This question is based on the same book "Wolmar Schildt — sata uudissanaa" my question yesterday. The second of the two words that caught my attention was the Finnish verb "mahdollistaa", which was translated (accurately) in English as "enable". I would describe the Finnish word as "to make it possible for someone else to do something", as in "his book enabled me to solve the problem". The verb is about making things possible, not making them easy, although the two are often related. This question is about this bolded meaning, not the English "to enable" in general. It refers to making something doable, not to helping. It should be noted that the Finnish and English verbs are not exactly synonymous and are syntactically different.

The Latin translation given in the book is effici posse without further explanation. This sounds off to me, as it is closer to "to be able to be completed" than "to help someone else complete something". Is there a Latin verb that conveys the bolded idea?

I can find circumlocutions to express the same idea if necessary. What I am after is a verb like "enable" or "facilitate" that would allow me to convey the idea concisely and flexibly. If there is no good Latin word for this, I will have to live with it. In that case, are there verbs with a nearby meaning that I should keep in mind in this context?

(Main question in Finnish: Mitä on "mahdollistaa" latinaksi?)

  • habilitare is medieval, but is a regular construction also
    – Rafael
    Jan 17, 2018 at 16:51
  • 1
    potestatem dare/accipere seems to me more idiomatic, but I'm far from convinced. It would need more research
    – Rafael
    Jan 17, 2018 at 17:34
  • @Rafael Those ideas sound possible, but I agree that more research is needed. I purposely did not put an era specification, as I suspected a more appropriate verb may be found in post-classical Latin.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Jan 17, 2018 at 20:39

4 Answers 4


Cassell's Latin Dictionary has:

  • enable = dat. of person + gen. of thing + facultatem facere
  • facilitate = acc. of thing + faciliorem reddere

The Dictionary of Medieval Latin from British Sources (DMLBS) has "facilitare, to render easier, help." ( https://logeion.uchicago.edu/facilitare - attested AD 1412, plus a number of possibly earlier attestations that are undated)

  • for facultatem facere we can add copiam facere with the same formula
    – d_e
    Oct 2, 2021 at 13:15

I should think that the English 'facilitate' is close to what you are looking for, but I can't find a simple verb for it. I hope that what follows is helpful.

Smith (under 'facilitate) suggests facilius reddo, 'make easier', then gives three different examples, the first two of which are less than completely satisfactory:

  1. (Cicero, without reference), faciliorem (reddere) alicui cognationem rei, 'facilitate a person's knowledge of a thing'.

  2. Cic. Inv. 2, 26, 77 (but not verifiable in either Verr. or Vat): is locus magno ad persuadendum futurus est, 'that count will greatly facilitate conviction

  3. Ter. Heaut. Prol. 42: ut aliqua pars laboris minuatur mihi, 'to facilitate my labour in some degree'.

  • Thank you! The word "facilitate" had escaped me, but it is certainly appropriate in this context. I will add it to the question, too.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Jan 17, 2018 at 20:37

The closest I know would be adjuvans, i.e., helping in the sense of making it possible to accomplish something, thus "enabling."

  • Fortis fortuna adiuvat. I'm surprised mine was the first upvote for this answer.
    – C Monsour
    Aug 24, 2020 at 18:39

It looks like the verb you are looking for is very close semantically to allow/permit. Interestingly, you use allow in your question: "What I am after is a verb like "enable" or "facilitate" that would allow me to convey the idea concisely and flexibly".

If indeed you can use "enable" instead "allow" in that very sentence, that would suggest several verbs like: do, admitto and patior. of those I think admitto might be usually the better fit.

L&S under II, looks promising:

Of an act, event, etc., to let it be done, to allow, permit.

With acc. and inf.: “non admisit quemquam se sequi" (Vulg. Marc. 5)

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.