I'm looking for a way to describe striped cloth — that is, with regular stripes all over, or like the stripes on the flag of the USA.

I'm well aware of the stripe on a toga, angusticlavus, etc. But is it appropriate to use clavus in the general sense, or is there a better word? I have considered striatum, but am not sure that I'm exactly on the right track. Or am I missing something obvious?

  • "Varium nunc transgrediamur virum . et postea Marcus in trianguli primo angulo ..."
    – Hugh
    Apr 14, 2019 at 16:28
  • Yes; I'll probably have to settle for varius, or something similar, though it seems to mean any sort of variation, not just 'striped'. I put forward striatus, meaning 'fluted' as on architectural columns, but this also doesn't really convey the meaning, either. Maybe I'll just have to rely on context.
    – Tom Cotton
    Apr 14, 2019 at 16:37

6 Answers 6


My dictionary offers four options for "striped":

  • Virgatus "striped" (is used for striped clothing, at least in poetry and post-classically)

  • Virgulatus "striped" (seems to be very similar to virgatus but less frequent)

Both of these are from virga "twig", which is also used to mean "stripe" in clothing (II C).

  • Ostreatus (striped or ridged like an oyster shell: doesn't seem to be used to describe a pattern in clothing)

  • Striatus (more like furrowed, from stria "furrow": doesn't seem to be used for clothing)

  • 1
    Isn't -ul- some kind of diminutive suffix? "virgulatus" would then mean having narrow stripes, or maybe pinstripes Apr 15, 2019 at 10:38
  • @Wilson: It is true that -ul- is a diminutive suffix, but, like diminutive suffixes in other languages, I believe it can also be used non-diminutively. I don't know why or when. The OLD has this: i.imgur.com/WbFyDg8.png (-ulus forms (1) diminutives; (2) adjectives denoting repeated action; (3) instruments). So I'm not sure about that attractive hypothesis of yours...could be!
    – Cerberus
    Apr 15, 2019 at 13:48

From biological Latin, I would suggest striātus, -a, -um. While it literally means "fluted" or "furrowed", it's is the word I've most often seen for "striped" in scientific names: for example, the "striped pondweed" is Stuckenia striata, the "striped bladderwort" is Utricularia striata, and the "striped snakehead" (a type of fish) is Channa striata.


The most common words I have found for striped are virgatus, varius, and striatus, used for all sorts of stripes including those on clothing. But this is only what others have already posted.

My small contribution, then, is to address your question specifically about clavus, or rather clavatus. I have found one reference in which this is used unambiguously for stripes on material yet which does not seem to be linked to the purple stripes of consuls etc.

uxorem gemmis uti non est passus. auro clavatis vestibus idem interdixit.

He did not permit his wife to use jewels and also forbade her to wear garments with gold stripes.

Historia Augusta, Tacitus, 11

  • 2
    If striped is intended to mean "with a stripe along the rim of the garment", I think clavatus would work! It is from claudo "to close (off)", so I believe it generally denotes one (big) stripe along the edge.
    – Cerberus
    Apr 15, 2019 at 13:54
  • Then again, the final sense of the noun clavus gives this (L&S): "2. Poet., a tunic, in gen., either wide or narrow striped: "mutare in horas", Hor. S. 2, 7, 10: "sumere depositum", id. ib. 1, 6, 25."
    – Cerberus
    Apr 15, 2019 at 13:57

On top of others already suggested (particularly virgatus), the 2016 OLD also suggests maculosus:

(of animals, etc) Variegated, spotted, or striped.

(etc not including minerals, listed later).

It also suggests polygrammos:

(of a kind of jasper) Many-striped.

But this might be too specific. Pliny the Elder states:

The variety of this stone [jasper] which resembles smaragdus in colour is often found with a white line running transversely through the middle; in which case it is known as "monogrammos:" when it is streaked with several lines, it is called "polygrammos."

  • The former comes from macula, "stain/streak", so I don't think I'd apply it to intentionally-dyed clothes. A gramma can be a line of writing, so that could make sense, but it does seem a bit too specific.
    – Draconis
    Apr 15, 2019 at 15:44

The sentence to be translated is from the description of the driver of a stagecoach in 'Old Christmas' by Washington Irving (pub. 1875). It begins His waistcoat is commonly of some bright colour, striped, and I have finally decided on something not yet put forward, but which I think fits the case fairly well:

Subuculam variis fere coloribus claris delineatam gerit.

I am grateful for the interest in this question, and indeed for so many sensible and interesting suggestions, which I apologise for ultimately disregarding.


In the Corpus Christi Alea Evangelii there is a playing piece which is coloured differently. This is sometimes translated 'speckled,' sometimes 'striped.' "Now we pass the variegated man..."

"Varium nunc transgrediamur virum . et postea Marcus in trianguli primo angulo ..."

In the same description of a board game the ranks and files are called 'trames.' A word borrowed from weaving. Transmeo is the verb.

.X. et .VIII. tramites in longitudine 18 ranks in length.
singuli per singulos tramites, one by one across the separate ranks.

toga alba, nigrore transmente a white toga woven across with black.

I had misremembered 'trames;' I thought it meant a furrow. And perhaps that would be a better metaphor:

toga candida et nigra sulcatim. A toga, furrowed black and white.

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