It occurred to me that I don't know a good Latin word for a vacation. I don't mean a celebration, or any religious or other public event, but just a period of time I have decided to take off work. The period can be paid or unpaid, and it might not include any noteworthy activities. I am not sure if there were vacations in Rome like there are today, and I couldn't find good fits in dictionaries. It seems that iustitium is a break from court activities and feriae sounds a bit more like a festival than vacation, but I could be mistaken. I think I have used feriae aestivae in the past to refer to a summer vacation, but I wonder if this is really a good choice. One obvious translation for "vacation" is vacatio, but it does not look that appropriate. What word(s) would you use for vacation and why?

1 Answer 1


As always, I travel to the Morgan and Silva Furman University Lexicon for more modern terms. Of course, a vacation is not necessary a modern invention, but this lexicon attempts to find the earliest forms that match the modern definitions, so here is what I found (Format: translation = literal translation):


  • commeatus, -ûs, m. = voyage/leave
  • iter recreatorium = recreational journey*
  • feriae, f.pl. = festivals
  • vacationes, f.pl. = freedoms
  • dies feriatae = days at leisure

Specific Holidays/Vacations

  • feriae nataliciae = Christmas Vacation
  • feriae aestivae = Summer Vacation

Day Off/Vacation Day/Holiday (Job)

  • dies quieti datus = day given for rest
  • dies feriatus = day at leisure

Vacation from School

  • vacatio = freedom
  • feriae

Vacation (Tourism)

  • peregrinatio voluptario = pleasant traveling*
  • peregrinatio ferialis = ferial traveling*
  • peregrinatio curiosa = careful traveling*

Now, for my comments and interpretation. As you mentioned, there are many types of vacations. From a day off, to traveling abroad, a vacation can be a very malleable term. This is reflected by the options we have here. And I have drawn several conclusions from them.

  1. A day (or days) off from school or work for leisure is a dies feriatus. This fits well as the adjective feriatus means "at leisure" rather than something closer to the traditional definition of feriae (festivals). I also like dies quieti datus in more of the sense of a day set in advance for the purpose of rest (like a random day off from school).

  2. A vacation (usually extended) for a holiday or event is a feriae (singular article with a plural noun!). It is then accompanied by an adjective indicating the holiday/festival for which it is (ex: feriae nataliciae = Christmas Vacation). This is because these vacations are given for the purpose of celebrating a specific holiday (summer is questionable, but technically fits this).

  3. A vacation in which one travels to another place could be a commeatus, iter recreatorium, peregrinatio voluptario, or peregrinatio ferialis. This is for the obvious connection they make to the journey aspect of a vacation.

*All asterisked terms are of more modern origins, so if you would like to stay classical, try other definitions.

In addition, iustitium is a court break/break from daily business due to a national calamity, so I don't know what kind of vacations you are taking, but I would avoid this one. I could maybe see it working if it was a day off because of some tragedy that befell the organization, but even that is debatable.

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