I would like to understand the Latin participle differens and compare it to the English adjective "different". The verb differre means roughly "to carry apart", but Lewis Elementary also lists "to be different" among the translations. With this meaning it seems that differens can mean "different".

I got the feeling that the meanings of differens and "different" overlap, but neither includes the other. It seems that if I want to say "different", I should probably try some other word than differens first, like dissimilis. Is this correct, or should I look at it some other way? How would you compare differens and "different"?

1 Answer 1


Yes, in my opinion that is correct. While differens is sometimes used as different, the literal translation of different is dissimilis (which is reflected in other latin-derived languages). Generally differens is used as "superior" or "excellent", in the sense that it is set apart from everything else for that reason.

  • 3
    Thanks for the answer! Do you have sources or quotes you can add to support your points?
    – brianpck
    Commented Feb 14, 2017 at 17:18

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