Nowadays in Spanish the verb used for "to speak" or "to talk" is hablar, which comes directly from Latin fābŭlor, meaning:

1 to talk familiarly, to chat, to converse
2 to invent a story, to make up a fable

In fact this verb also derived into today's fábula (English: 'fable'). Nonetheless, I have seen some other options in an old Spanish-Latin dictionary from 1495 when I looked up hablar:

collŏquor: "to talk, to speak to or to speak with", "to talk together or to talk over", "to converse"
allŏquor: "to speak to", "to address, to harangue, to make a speech (to)"
ēlŏquor: "to speak out, utter"

And in another Spanish dictionary from 1734 the verb hablar is translated into Latin as:

for: "to speak, to talk", "to say"
sermōcĭnor: "to discuss, to argue with wit, to treat scholarly", "to talk"
lŏquor: "to speak", "to tell", "to mention", "to say, to utter", "to phrase"

I would say that the verb I am looking for is indeed fābŭlor as it is the verb that derived into today's most used (and generic) verb in Spanish meaning "to speak" or "to talk", and it seems it was used for casual chats with family and friends, but as there are other options, I would like to ask:

  • What was the most basic, generic and commonly used word that meant "to speak" or "to talk" in the Latin language?
  • What were the differences between the mentioned options? Are there any other ones?

1 Answer 1


Dico is by far the most frequent semantically related verb, but it means to say (and in some contexts could be read as to speak in specific senses, but not to talk).

Among the ones meaning talk and/or speak, the verb loquor is way more frequent than its nearest contender as per the available corpora (a sample search for loquor gives 11k results, colloquor and fabulor about 100, fabulo redirects to fabulor, which means that it's probably the less common alternative).

Eloquor is less frequent (~ 1700 hits) than loquor, yet more than the others, but it has a number of more specific meanings: to speak out, speak plainly, to utter; to pronounce, declare, state, express.

Regarding for, my response is necessarily less informed, since I'm not very familiar with it.

  • L&S says it is mostly poetic, and does not mention to talk among its meanings.
  • The respective search gives a maximum frequency about 2.5 as high as that of loquor, but a minimum 1/10th as high. The problem is that being such a short and irregular verb, a bunch of other words get mixed up in the results (e.g. fas, fere).
  • My gut feeling is that it is mainly (if not only) Classical, and got lost with the centuries.

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