How can I say "he did it out of vanity" in Latin? The only thing I could see is a causal ablative: vanitate sua ita fecit. Are there other options for doing something "out of vanity", "out of pity", or out of any other such thing? Or is the ablative (essentially) the only possibility? I am not sure if the direct translation e vanitate is possible.

Please note that this question is about structures, not specific words, but in case it matters, the key example is "out of vanity".

  • How do you call this construction (out of XX) in linguistics?
    – Pablo
    Oct 18, 2022 at 9:27
  • @Pablo I don't know. Perhaps the linguistics site can help more than the Latin site. I'm not sure there is a name.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Oct 25, 2022 at 20:31

1 Answer 1


The best equivalent that comes to my mind is gen. + causā. In this case, I would translate "out of vanity" as vanitatis causā.

I found no classical examples of this exact phrase, but a Google Search reveals more than a few later examples, e.g.:

Hic ego, Rex Serenissime, res nostras non amplifico, nec vanitatis causa ostento, id quod est, nudis verbis expono. (Apologeticus pro Societate Iesu)

Interestingly, Ezra Pound wrote a letter to James Joyce in English and used this phrase as a Latin "flourish":

I once did a bad translation of Guido Cavalcanti of which I have a spare copy, it has the text with it and that might entertain you if you're not fed up with the period, or a Corbiere...or a stray leaf of my own earlier imbecilities, vanitatis causa. (Letters of Ezra Pound and James Joyce)

Your other example, "out of pity," could similarly be translated by misericordiae causā, and this time there are classical examples of this usage:

  • Cicero:

    Sed haec nescio quo modo frequenter in me congessisti saneque in eo creber fuisti, te idcirco in ludos causam conicere noluisse ne ego mea consuetudine aliquid de tensis misericordiae causa dicerem, quod in aliis aedilibus ante fecissem. (Cicero, Pro Plancio 83)

  • Digesta Iustiniani:

    Si quis ab alio acceperit pecuniam ne mihi negotium faciat, si quidem mandatu meo datum est, uel a procuratore meo mnium rerum, uel ab eo qui negotium meum gerere uolebat et ratum habui: ego dedisse intellegor. si autem non mandatu meo alius ei licet misericordiae causa dederit ne fiat neque ratum habui, tunc et ipsum repetere et me in quadruplum agere posse. (Iustinianus, Digesta Iustiniani 3.6.7)

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