What do you call an audio recording in Latin?

Smith's Copious and Critical English-Latin Dictionary fails me here. It came out in 1870, predating Edison's invention of the phonograph by seven years.

As I'm asking this during the height of the Internet era, I'm interested not just in a Latin word for a phonograph record, but in a generic term for any audio recording regardless of the form in which the sound is represented.

3 Answers 3


The living Latinists I know use the verb incīdere, as in "to cut into [an LP]." Woefully out of date but there's lots of recording terminology that we still use from Ye Olde Days so I figure it's okay. I've heard both incīsum and incīsiō as a noun.

  • Is that verb used for "to record"?
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Commented Dec 2, 2017 at 15:07
  • Yeah, as in "cut in" (to an LP). Out of date but. Commented Dec 2, 2017 at 15:22
  • Oh, right. It was probably my being dense, but I wasn't sure what you meant. I also first thought you meant incidere instead of incīdere... Can you add that extra description in?
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Commented Dec 2, 2017 at 16:48
  • 1
    Done! (I was on my phone, which I haven't yet figured out how to force to produce macrons.) Commented Dec 2, 2017 at 16:50
  • There are still some who say that the entire Latin language is out of date. All the more reason to use incīdere the way people say "dial" in English to mean "place a telephone call".
    – Ben Kovitz
    Commented Dec 2, 2017 at 21:24

An audio recording is something that is intended for — as you might put it — seeking out and hearing again. This suggests the use of repeto for the verbal part, to follow vox, which I agree with Joonas is the best word for any recorded sound.

On this basis, I recommend vox repetenda.


The best word for "audio" that I could think of is vox. There are several words for sound, but vox sounds more neutral to me than canor, clamor, or strepitus, for example. However, vox is not easily recognized as a technical term "audio" as opposed to "sound" or "voice" when the distinction is important, so beware.

The word "audio" of course comes from Latin and has made its way to a number of languages, but I would advice against using the word in Latin. One could treat it as a noun in analogue to volo, but I'm suspicious of that analogy. I am even more suspicious of the noun audium. If you want to use the verb audire without losing too much in style or intelligibility, I recommend audiendum.

The word "recording" is complicated, too. The best noun I found was vivarium, but it might be too colorful for a technical term. I used this word in the sense that a recording keeps a sound alive but confined, ready to be released, as if recorded audio was a caged animal. You might be better off with a verb like conservare, condere, or similar.

Collecting these ideas, my suggestion for "audio recording" is vox conservata. Sure, it sounds quite a bit like "pickled voice", but I don't see a way around connotations of this kind. (I would like to see if someone else sees one!)

Side remark: I answered the question as stated (and it is an interesting one). Judging by the linked questions, you wanted to write something like this:

Take a look at this page with an audio recording of Hans Ørberg reading chapters from one to ten of Lingua Latina [per se illustrata].

Wording is a matter of taste, but I would work myself around the noun "audio" here. I might render it like so:

In hac pagina capitula a primo ad decimum Linguae Latinae [per se illustratae] a Iohanne Ørbergio recitata invenies.

  • @JoonasIlmavirta do you think that, had audio recordings been around at the time, nota, -ae might have been used in conjunction with vox? to produce something along the lines of 'voice note'? Similar to your suggestion of vox conservata above... Commented Dec 4, 2017 at 11:34
  • @NeilHibbert That's a possibility. You'd probably want to use the noun nota with an adjective related to sound or vox with an adjective derived from nota. I prefer the former.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Commented Dec 4, 2017 at 13:26

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