This map names a lot of tribes-people. The one in Scotland is called "Caledonii".

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I'm assuming "Caledonii" is the plural form of the people. I've also seen other maps where the land is called "Caledonia". But what I want to know is, what's the singular form when referring to just one person of the Caledonii?

My English tendencies want to say "Caledonian", but English tendencies cannot necessarily be trusted, can they.

3 Answers 3


Caledonii would be the tribes inhabiting Caledonia, the land. Think Americans and America. The word seems related to Celt, for what it's worth.

Grammatically, the singular would be Caledonius, but oddly, I cannot find Classical usage for this. It seems merely a descriptive adjective for geography/features of the land of Caledonia (such as "Caledonian Ocean," "Caledonian forest," and "Caledonian bear").

It's possible to use Caledonius (for a male, Caledonia for a female) in this way, but I'm not so sure it was ever done.

I also see online the people called Caledones. Again, though, no singular. A similar search in the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae showed up no singular. By parallel with Macedones (as Rafael points out in the comments), though, one could perhaps use Caledo (-onis).

That's not to say you can't use Caledonius, though perhaps in Latin you'd want to use vir Caledonius.

For English, Caledonian would be acceptable, though apparently not for a modern Scot.

  • Interesting. Perhaps we should ask from another angle. Italia exists for the land, so was there Italii? If so, what was the singular?
    – DrZ214
    Jun 18, 2017 at 22:45
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    @DrZ214 If you want to go the analogy route, think Gallia > Gallus, -i.
    – brianpck
    Jun 18, 2017 at 23:45
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    Tacitus has "primo statim congressu ostendamus, quos sibi Caledonia viros seposuerit" (Tac. Agr. 31.4)
    – Alex B.
    Jun 19, 2017 at 2:00
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    @DrZ214 The singular genitive and plural nominative of Gallus is Galli. When a word ends in -us, the -i (usually the genitive is given for declension) is implicitly assumed to replace -us. Similarly, we have Italus and Itali.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Jun 19, 2017 at 7:38
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    FWIW, I found "vir Macedo" in Horace (I cent. BC), and the Acts of the Apostles 16,9-12 (Greek I cent. AD/transl. IV AD)
    – Rafael
    Jun 20, 2017 at 13:08

For whatever they might be worth, there are two inscriptions from Hadrian’s wall mentioning a centurion by the name of Caledonius Secundus, in both instances in the genitive singular.




I'm not sure whether 'Caledonii' can be used in the singular, but it would not be completely out of the ordinary if it can't.

In the Aeneid Virgil regularly describes the Greeks and Trojans as the 'Danai' and the 'Teucri' respectively. But he never uses them in the singular, or as an adjective.

So in your case, if you want to translate English into Latin, you could use 'vir Caledoniorum' to say 'a Caledonian man'; if by chance you're writing Latin verse, you might consider 'vir Caledonium', a common contraction which Virgil regularly uses.

  • Does Vergilius use vir Dana(or)um/Teucr(or)um? That would be interesting to see.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Jun 20, 2017 at 11:23
  • @JoonasIlmavirta I don't think so; Vergilius often used the name of a Greek tribe as a pars pro toto adjective to describe the Greeks. Unfortunately I don't have time to look for any now, but I might if I have time later. But one example I know he uses is 'miles Dolopum', a soldier of the Dolopians which gives some support to my 'vir Caledonium' and his use of tribal names.
    – Cataline
    Jun 20, 2017 at 11:39
  • Can you add that to your answer? It'd make your point stronger.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Jun 20, 2017 at 11:59
  • While Vergil might not have referred to a single Greek with Graecus, Cicero, Livy, and Pliny all have.
    – cmw
    Jun 25, 2017 at 21:20

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