Consider a person who is not a medical professional but spends a substantial amount of time taking care of someone close to them suffering from a medical condition such as Alzheimer's disease or cancer. In Finnish we have the specific term "omaishoitaja" for this purpose. I am not aware of anything closer than "caregiver" in English.

How could one describe such a person in Latin? It does not have to explain the situation unambiguously, but it should be a suitable word when referring to such a person. The best words I can think of are curator and custos. I added further thoughts as an answer, and I would be happy to see more ideas if there are any.

(To make this searchable, let me repeat the main question in Finnish: Miten sanotaan "omaishoitaja" latinaksi?)

2 Answers 2


In the UK, there is just one word for what you describe, and it's 'carer'. It is used indiscriminately for anyone looking after someone in difficulty, whether physical, mental or sometimes even financial. I have seldom, if ever, seen 'caregiver' actually used, either in this sort of context or any other.

There doesn't seem to be a real alternative to curator. We might speak of 'nursing back to health', but that isn't much different in meaning (and you certainly wouldn't use nutrix, etc. to mean 'nurse' other than when speaking of a suckling infant). I realize that curator by the Romans was more usually reserved for public affairs and so on, but I suspect that we don't see it much in the sense that you need, simply because there are few surviving documents dealing with the lower orders from which different examples might have been culled during the compiling of dictionaries.

You could get round it by a phrase like donor sollicitudinis. More flowery alternatives might include diligenter auxilium alicui (pro)videt. In the end, though, if you want one word, plain and simple, it surely has to be curator.


I think curator or custos is a good starting point, but insufficient as such. It is better to add an adjective or some other description. My suggestion is to mention the person take care of explicitly, as in curator matris suae. This should communicate the intent well enough.

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