In Latin today, we ran across the word "esto", which our teacher told us is the future singular imperative of "sum, esse". When I half-jokingly asked what the plural was, he thought for a few seconds and stated that, while it probably exists, he'd never seen it, but if he had to guess, he'd say "estote".

After an admittedly brief search, seeing as I don't really know where to look, I can't find "estote" anywhere. However, Victionarium, and William Whitaker's Words confirm it exists. Where does it appear? Or do we just add -te to create the plural like any other infinitive and assume that it's correct?

NB: While I'd prefer examples in Classical Latin, usage in any Latin is fine.


3 Answers 3


In the Perseus Project, I see many occurrences of estote; a disproportionate number of them appear to be in St. Jerome's Latin Vulgate. Here are two examples:

1 Maccabees 2:50, Latin Vulgate

nunc ergo o filii aemulatores estote legis et date animas vestras pro testamento patrum

Now therefore, O (my) sons, be zealots of the law...

1 Corinthians 4:16

rogo ergo vos imitatores mei estote

I ask you: be imitators of me.

For a use in the Classical period, see this from Seneca the Elder(54 BC – c. 39 AD):

Quid fletis, pueri? securi estote;

Boys, why do you cry? Be free from care!

So, it could be that it's a rare construction, but for whatever reason, Jerome uses it a number of times. It's worth noting that again according to the Perseus project, estote can also come from edo, so those search results are an upper bound on the number of occurrences (at least twice as the plural future imperative of esse).

  • 1
    Jerome's estote is translating the Greek γίνεσθε (ginesthe), which indeed is the 2nd person plural imperative of γίγνομαι (gignomai).
    – cmw
    Commented Mar 8, 2016 at 13:06

Estōte occurs five times in Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata by Hans Henning Ørberg. This textbook, written in the 20th century, teaches elementary conversational classical Latin by example. The story is set in about 150 A.D., is limited to basic language, and often presents simplified versions of excerpts from classical works, sometimes quoting directly when the language is basic enough. It's my understanding that Ørberg took historical accuracy very seriously in LLPSI. I take Ørberg's use of estōte to mean that it's basic Latin that everyone should feel comfortable with.

Here are three examples.

p. 209, illustrating gerundium:

Industriī estōte in scrībendō, discipulī!

p. 282, illustrating the plural imperātīvus futūrī:

Magister: "Posthāc bonī discipulī estōte, puerī! Semper mihi pārētōte! Dīligenter audītōte! Pulchrē recitātōte et rēctē scrībitōte!"

p. 225–226, quoting Matthew 14:26–27:

Discipulī autem videntēs eum super mare ambulantem turbātī sunt dīcentēs: "Phantasma est!" et prae timōre clāmāvērunt. Statimque Iēsūs locūtus est eīs dīcēns: "Cōnstantēs estōte! Ego sum. Nōlīte timēre!"

I think this is from a version of Matthaeus in use in 150 A.D.; see here for a similar one. Jerome's version has habete fiduciam rather than constantes estote. However, a quick Google search suggests that constantes estote and similar are common expressions. Constantes estote et videbitis auxilium Domini super vos, Estote fortes in bello, etc.

Quārē dubitāstī? :)

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    While estote is indeed used in Latin, and your examples aren't wrong per se, I feel that it's cheating a bit to use a textbook for examples answering if the future imperative was used. Moreover, the Matthew example is a translation, so it too isn't best as an example, although in this case it's seems a good example of a vulgar translation since neither constantes estote or habete fiduciam translate θαρσεῖτε well, but Jerome's feels more Classical (disclaimer: I haven't done the research on either phrase).
    – cmw
    Commented Mar 7, 2016 at 4:35
  • @C.M.Weimer I wouldn't call this a definitive answer, but it's suggestive indirect evidence. It's my understanding that Ørberg took historical accuracy very seriously in LLPSI; I'm just going on Ørberg's authority.
    – Ben Kovitz
    Commented Mar 7, 2016 at 5:20

Not only was estote used, but also the third person plural future imperative sunto. This is not limited to esse; a quick search produced examples for facere as well (facito, facitote, faciunto).

Besides using a specialized search tool like James Kingsbery mentions, you can also use Google. Knowing that The Latin Library contains a lot of relevant texts, searching for "site:thelatinlibrary.com estote" is a simple way to find examples.

I will leave finding examples of the mentioned forms to you because I want to encourage you to play with such search tools. You may also want to check out our list of Latin text corpora and related tools.

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