When answering this question, it occurred to me that I don't know what to call a "boyfriend" or a "girlfriend" in Latin. What would be good words?

I assume that the same solution will work for both with obvious modifications, but I will be happy to be proven wrong as always. There might not be a perfect fit but several options for different uses. Therefore I request that if you suggest a translation or several, please also describe what good and bad aspects it has as a translation. That way anyone stumbling on this question can find the answer that fits their particular case best.

Notice that I'm not looking for a name to call a loved one (as in "veni huc, mel meum!"), but a word for the status. I'm looking for something that would work in "do you have a boyfriend?" and "here's my girlfriend" and similar. These refer to somewhat informal romantic relationships, so engagement and marriage should be kept out of the vocabulary here.

4 Answers 4


I discussed this with some colleagues this week, and here is a commented list of suggestions in rough order of personal preference:

  • amatus/amata: Quite literally "the loved one". One can love another person in a number of ways, so it's not clear that it would refer to boyfriend instead of an idol or some other important person. However, in proper context and combined with meus/mea this should be clear enough.

  • dilectus/dilecta: Essentially a synonym of the previous one.

  • amicus/amica: Quite literally "friend". It depends on context whether it's clear enough that it's more than just friendship. For some reason I have the impression that the Latin amicus/amica has more romantic connotations than the English "friend".

  • amiculus/amicula: In some contexts the diminutive might bring extra familiarity to the word. Again, there is a risk of misinterpretation, but I might find myself using this word especially in early stages of dating. This construction is quite similar to the French petit ami or petite amie.

  • amator/amatrix: This word makes it abundantly clear that it's not mere friendship, but I feel that it gives quite a lot of emphasis on the physical side of things. If the relationship is more romantic than sexual (or you want to portray it in such light), I would use another word.

  • puer/puella: Especially with meus/mea, this could be understood correctly. But it sounds a little belittling to me, and the word can also be used for slaves or servants. This is a valid alternative for purposes of variation, but I wouldn't introduce anyone as someone's puer/puella.


sponsus/sponsa are often translated just as "groom/bride" - and this meaning is reflected by the Italian sposo/sposa as well as the English "spouse"- but in fact, they were also used by the Romans to address a fiancé/fiancée. After all, sponsus,a,um is the past participle of spondeo, "to promise", and engagement was pretty serious business in Ancient Rome.

On the other hand, amicus/amica could be used to indicate a paramour.

The following passage from Seneca the Elder, Controversiae is insightful for both expressions:

Hunc sensum Vibius Rufus subtiliter dixit: volo tibi malam gratiam cum sponso tuo facere: habet amicam.

  • IIRC, in a book I no longer have access to, on Latin forms of address, domine /domina were also used to address a beloved, though possibly not to refer to them.
    – TheHonRose
    Commented May 4, 2019 at 0:13
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    @TheHonRose: Interesting! If you happen to stumble again on that book or something else confirming it, make sure to post an answer! Commented May 4, 2019 at 9:52
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    This is a link to the book on Google Books, might be searchable? books.google.co.uk/…
    – TheHonRose
    Commented May 4, 2019 at 10:30
  • ªTheHonRose: Weren´´t "Domine/ Domina" forms of address to high-ranking people? A slave would address his master as "Domine", the "Imperatrix", "Domina"--"Lady"?
    – tony
    Commented May 10, 2019 at 9:01

Orberg, in Familia Latina, uses amica in the sense of girlfriend or fiancee.


In my old Latin text book, the word for Lover was amans, amantis (M/F). Amicus, Amica usually mean just friend.

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