In classical Latin, what is the best adverb for describing approximate numbers? If several work well, are there any differences? I mean saying things like "I have about ten euros". I would translate that as decem fere eurones habeo. My preference is fere, but there are other words in the same direction (ferme, circa, prope, quasi, iuxta, paene) and I do not know if there is a typical classical idiom.

  • 1
    I'm glad you asked!
    – ktm5124
    Jan 28, 2017 at 5:49

1 Answer 1


You've already hit upon all the words I would use except ad as a preposition. For example, Cicero uses ad quadriginta natus esse as a synonym for fere. But in general, circa and circiter both work.

To my ears, paene would mean "almost, but not quite" rather than "around that neighborhood." Others are all general idioms for "approximately." I wouldn't, for example, use paene decem if you might have 11 euros. That word, with some unusual exceptions, seems more to mean "just about" rather than "about." See the L&S entry on it.

  • Thank you! I did wonder if I should include ad in the list but decided to leave it out. Do you happen to know which of these words are most common?
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Jan 28, 2017 at 5:59
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    @JoonasIlmavirta I don't know 100%, but from my overall impression, circa is most common.
    – cmw
    Jan 28, 2017 at 6:13
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    Circa is certainly the one which survived with that meaning, though whether that says anything about classical usage is debatable.
    – Draconis
    Jan 28, 2017 at 7:15

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