In English or Finnish I can say that I was touched by something or an experience was touching, meaning that I was touched emotionally, not physically. How can I express the same in Latin? Does tangere work this way, or should I use some other verb or perhaps other kind of word?

5 Answers 5


Certainly you may use tangere, though in this situation it and other verbs (moveo, commoveo, afficio, pelli and so on) usually have some sort of qualification:

amore puellae pelli ; amore fraterni commotus erat; etc.

This type of usage is actually quite common. And (of course!) it applies to emotions other than love:

pudore affixus est.

I have made up the examples. I hope that's sufficient explanation, without the need to quote actual instances?

  • 2
    +1, especially for commotus. Vehementer commotus would be a great way of saying, "I was very touched."
    – brianpck
    Commented May 21, 2018 at 17:27
  • First, could you explain the intended meaning of amore puellae pelli and give a classical citation or two confirming this usage? I only find the verb in collocations with animum/mentem and anything but tender emotions. And second, the PPP of afficere is affectus, yours means "arrested, nailed by shame, as in to the spot" :-) Commented Jun 11, 2019 at 17:56
  • As I said, the examples are made up. Pelli is the passive infinitive of pello and affixus is not from _afficio, but from affigo. Sorry about the slight confusion!
    – Tom Cotton
    Commented Jun 13, 2019 at 13:40

I offer a quote from the Laudato Si encyclical, an official document of the Vatican (the country where Latin is, well, the official language). In English, it says:

With moving tenderness he [Jesus] would remind them [his disciples] that each one of them is important in God’s eyes

The Latin version says:

atque ipsis moventi blandimento memorabat quomodo suos ob oculos unaquaeque earum magnum habeat pondus

Thus, moventi, from the adjective movens, seems to be the word you are looking for. Wiktionary translate it exactly as "moving".

  • 1
    Motus in all its meanings (noun, adjective, participle) also comes to mind as idiomatic
    – Rafael
    Commented May 21, 2018 at 17:27

For something like this, I would use the verb moveō, or one of its derivatives. This can either take the emotion/result as its direct object (movet lacrimās "it moved [me] to tears"), or a metonymy like animum; when a person is the object, the verb is more often in the passive (movetur verbīs "he was moved by these words").

Moveō itself certainly works, but commoveō can be used for added intensity, and permoveō was seldom used for anything except this meaning (i.e. it almost never meant literal motion).


The figurative use of tango "to touch, move, affect, impress" is very common in Latin. You can find lots of examples in L/S, s.v. "tango II A", or in any other Latin dictionary.


For fiercely tragic emotions:

plango, plangere, planxi, planctum. means both strike, hit; and bewail, cry, lament.
(Cicero and Virgil)

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.