There is a legal thing called arbitration in modern world, and the Romans seem to have had the word arbitratio. I wonder whether the modern arbitration and the Roman arbitratio (and the related words like arbiter) are similar in any meaningful way.

If I understand correctly, modern arbitration is all about using a third party which is not a court to solve disputes. Does arbitratio, arbiter, or other related words have this flavour at all? Or should I just think that one of the many legal Latin words was selected to name this modern legal arrangement?

This question was inspired by the recently announced change to terms of service on this network (including Latin Language Stack Exchange). The changes introduce arbitration, and that has caused quite a lot of unrest.

1 Answer 1


I think they are quite identical. Lewis & Short has for arbiter (http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.04.0059%3Aalphabetic+letter%3DA%3Aentry+group%3D68%3Aentry%3Darbiter):

"II. Esp. A. In judic. lang., t. t., prop., he that is appointed to inquire into a cause (cf. adire hiberna, Tac. H. 1, 52, and intervenio) and settle it; hence, an umpire, arbiter, a judge, in an actio bonae fidei (i. e. who decides acc. to equity, while the judex decides acc. to laws)."

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