When discussing things "running in the blood", I suggested the word ingenitus for "innate", while Tom Cotton preferred innatus.

Is there a difference in meaning between these two words? The second one is clearly the origin of English "innate", via French.

EDIT: I'm specifically referring to the versions of these words meaning "innate" (prefixed with in- "in"), not the versions meaning "not having been born" (prefixed with in- "not").

  • I was remarking that it is sometimes necessary to transform the idiom into something else with the same effect and meaning. I would not, personally, refer to blood at all in this instance.
    – Tom Cotton
    Sep 5, 2018 at 21:37
  • @TomCotton Agreed wholeheartedly! My mind had immediately gone to ingignō while you went with innascor, so now I'm curious if there's a difference between them, given that they both refer to something inherent from birth.
    – Draconis
    Sep 5, 2018 at 21:40

2 Answers 2


Literally innatus is 'in-born' and ingenitus is 'begotten.'

In favour of ingenitus is the idea of a bloodline, a family continuity.

'claro sanguine genitus' Seneca Tragedies

source Dictionarium novum Latino-Gallicum, etc By Gui TACHARD (free e-book)also Ainsworth (Archive facsimile)

But the bigger problem in answering this question is scientific. When Harvey argued the case for the circulation of the blood round the heart/ lungs/ limbs, rather than and push and pull within the body 'flow' took on a new meaning. In classical Latin the flow of blood is copious (Caesar, Livy) but it is always out of the gashes and wounds of battle and treachery, and over the face, onto bodies, the earth.


As far as I can see, both ingenitus and innatus are found only in Christian authors, when debating things like whether the Holy Ghost is born or unborn. I am not able to perceive any difference in meaning, but perhaps there is some theological distinction that escapes me. Both are transparent derivatives of genitus (ppp. of gigno) and (g)natus (ppp. of nascor) respectively, themselves from the same root, IE full-grade *ǵen(H)- and zero-grade *ǵn(H)-, though they are of course separate words in Latin.

  • 2
    Sorry, I should clarify, I mean the versions with in- "in" as opposed to in- "not": the participles from ingignō and innascor. For example, L&S cites Suetonius Nero 1 talking about vitia ingenita, "inherent flaws".
    – Draconis
    Sep 5, 2018 at 19:19
  • May I just point out that ingenuus is more akin to innatus than ingenitus? And that all three occur in properly Classical authors (Cicero, Pliny, Lucretius . . . passim)?
    – Tom Cotton
    Sep 5, 2018 at 21:32
  • @Draconis. Apologies. I completely misunderstood your question.
    – fdb
    Sep 5, 2018 at 22:02
  • "Ingenitus" (unbegotten) is the "proper attribute" of the Father--at least since Augustine's De Trinitate. I'm not aware of any serious discussion about whether the Holy Spirit is "born/unborn," though there certainly was concern about how the processions of the Son and Holy Spirit differed.
    – brianpck
    Sep 12, 2018 at 14:44
  • @brianpck. Geoges cites : Paul. Nol. carm. 1, 227 (Auct. class. ed. Mai 5, 379): Macedoniani spiritus sanctus, quem neque genitum neque ingenitum credimus.
    – fdb
    Sep 12, 2018 at 14:53

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