Would “mane spiritum” / “mane anima” translate accurately to morning breath please?

I am very new to Latin.

I would be very grateful for any help moving forwards please as there are a number of short phrases I would like to translate.

2 Answers 2


In Naturalis historia 28.194, Pliny the Elder gives, as a remedy for bad breath and other lung-related issues, a decoction of butter and an equal amount of Attic honey or larch resin:

purulentas autem exulcerationes pectoris pulmonisque et a pulmone graveolentiam halituss butyrum efficacissime iuvat cum pari modo mellis Attici decoctum, donec rufescat, et matutinis sumptum ad mensuram lingulae; quidam pro melle laricis resinam addere maluere.

The relevant phrase is graveolentia hālitūs ā pulmōne, 'offensive smell of the breath from the lung'; this could be simplified to graveolentia hālitūs.

In Ars amatoria 1.521, Ovid advises would-be lovers to watch out for bad breath:

nec male odorati sit tristis anhelitus oris.

So 'bad breath' here is tristis anhēlitus male odōrātī ōris, 'the repulsive breath of a malodorous mouth.' Since the Oxford Latin dictionary indicates that anhēlitus by itself means 'malodorous breath,' you could simplify this to anhēlitus ōris or even just anhēlitus.

For 'morning,' you want an adjective that means 'of or belonging to the morning,' such as mātūtīnus. (Note that māne, which you've used, is an adverb or a noun, not an adjective.)

So 'morning breath' could be mātūtīna graveolentia hālitūs, 'morning-time offensive smell of the breath' or mātūtīnus anhēlitus (ōris), 'morning time malodorous breath (of the mouth).'

You could even 'transfer' the adjectives in each phrase, giving graveolentia mātūtīnī hālitūs and anhēlitus mātūtīnī ōris (in this case, though, the word ōris can't be omitted).

  • Ah fantastic, this is where I was struggling. The phrase is to be used on a coffee cup and is to be a play on words, very roughly along the lines of (coffee gives me) morning breath (life/wakes me up) (but without the actual written ref to coffee if this makes sense). So with these two answers would “matutinus spiritus” make sense please?
    – mae
    Aug 27, 2018 at 13:22
  • Or matutinus spiro?
    – mae
    Aug 27, 2018 at 13:26
  • @mae What a great idea for a coffee cup! I think matutinus spiritus would work (a combination of cnread's and luchonacho's answers). Although it doesn't convey the sense of bad breath, it does convey the other senses you're after: a breath, an animating spirit, a smell, and even inspiration.
    – Penelope
    Aug 28, 2018 at 4:21

The nominative of "breath" is spiritus. Spiritum is in the accusative case. So if we were to understand "morning breath" as "breath of the morning", then a more appropriate translation would be spiritus mane. Anima is also possible, as in anima mane.

Less figuratively words for breath are halitus and anhelitus. These two derive in Spanish words which mean breath (as in e.g. bad breath).

  • Ah, but now I’m wondering, why manis instead of mane? I apologise if this is all really basic and thank you ever so much for your help 😊
    – mae
    Aug 26, 2018 at 15:56
  • @mae I updated the answer. I got that wrong. mane is indeclinable, so regardless of the case (most of nouns in Latin are declinables; see here), morning is always mane. So, considering that morning breath is an example of two nouns together, where "morning" is a noun adjunct, and that these can usually be rewritten with a preposition (in this case, "of"), I'm trying to translate the phrase "breath of the morning". If that is not the meaning you intend, then this might not be good.
    – luchonacho
    Aug 26, 2018 at 16:57

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