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I'm a student and my class laughs when we learn a new verb for "to kill". Just to list some of them:

  • necare
  • interficere
  • extinguere

There are of course many others.

What are the key differences between these and other significant Latin words that are frequently translated "to kill"?

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    Welcome to the site! This is an interesting question. Here are some words to add to your list: caedere, occidere, trucidare, iugulare, concidere, effligere, mactare, letare. (These are not all equivalent, though.) – Joonas Ilmavirta Apr 19 '16 at 16:32
  • Hi Distjubo! Since I hadn't seen you make any edits to your question, and because it's a good one that we'd like to answer, I've gone ahead and edited it to ask for an overview of the key differences between these words. Such a question works better here, but if you'd like to know something more specific about some of these words, or a particular context, please let us know! – Nathaniel is protesting Apr 21 '16 at 13:01
  • Thanks a lot @Nathaniel. I don't really have much time atm, especially not for latin. So thank you for helping me with this, greatly appreciated – Distjubo Apr 21 '16 at 13:03
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+50

The thesauri and dictionaries offer marvelous help with some of these.

Adapted from Döderlein's Hand-book of Latin Synonymes:

  1. Interficere and perimere are the most general expressions for putting to death, in whatever manner, and from whatever motive, but interficere as a usual, perimere as an old, forcible, poetical expression.
  2. Interimere involves the accessory notion of privacy, as to remove out of the way; [Cic. Tusc. v. 20. Dionysius alterum jussit interfici, quia viam demonstravisset interimendi sui.]
  3. necare, that of injustice, or, at least, cruelty, to murder. [Curt. ix. 7, 8. Boxum protinus placuit interfici; Biconem etiam per cruciatus necari.]
  4. Occidere, jugulare, trucidare, obtruncare, percutere, denote a sanguinary death-blow; occidere means by cutting down, especially the business of the soldier in honorable open battle;
  5. jugulare, by cutting the throat or neck, or rather by a skilfully-directed thrust into the collar-bone, especially the business of the bandit, after the pattern of the gladiator;
  6. obtruncare means to butcher, massacre, and cut to pieces, after the manner of the awkward murderer; [Sallust. Fr. Cæteri vice pecorum obtruncantur; so that you may see a mangled mass of limbs, as in the heap of slain in a battle.]
  7. trucidare, to slaughter as one would a steer, after the manner of the blood-thirsty miscreant, who, without meeting with resistance, plays the hero on the defenceless; [Tac. Hist. Juberet interfici; offerre se corpora iræ; trucidaret.]
  8. percutere, to execute, as a mere mechanical act, after the manner of the headsman, or other executioner of a sentence of condemnation, or, at least, of a death-warrant. [Cic. Cat. iv. 6. and Rosc. Am. 34. Cujus consilio occisus sit invenio; cujus manu percussus sit non invenio.]

And adapted from Smith's Copious and Critical English-Latin Dictionary:

kill:

  1. interficio (most general term).
  2. cædo (to cut or beat, whether to death or not; to kill by wounds or blows). To slay.
  3. neco (by wicked and cruel means; as, assassination, poison). To murder.
  4. occido (to cut down, esp. in battle). To slay.
  5. trucido (to kill violently and ruthlessly). To butcher.
  6. interimo (to do away with, cut off). To destroy.
  7. obtrunco (to cut down, esp. in the way of murder or assassination). To slaughter.

I must say, as a spoken-Latin advocate, that, while Latin can be frustrating when you want to talk about things like a malfunctioning ATM or the difficulty one has signing up for a user account, when you're as angry a person as I am it's quite useful to have so many words with which to imagine people's violent ends.

| improve this answer | |
  • I formatted your citations to be a little more readable--it's a great list! – brianpck Apr 21 '16 at 14:09
  • Ah, thanks for the formatting—that makes it a lot more helpful. – Joel Derfner Apr 21 '16 at 14:11
  • Really nice. I mean our latin teacher only taught us "to kill" for all of those words. Really helpful. – Distjubo Apr 21 '16 at 14:36
  • Oh, I'm glad! Why don't you wait a few days to see whether somebody else comes up with an even better answer and then accept the one you find the most helpful? – Joel Derfner Apr 21 '16 at 14:47
  • Looks like theres no one who wants to compete with this answer :D – Distjubo Apr 23 '16 at 11:44

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