • 5
    Interesting. On the west side of the Atlantic it is—"flesh, fish, and vegetables" are all sold in the same place. Jan 9, 2017 at 0:02
  • Thanks! I found it helpful to learn that obsono comes from the Greek ὀψωνέω. Before this, the word looked very strange to me. It's easy to presume that it's a compound verb with the prefix ob- and the root sono. But I guess this is one of those cases where you can't break a word down into its parts and get a sense of its meaning. On another topic, I find it interesting that this happens to be a loanword. I wonder whether the Greeks had more of a shopping culture than the Romans at the time this word was introduced.
    – ktm5124
    Jan 9, 2017 at 20:17

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