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Latin Loan Words in German
Lateinische Lehnwörter

German Words from Latin

DEUTSCH - LATEIN: A Glossary of Latin-Based Words in German and English

Also see French Loan Words in German.

Here are some common and not-so-common German vocabulary terms that come either directly (directus - direkt) from Latin or are derived from Latin. Not all such borrowings are obvious. German Uhr (clock, hour) comes from Latin hora (hour) via French. (Which helps explain why the German abbreviation for "Uhr" is "h.") German Tinte (ink) comes from Middle Latin "tincta" (aqua), which meant colored fluid or tincture.

At one time (in classical Latin) the "c" in Latin words was pronounced like a "k." Later (in the 6th or 7th century) the "c" sound changed to an "s" or "z" sound. That helps to explain both when certain words were taken over by German, as well as why some German k-words (Kaiser) that came from Latin c-words (Caesar) have the k-pronunciation rather than a soft "c" sound.

The following glossary is only a small sampling of German vocabulary based on Latin. In the "English" column below, words with the abbreviation l. designate the English meaning of the Latin root word when that is not obvious, as in: (l., cistern) for cista. For more about the influences of Latin on German see our introductory article: Latin in German.

Germanic Words Borrowed from Latin
actio aktiv active
advocatus der Advokat attorney
Aprilis (mensis) April April
(see below)
For other mensis (month) terms see Months: Latin-Deutsch-English and Lektion 12: German for Beginners - about the calendar and appointments.
aula die Aula assembly hall
(at university;
l., forecourt)
brevis das Brevier
der Brief
guide, summary
(l., short, brief)
Caesar der Kaiser emperor
Other terms from the Roman name Caesar: kaiserlich (imperial), der Kaiserschnitt (Caesarean section), die Kaiserstadt (imperial city).
caseus der Käse cheese
camera die Kammer/Kamera chamber/camera
ceresia (Vulgate)
die Kirsche cherry
cista die Kiste case, box
(l., cistern)
crucem das Kreuz cross
directum direkt direct(ly)
disciplina die Disziplin discipline
examino das Examen exam, test
(l., to consider, weigh)
gradus der Grad degree, level
grammaticus die Grammatik grammar
For more about the influences of Latin on German grammar see the article Latin in German.
(This form of gratia
is also the source
of the English term.)
gratis gratis, free
hora die Uhr clock, o'clock
(l., hour)
mensa die Mensa student cafeteria
(l., table)
murus die Mauer wall (made of stone,
brick or concrete)
(post horse
on minor runs)
Middle Latin
das Pferd horse
plantare pflanzen to plant
(l., first, primary)
der Primaner student in the
first (Aus.) or
last year (Ger.)
in a Gymnasium
(see below)
Primaner belongs to a group of Latin-based German school vocabulary referring to the level of a student. Considered old-fashioned today, the terms are still found in German literature and are sometimes used humorously. A Primaner/in was a student in the top or senior class. The upper levels were further divided into upper (Oberprimaner) and lower (Unterprimaner) sublevels. The level below that (in Germany) was the Sekunda and the student a Sekundaner/in. The other levels in descending order: Tertia (3rd from top), Quarta (4th from top), Quinta (5th from top), Sexta (6th from top, 1st level). In Austria the order is reversed, with the Prima being the first year in a Gymnasium and so on.
publicum das Publikum audience
(l., of the public)
quadra das Quadrat
square meters
radix der Rettich radish
respublica die Republik republic
(l., holy)
Sankt saint
(in names)
stativus das Stativ tripod
(l., still, fixed)
stipendium das Stipendium scholarship, stipend
(l., tax, contribution)
studere studieren to study
(at university)
terror der Terror
der Terrorismus
tincta aqua die Tinte ink
(l., colored fluid)
universitas die Universität university
(l., the whole, universe)
vinum der Wein wine
Days: Latin-Deutsch-English
Months: Latin-Deutsch-English
Cities: Latin-Deutsch-English
We've got more
English-German Glossaries

NEXT > Latin Days1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

MORE > French Loan Words in German

Related Pages

Latin in German
A related article on taking advantage of Latin-based vocabulary in German and English.

Lektion 12: German for Beginners
Lesson 12 of our free online German course is about the calendar and appointments.

Date and Time Glossary
An annotated English-German glossary of calendar and clock terms.

Days: Latin-Deutsch-English
An annotated glossary comparing day names in the three languages.

Months: Latin-Deutsch-English
An annotated glossary comparing the names of the months in the three languages.

Cities: Latein-Deutsch-Englisch
An annotated glossary comparing city and town names in the three languages.

French Loan Words in German
German has also borrowed many words from French, which is based on Latin.

German for Beginners - Contents
Our free online German course.

English-German Glossaries
All of the annotated glossaries on this site - from aerospace to travel.

German Grammar
All of the grammar resources on this site.

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