This earlier question asked about translating a sentence about book reviews. Translating the concept correctly was unimportant, since the question was about syntax and pronouns. In my answer I gave the translation contemplatio for "review", so that "a review of Brutus's book" became contemplatio libri Bruti. This translation was a bit hasty, but I couldn't come up with anything better later on, either.

How would you say "book review" and "a review of B's book" in Latin? It would be great if the same word could be used for other reviews, too (plays, movies, music…). I'm not sure if a comparable concept existed in antiquity, so I won'd restrict the era.

3 Answers 3


I would venture censura or recensio. It seems Aulus Gellius and others used censura in that sense; so Lewis & Short:

A. A judgment, opinion, in gen. (prob. not ante-Aug.), Ov. R. Am. 362: "vivorum", Vell. 2, 36, 3: "vini", Plin. 14, 6, 8, 72: "culinarum", id. 9, 54, 79, 169: "cachinni", Juv. 10, 31: "de omni scripto (Senecae) judicium censuramque facere", Gell. 12, 2, 2. —

This sense was probably derived from its main sense, a review or enumeration as done by a censor for the purpose of taxation.

Recensio seems to have been used less in the desired sense, but rather in the primary censorial sense; however, Pinkster mentions the use of recenseo as "judge critically, test, review", in the context of poems:

(Gell.) kritisch beoordelen, toetsen, herzien [poëmata].

A more general alternative is aestimatio for "opinion, judgement".


The answers given by friends here are all good ones, and my answer isn't really to contradict their own, but to compile and add to for a more holistic answer. If you haven't noticed by now, I like the source Morgan and Silva Furman University Lexicon, which provides the following options:

Book Review (Noun)*

  • Existimatio libri - "the judgement of a book" (Vox Latina/LRL)
  • Recensio libri - "the assessment of a book" (Springhetti)
  • Censura libri - "the appraisal of a book" (Springhetti)
  • Recensus libri - "the appraisal of a book"
  • Aestimatio libri - "the valuation of a book" (Helfer)
  • Iudicium libri - "the judgement of a book" (Levine)

Review (Verb)

  • Scripta existimo - "to value the literary works"

Reviewer (Noun)

  • Existimans librorum^ - "(the one) judging the books" (Levine)

So we see here many options, accompanied by their respective literal translations, as well as their source. It seems the common thread between the noun "book review," the verb "to review (books)," and the noun "reviewer" is the use of the verb existimare, which suggests that this could be the best option, especially seeing as it is used by multiple sources. However, an argument can (and has been) made for words like censura or recensio. That is why I provided a literal translation of these phrases. This provides for a sense of what the word means. A lot of the options (censura and recensio included) have a more financial/monetary connotation to them (i.e. the valuation of their material worth), while words like existimatio have a more value/opinion sense to them (i.e. the opinion of the reviewer of its intellectual/artistic worth). In the end, it is up to the author to decide which of these options works best for them!

*The use of libri after each noun appears to be optional (i.e. it could be omitted if desired), but it may make more sense to keep it for clarity's sake.

^I don't particularly like the use of a present participle here, especially when there is already a mechanism in place in Latin for creating an agent of a verb. Using said mechanism and the verb existimare, the word for book reviewer would be existimator librorum.


You might simply use sententia, though I'd say censura is rather more appropriate. This example from Aulus Gellius XII, 2 should be quite helpful:

Mihi de omni eius ingenio deque omni scripto iudicium censuramque facere non necessum est.

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