Would the genitive case be used here? Example:

Alumnus mathematicae

Or should the nominative be used?

Alumnus mathematica

  • 3
    Is your intention with the nominative a construction like "the mathematical student"? If so, the adjective should at least agree with the noun in gender. Either way, alumnus doesn't really mean 'student'.
    – Cairnarvon
    Commented May 24 at 1:42

1 Answer 1


The most common word for a student in classical Latin is discipulus. However, this usually stresses the student's relationship to the teacher rather than to the subject matter.

For a person's relationship to a particular discipline, the verb studere (to eagerly apply one's self to something) is most often employed, with a dative specifying the domain of application. For example, litteris studere is "to study literature," not necessarily in the sense of being formally enrolled in a school, but in the sense that one is devoting time and effort to improving one's grasp of literature. So, "students of literature" would be aptly rendered qui litteris student ("those who study literature").

From studere comes the adjective studiosus, which can take a genitive specifying the object of one's studious activity. And this adjective can be used as a substantive: so, eloquentiae studiosus can mean "a student of eloquence." Pliny the Elder wrote a now lost rhetorical manual titled Studiosus, which seems to translate pretty smoothly as "The Student."

In later Latin, the word schola (school) yielded the substantive adjective scholaris, which denoted a student enrolled in a school. This could be used with a genitive or the preposition in. So, a student undergoing his introductory grammar education at a medieval university could be referred to as "scholaris artis grammaticae" or "scholaris in grammaticalibus".

In summary, "math student" might be rendered studiosus matheseos or studiosus Mathematicae. For a formally enrolled student, it is also possible to use scholaris, which may be preferable if one wants a gender-neutral term. Otherwise, one must use studiosa for a female student.

  • "Matheseos" ?
    – Cairnarvon
    Commented May 24 at 15:07
  • @Cairnarvon Genitive of mathesis, at least in medieval and early modern Latin, where you can see it in the titles of treatises and in descriptions of scholars Commented May 24 at 16:06
  • Yeah. It's not Latin, and it doesn't mean 'mathematics'. It's an unadapted Greek word that people use to mean 'learning' or 'knowledge' (as the Greek μάθησις itself means) or specifically 'astrology'. AFAIK the only person to use it in a sense that arguably means 'mathematics' is JF Hennert in fully the 18th century—I don't see how it's a defensible choice as an answer to this question, especially without explicit caveats. I'm also not a fan of studiosus, which is almost always an adjective in any era.
    – Cairnarvon
    Commented May 24 at 17:40
  • @Cairnarvon "matheseos studiosus" was used in early modern university matriculation registers to denote students studying in the faculty of mathematics. One may argue that this is a late practice, but I would counter that the concept of someone being a "math student", i.e., someone specializing in mathematics as a primary field of study at an institution of higher learning, is itself a late concept. And I am following established usage. For one example, see Harm Beukers, "Studying Medicine in Leiden in the 1630s," in “A Man Very Well Studyed”: New Contexts for Thomas Browne, 62. Commented May 24 at 20:32
  • That's exactly the sort of context that should have been in your original answer. As it stands, it's actively misleading.
    – Cairnarvon
    Commented May 24 at 21:18

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