Yesterday in our chat it turned out that we didn't know a Latin word for a typo(graphical error). For example, I typed lingarum instead of linguarum. What would be a Latin word to describe a mistyped word? Did the Romans have a word for it? Perhaps something like error stili would work, but I have failed to find any classical attestations. I am sure the phenomenon itself existed in Rome, an people who have studied inscriptions have told me that it is not rare to find misinscribed words — if that is a word.

  • 1
    Isn't it lapsus (plumæ/calami)?
    – user28434
    Commented Sep 5, 2017 at 8:26
  • @user28434 I don't know. If you do, please write it as an answer!
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Commented Sep 5, 2017 at 8:28

1 Answer 1


1. Mendum

Mendum corresponds exactly to this sense:

mendum,¹⁴ ī, n., faute, erreur [dans un texte]mendum,¹⁴ ī, n., faute, erreur [dans un texte] : ; Att. 13, 23, 2

a fault, error, blunder in writing (class.).


  • quod mendum ista litura correxit?, Cic. Verr. 2, 2, 104
  • tantum librariorum menda tolluntur, Cic, Att., 13, 23, 2: *

Mendum typographicum

According to A Copious and Critical English-Latin Lexicon, article « PRESS », a mendum typographicum means more precisely a typo where a wrong letter is used (in French, une coquille). There are many attestations of it in modern Latin:

  • 1710, Bibliothèque choisie, pour servir de suite à la Bibliothèque universelle, Le Clerc, p.99: Epistulam ad Titum fuisse scriptum anno CXCII est manifestum mendum typographicum, vel lapsus calami, qui non debuerat transire in Editionem Amsterlodamensem.
  • Many examples on Gallica

2. Error seu erratum

More simply, the words error or erratum can also be used with the meaning of a typo.

  • Cic, Att., 6, 1, 17 : At me hercule ego, cum in turma inauratarum equestrium quas hic Metellus in Capitolio posuit animadvertissem in Serapionis subscriptione Africani imaginem, erratum fabrile putavi, nunc video Metelli.
  • Quint., Inst., I, 47 : Pronomen quoque genus numerum casus habet, quae omnia recipiunt huius modi errorem.

Error typographicum seu typographicus

It can have the more precise sens of a typo where a wrong word is put (un bourdon in French).

  • A Copious and Critical English-Latin Lexicon, article « PRESS »
  • Deutsch-Lateinisches Wörterbuch von C. L. Bauer, article « FEHLER »
  • Lateinisch-deutsches und deutsch-lateinisches Schul-worterbuch von C. F. Ingerslev, article « DRUCKFEHLER »

Examples for error typographicum/s:

  • 1618, Romanae correctionis in Latinis Bibliis editionis vulgatae, Franciscus Lucas: ISAIAS v.20: (…) Vix dubito quin sit hic error typographicus in editione Romana etc.
  • Many examples on Google Books

3. Vitium

  • Quint. Inst., I, 5, 5: Sed quia interim excusantur haec vitia aut consuetudine aut auctoritate aut vetustate aut denique vicinitate virtutum (nam saepe a figuris ea separare difficile est): ne qua tam lubrica observatio fallat, acriter se in illud tenue discrimen grammaticus intendat, de quo nos latius ibi loquemur ubi de figuris orationis tractandum erit.

Vitium typographicum

It can have the more precise sense of a blunder that destroys the sense of the text (un bourdon in French, or un mastic).

  • A Copious and Critical English-Latin Lexicon, article « PRESS »
  • "worterbuch" is also a typo. Yours.
    – fdb
    Commented Aug 2, 2021 at 20:29

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