Is there an established Latin word for "visa", the kind of document you need to enter some countries? The English word seems to come from the past participle of the Latin verb videre, and so does the Finnish version "viisumi". However, using such a common Latin participle as such would be confusing when you want to tell that you showed your visa to an officer…

Is there a good Latin expression for "visa"? If yes, what makes it appropriate?

1 Answer 1


Since it is simply the endorsement of a passport perhaps commeatus

Plautus has 'the permission to enter a restricted area' as commeatūs diploma. Unfortunately Ainsworth does not locate the quotation; but offers an alternative: syngrapha.

However, Lewis & Short translates syngrapha as an iou, but the following entry is better:

syngrăphus (sungr-), i, m., = σύγγραφος.

I A written contract, Plaut. As. 4, 1, 1; 4, 1, 57.—

II A passport, pass, Plaut. Capt. 2, 3, 90; 3, 2, 6.

Is syngrăphus, useful? or if that is not clear commeatūs syngrăphus?

Additional note: Etymonline says "visa" is, partly, the modern Latin for 'visa:'

from French visa, from Modern Latin charta visa "verified paper," literally "paper that has been seen,"

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