If I wanted to describe something as "mechanical", as opposed to electronic or human-run, how would I do this in Classical Latin?

As the Romans had no electronics, the main distinction I'm interested in is "not human-run": for example copying a text mechanically might involve a printing press, as opposed to a scribe.

3 Answers 3


I suggest the adjectives machinalis and mechanicus, both of which are classically attested. The latter one has more emphasis on the mechanical nature, while the former can be used for machines in general. Either sounds reasonable for the use you propose.


I suggest automatus -a -um


A machine that runs without human intervention is an automaton.


This depends upon the context of how you use "mechanical" as the descriptor. Would you be using it in the literal sense to actual machinery? Or, to something that is machine-like? If the prior, I would suggest a form of "apparare". If the latter, automatos with a different suffix application.

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