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Did you know that Lewis and Short's dictionary doesn't contain the word "gullible"? That is an appropriate question for the first of April, but it turns out that I indeed found no trace of that word. Perhaps I'm missing English synonyms for someone who is naive and easily fooled. What would be a good classical Latin word, noun or adjective, for this kind of a person?

16

Perhaps credulus?

credula nec ravos timeant armenta leones

gullible cattle no longer fear tawny lions

Horace, Epodes, 16.33

Credula si fueris, aliae tua gaudia carpent

If you are gullible, other women will seize your joys

Ovid, Ars Amatoria, 3.661

Haec enim etiam in fabulis stultissima persona est improvidorum et credulorum senum.

For even on the stage the silliest characters are improvident and gullible old men.

Cicero, De Amicitia, 26.100

  • Looks perfect! I get the feeling that the diminutive adds a nuance of mockery, which I find appropriate. – Joonas Ilmavirta Apr 1 '18 at 9:30
  • @JoonasIlmavirta Yes, I overlooked that but I think you're right! – Penelope Apr 1 '18 at 9:33
  • You even find it in English, albeit usually in the negated form (incredulous). – JAB Apr 2 '18 at 0:09
  • @JoonasIlmavirta: Which diminutive? – DaG Apr 2 '18 at 12:47
  • @DaG The -ulus in credulus. It could have been simply credere > credus (like fidere > fidus), but instead it's credulus. – Joonas Ilmavirta Apr 2 '18 at 13:04
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The English verb 'gull' means 'deceive', and 'gullible' is derived from it. Penelope's credulus is excellent (and, indeed, is the word that I would choose), but I should like to point out decipiendus as an apt alternative.

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