What would be a good Latin translation for "fan", a fanatic supporter or follower of a sports team, an artist, or some such thing?

I realize that the English word is short for "fanatic", which in turn derives from fanaticus, but it is by no means obvious that the etymological origin is the best translation. It has the benefit of being easily associated, but that alone feels like insufficient grounds to pick it. According to Lewis and Short fanaticus does mean "inspired" or "enthusiastic", but it also means "pertaining to a temple" and appears to have strong religious connotations unlike the concept I am after.

2 Answers 2


You are right in the etymology and whatnot of "fan," but that doesn't quite lead to a representative noun. I used the Morgan and Silva Furman University Lexicon to find some words, which I list here in the order they appear in the lexicon, with some added notes:

  • admirator studiosissimus: literally "the most eager admirer," I would think this would be better for the phrase "#1 fan" instead of just an ordinary fan
  • fautor: a favorer, promoter, partisan, or applauder

The above terms come from the Adumbratio, while the following are from the Silva:

  • (fautor) fanaticus: an "enthusiastic one/fan," here we do see the English root return, but as a substantive adjective, or just an adjective
  • philathlus: of Greek origin, "one who is fond of games, a competitor," not exactly a fan per se

What's interesting is that admirator does not appear alone, despite meaning "admirer." Perhaps fan is a stronger word, but it depends on what you want to do. Someone who is a fan of art (I'm thinking art as in painting here) is probably not the obnoxious, half-drunken, scream-at-the-top-of-their-lungs sports fan, so maybe this is where such a differentiation would be useful. However, all of the terms from the Adumbratio are not specific to sports, and are therefore the most likely widely applicable terms.

  • Side note: φίλαθλος is a modern Greek translation for fan according to Wiktionary. Greek Wiktionary gives the obvious etymology. Not sure if Ancient Greek had it too.
    – MickG
    Commented Dec 21, 2017 at 16:35
  • φῐλ-αθλος, ον, "fond of games (i e. as a competitor)" according to L/S, with citations from fairly late authors. But this is not really what is meant by "fan". @MickG.
    – fdb
    Commented Dec 21, 2017 at 18:02
  • perseus.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/philologic/…
    – fdb
    Commented Dec 21, 2017 at 18:04
  • @fdb Ditto on the thanks! I will update my answer with this information.
    – Sam K
    Commented Dec 21, 2017 at 21:35
  • 2
    I think fautor is good, because Pliny (whom I seem to cite endlessly these days) has a letter (9.6) where he describes, in a very disdainful way, the fans of races in the Circus; although he doesn't use fautor itself, he uses both favor and faveo to talk about the blind, irrational mania for the various teams in the event, and their 'jerseys.'
    – cnread
    Commented Dec 22, 2017 at 2:25

The word admirator,-oris, which is the agent noun of the deponent verb admiror,-ari,-atum.

In French and Italian the cognates of admirator are used to as synonyms of fan.


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