The Latin Wikipedia article about spelt mentions two ancient Latin names for spelt: spelta and scandala. I have found spelta used in more recent Latin, but nothing ancient. I have never seen scandala — apart from being the plural of scandalum. I presume there is nothing scandalous about spelt, so these words should be unrelated. My dictionaries recognize neither spelta nor scandala.

Which words were used for spelt in antiquity? In other words, is Vicipaedia correct? If you can give a word, please indicate if it was reconstructed or actually attested. For attested words I would like to see use examples.

Spelt is old enough to have an ancient name, but this is no proof that such a name must exist. It may be that it was not given a separate name if it was considered merely a type of wheat.

1 Answer 1


I find Vicipædia fairly untrustworthy as a rule. Scandala does not occur in Lewis & Short; perhaps the author(s) of the Vicipædia article are thinking of secāle, which is used in Pliny of black spelt (though I don't know what the difference is between spelt and black spelt, and some apparently think secāle refers to rye).

Spelta is part of the Linnaean name for spelt, Triticum spelta. According to Lewis & Short, spelta is used in Rhemnius Fanninus and Hieronymus, two fifth-century-A.D. authors, to mean "spelt."

However, Lewis & Short also offer several other options:

ador, oris and ōris, n. cf. 1. edo, ἔδομαι, Engl. to eat, Goth. ita, Sanscr. admi; and Ang.-Sax. ata = Engl. oat, and Sanscr. annam (for adnam) = food, corn, a kind of grain, spelt, Triticum spelta, Linn. (acc. to Paul. ex Fest.: Ador farris genus, edor quondam appellatum ab edendo, vel quod aduratur, ut fiat tostum, unde in sacrificio mola salsa officitur, p. 3 Mull.: Ador frumenti genus, quod epulis et immolationibus sacris pium putatur, unde et adorare, propitiare religiones, potest dictum videri, Non. 52, 20): cum pater ipse domus palea porrectus in horna Esset ador loliumque, Hor. S. 2, 6, 89: adoris de polline, Aus. Mon. de Cibis, p. 238; Gannius ap. Prisc. p. 700: satos adoris stravisse, id. ib.: ardor adōris, id. ib. (Ador is often indeclinable, acc. to Prisc. p. 785, 100 P.)


far farris, n. 1 FER-, a sort of grain, spelt (roasted and ground), L.

—Corn, grain: flava farra, V.

—Coarse meal, grits: olus ac far, H.: Mollivit Penates Farre pio, sacrificial meal, H., V., Tb.: torrida cum micā farra, O.

—Bread: non sine farre, H.: una Farris libra, H.: caninum, coarse bread for dogs, Iu.

being the most well supported. (Alica, mola, sēmen, and zēa also have "spelt" as possible definitions in L&S, but they seem to have come to refer to spelt, if in fact they do, more by metonymy than by actual definition. Not that that makes it any less a word for spelt, but the citations don't seem particularly convincing or numerous.)

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    Regarding "farris," in modern Italian, "farro grande" is spelt.
    – eipi10
    Commented May 1, 2016 at 15:42
  • Hunh—I thought it was just farro. Shows you what I know! (Though of course farina is "flour*, so I wonder whether etymologically at some point they were just like, oh, let's just call all grains "far-something" and be done with it. Commented May 1, 2016 at 15:47
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    It usually is just called farro in the U.S., but "farro" can be any one of three related grains: einkorn, emmer, or spelt, which are, respectively, known as farro piccolo, medio, and grande, in Italian (though I don't know if Italians typically make the distinction either).
    – eipi10
    Commented May 1, 2016 at 15:54
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    I think far is the best: 'farris seges' occurs in Livy, so it's not just 'corn' Commented May 1, 2016 at 20:33
  • Actually, bizarrely, in the version I'm looking at, Lewis Elementary has fār, but Lewis & Short has far. (I go back and forth between both, hence my mixed transcription.) I've removed it so that at least the answer is using one dictionary instead of two, but more than that I don't know. Commented May 2, 2016 at 0:40

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