I noticed that there is no word meaning firearm according to this site.Why is this? I've tried synonyms such as gun and pistol but none work. Has no one gotten around to making one?

2 Answers 2


It pains me to suggest that Latin Wikipedia is in error, but Latin Wikipedia is in error. The arma ignifera Nathanial suggests is in fact a word for firearm that some have used, but it's in the silva of the Morgan lexicon, not the adumbratio. The difference between the two is explained in a short piece by the lexicon's current editor, Patrick Owens:

The Morgan-Owens Latin Lexicon is found under the link entitled "adumbratio". The link entitled "silva" is a mere collection of other modern Latin dictionaries. If a term appears in the "silva" but not in the "adumbratio" it is because it has been intentionally rejected on philological grounds.

In the adumbratio, Morgan too went with sclopetum for a long gun and pistola for a short one, though I suspect fistula is better.

For "firearm" the only thing I've seen is manuballista, which is a little too broad; it's the word the Romans used for the hand-held version of the ballista, a siege engine—so essentially a crossbow. If you're willing to include crossbows in your definition of "firearms" then manuballista is actually perfect.

  • 2
    Because a teacher of mine once presented a very convincing argument that "pistola" was derived from "fistula." Unfortunately, all I have in my notes is "pistola<—fistula," so I can't share it here. Commented Mar 14, 2016 at 21:49
  • 4
    Okay, fair enough. Thanks for the distinction on silva vs. adumbratio; that's very helpful. Commented Mar 14, 2016 at 21:54
  • 2
    No problem. I actually only learned about it a month ago, at the Paideia Institute Living Latin in NYC conference. Commented Mar 14, 2016 at 22:00
  • 3
    The nice thing about "pistola" is that it's the same in Italian, which provides a nice bit of credibility.
    – anon
    Commented Mar 15, 2016 at 18:48
  • 1
    Francis William Newman's translation of Robinson Crusoe into Classical Latin uses "ignipulta" for a gun, but it's definitely not official, and very old. In fact, the book was published in the 1800s. Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 1:29

The Latin Wikipedia currently uses arma ignifera, citing David Morgan's Lexicon Anglico-Latinum.

Based on other lexicons, the Latin Wikipedia uses sclopetum for long guns, while pistols are pistolium.

John C. Traupman uses sclopetum for both "gun" and "rifle" in his Conversational Latin for Oral Proficiency and Bantam New College Dictionary, but gives no entry for "pistol."


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.