Is there a Latin expression for a single parent? By single parent I mean the only (present) parent of a child, and I don't want to comment on the reason the other biological parent is not there. Was there any fixed phrase for this in classical Latin, or was it explained in different words each time it was needed? I don't think being left alone with a child or children was unheard of in the Roman society; there must have been single fathers and mothers, and not only due to deaths.

I might use solus or viduus (together with parens, pater, or mater). I'm not sure if viduus would imply that the other parent is dead. Ideally, I would like an expression that does not assume that. But if there is a good expression for a widow parent, I would like hear it.

1 Answer 1


Some quotes from Amoris Laetitia (by Pope Francis) might give some hints (English here, Latin here):

  • Point 49:

English: For example, if a single mother has to raise a child by herself ...

Latin: Exempli gratia, si mulier quaedam sola suum filium alere debet ...

  • Point 197:

English: This larger family should provide love and support to teenage mothers, children without parents, single mothers left to raise children, ...

Latin: Amplificata haec familia oporteret puellas matres amantius accipiat atque pueros parentibus carentes, mulieres solas, quarum est educationem filiis tradere ...

  • Point 252:

English: Single-parent families often result from ... Whatever the cause, single parents must receive encouragement ...

Latin: Familiae monoparentales saepe oriuntur e ... Quaecumque est causa, parens qui cum filio habitat sustentaculum

I think it is remarkable that monoparental is also recognised (perhaps instituted) by the Vatican as a valid Latin word! Wiktionary does not do so. So there you go, you can use monoparental in Latin, it seems. (Although, the plural as monoparent+ ales might well be an inheritance from Pope Francis's native Spanish, since the plural in English is monoparentals)

  • Good find! The intended Latin nominative is certainly monoparentalis.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    May 21, 2018 at 15:58

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