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It's sometimes difficult to convey some meaning in such an old language as Latin. I have trouble with the word interesting. I've heard someone say iucundus in this meaning, but it's not an accurate translation.

Neither is attractivus – being attractive is something else that being interesting.

Since the word seems very Latin – how should we translate it?

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    It'd be helpful if you provided some context. The relationship between interesting and a Latin word may not be one-to-one, so (for example) providing some example sentences might be helpful. Commented Feb 27, 2016 at 15:55
  • From Strunk and White: "An unconvincing word; avoid it as a means of introduction. Instead of announcing that what you are about to tell is interesting, make it so." The solution is probably to be more specific about what's meant by "interesting" in that context. Commented Feb 29, 2016 at 18:23

4 Answers 4

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Well, interesting is actually quite Latin, given that it comes (I believe) from interest, which means (among other things), "it matters" or "it is of concern." So one way to do it would be to say meá interest ("it matters to me, it makes a difference to me"), but that doesn't have the positive connotations that "interesting" has.

Another way to say it—and the one I usually use (and have heard other Latin speakers use), given that it does have that positive connotation—is studium excitat, "it arouses eagerness/zeal/study."

Alas, if you're looking for an actual adjective, you may be SOL.

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  • The verb interest + pronoun is a good choice, I think, but you'll want to make sure that you use the ablative feminine possessive adjective (e.g., mea, tua) since interest borrows its construction from refert. See Lewis and Short intersum section III:Esp.: intĕrest, impers., it makes a difference, interests, concerns, imports; is of interest, importance; constr. with gen. pers. or meā, tuā, suā, and with a subj. or rel. clause,
    – cjmcnamara
    Commented Feb 28, 2016 at 3:55
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To add to Joel Derfner's suggestion of studium excitat:

Ovid Ex Ponto IV.3.35 Excitat auditor studium, "An audience stirs interest" (translation source).

See also on the title of the Lutheran journal Studium Excitare (source):

"Studium Excitare" is a Latin phrase that means "to arouse zeal." The phrase is often used in historic Lutheran writings.

This is putting aside more specific descriptions such as mirus, insolitus, visu/lectu/etc. dignus, and as you say iucundus.

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The English interesting etymologically comes from Latin impersonal verb meā/tuā/nostrā interest, but in Latin it is a neutral way of saying it is of interest/concern/importance (for example, tuā et meā maxime interest, te valere Cic. Fam. 16, 4) and the expression does not have the vaguely positive connotations of English interesting (which can be applied to almost everything!).

The meaning of interesting may be subdivided into this (rough and by no means exhaustive) list:

  1. Something that is pleasant to behold, to converse with, to read, etc. In this case iucundus is a good equivalent.
  2. Something wonderful, strange, remarkable. Mirus/mirandus will do for this.
  3. Something that moves and inspires, excites interest – in this case, excitat studium [legendi/audiendi/scribendi ... ] (for example, Quamquam enim libri nostri complures non modo ad legendi, sed etiam ad scribendi studium excitaverunt Cic. Off. 2.2.2.), studium excitans.
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This abstract concept is one that seems to be relatively rarely found compared to how common it is in English. Maybe it is cultural thing? Depending on the form of expression different words are found. For example, in the context of a state of mind the word intersum (to lie between) is sometimes used:

Interest scire quale senatus consultum fuerit ("It is interesting to know what kind of decree the senate made")

When we describe an object or thing as being interesting, then the adjective iucundus (as mentioned in other answers) is common. A similare adjective is gratus:

sermones inferet vel gratos vel novos ("It will introduce discussions that are interesting and novel")

Another possible adjective is curiosus. For example:

Acci positum curiose ("Accius has put in an interesting way") --Varro

Often the idea is expressed indirectly, such as by the gerundive:

Prope oblitus sum quod maxime fuit scribendum ("I almost forgot the most interesting thing of all", literally what must written) --Cicero

quidquid visendum atque memorabile ex antiquitate duraverat ("Whatever is interesting [=must be seen] and memorable which has lasted from antiquity")

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