Definition 2022






  1. denomination (of a bank note)


Inflection of littera (Kotus type 12/kulkija, no gradation)
nominative littera litterat
genitive litteran litteroiden
partitive litteraa litteroita
illative litteraan litteroihin
singular plural
nominative littera litterat
accusative nom. littera litterat
gen. litteran
genitive litteran litteroiden
partitive litteraa litteroita
inessive litterassa litteroissa
elative litterasta litteroista
illative litteraan litteroihin
adessive litteralla litteroilla
ablative litteralta litteroilta
allative litteralle litteroille
essive litterana litteroina
translative litteraksi litteroiksi
instructive litteroin
abessive litteratta litteroitta
comitative litteroineen



  • IPA(key): /ˈlit.te.ra/


littera (plural litteras)

  1. a letter of the alphabet
  2. letter (epistle)


Alternative forms


From earlier lītera, with lengthening of the consonant, from Old Latin leitera, from Proto-Indo-European *leyt- (to scratch).[1] Alternatively, perhaps via Etruscan from Ancient Greek διφθέρᾱ (diphthérā, tablet), of unknown ultimate origin.



littera f (genitive litterae); first declension

  1. a letter of the alphabet
  2. handwriting
    Alexidis manum amabam, quod tam prope accedebat ad similitudinem tuae litterae.
  3. (usually in the plural) letter, epistle
    Litteras resignare.
    To unseal (or open) a letter.
  4. (usually in the plural) literature
    Abest historia litteris nostris.
    Is missing in our literature.
    Si versus horum duorum poetarum neglegetis, magna parte litterarum carebitis.
    If you neglect the verses of these two poets, you will miss a great part of literature.
  5. (usually in the plural) books
  6. (usually in the plural) records, accounts
  7. (usually in the plural) an edict, ordinance.
    Praetoris litterae.
    A praetor's edict.
    Litteras revocavit.
    A letter of appointment. (a commission)


First declension.

Case Singular Plural
nominative littera litterae
genitive litterae litterārum
dative litterae litterīs
accusative litteram litterās
ablative litterā litterīs
vocative littera litterae

Usage notes

  • litterae missae means "a letter sent by a person" and litterae allatae a "a letter received" hence, liber litterarum missarum et allatarum meant a letter-book.

Derived terms



  • littera in Charlton T. Lewis and Charles Short (1879) A Latin Dictionary, Oxford: Clarendon Press
  • littera in Charlton T. Lewis (1891) An Elementary Latin Dictionary, New York: Harper & Brothers
  • LITTERA in Charles du Fresne du Cange’s Glossarium Mediæ et Infimæ Latinitatis (augmented edition, 1883–1887)
  • Félix Gaffiot (1934), “littera”, in Dictionnaire Illustré Latin-Français, Paris: Hachette.
  • Meissner, Carl; Auden, Henry William (1894) Latin Phrase-Book, London: Macmillan and Co.
    • to live (all) one's life (honourably, in the country, as a man of learning): vitam, aetatem (omnem aetatem, omne aetatis tempus) agere (honeste, ruri, in litteris), degere, traducere
    • the study of belles-lettres; literary pursuits: litterarum studium or tractatio (not occupatio)
    • learned, scientific, literary men: homines litterarum studiosi
    • scholarship, culture, literature is at a low ebb: litterae iacent, neglectae iacent
    • to be engaged in the pursuit of letters: litteras colere
    • to be an enthusiastic devotee of letters: litteras amplecti
    • to be an enthusiastic devotee of letters: litteras adamasse (only in perf. and plup.)
    • to be engaged in literary pursuits: in studio litterarum versari
    • to be engaged in any branch of study: in aliquo litterarum genere versari
    • to be an ardent student of..: summo studio in litteris versari
    • to devote oneself entirely to literature: se totum litteris tradere, dedere
    • to be quite engrossed in literary studies: se totum in litteras or se litteris abdere
    • to apply oneself very closely to literary, scientific work: in litteris elaborare (De Sen. 8. 26)
    • to find recreation in study: in litteris acquiescere or conquiescere
    • to devote one's life to science, study: aetatem in litteris ducere, agere
    • to devote all one's leisure moments to study: omne (otiosum) tempus in litteris consumere
    • to employ all one's energies on literary work: omne studium in litteris collocare, ad litteras conferre
    • to feel an attraction for study: litterarum studio trahi
    • to feel an attraction for study: trahi, ferri ad litteras
    • to relax one's studies: litterarum studia remittere
    • to have a superficial knowledge, a smattering of literature, of the sciences: primis (ut dicitur) or primoribus labris gustare or attingere litteras
    • literature: litterae
    • written records; documents: litterae ac monumenta or simply monumenta
    • Roman literature: litterae latinae
    • shining lights in the literary world: clarissima litterarum lumina
    • to study Greek literature: graecis litteris studere
    • to be well (slightly) acquainted with Greek literature: multum (mediocriter) in graecis litteris versari
    • acquainted with the Latin language: latinis litteris or latine doctus
    • to possess literary knowledge: litterarum scientiam (only in sing.) habere
    • to be well-informed, erudite: multarum rerum cognitione imbutum esse (opp. litterarum or eruditionis expertem esse or [rerum] rudem esse)
    • to have received a liberal education: litteras scire
    • profound scientific education: litterae interiores et reconditae, artes reconditae
    • for a Roman he is decidedly well educated: sunt in illo, ut in homine Romano, multae litterae (De Sen. 4. 12)
    • to have received a superficial education: litteris leviter imbutum or tinctum esse
    • to be educated by some one: litteras discere ab aliquo
    • an elementary school: ludus (discendi or litterarum)
    • to receive the first elements of a liberal education: primis litterarum elementis imbui
    • to teach some one letters: erudire aliquem artibus, litteris (but erudire aliquem in iure civili, in re militari)
    • to write expositions of philosophy in Latin: philosophiam latinis litteris illustrare (Acad. 1. 1. 3)
    • to study historical records, read history: evolvere historias, litterarum (veterum annalium) monumenta
    • to hold by the letter (of the law): verba ac litteras or scriptum (legis) sequi (opp. sententia the spirit)
    • to lengthen the pronunciation of a syllable or letter: syllabam, litteram producere (opp. corripere) (Quintil. 9. 4. 89)
    • to pronounce the syllables distinctly: litteras exprimere (opp. obscurare)
    • to the letter; literally: ad litteram, litterate
    • the alphabet: litterarum ordo
    • the alphabet: litterae, elementa
    • to arrange in alphabetical order: ad litteram or litterarum ordine digerere
    • to put down in writing: litteris mandare or consignare aliquid (Acad. 2. 1. 2)
    • to treat in writing: litteris persequi (vid. sect. VIII. 2, note persequi...) aliquid
    • to write a letter to some one: epistulam (litteras) dare, scribere, mittere ad aliquem
    • correspondence: litterae missae et allatae
    • to correspond with some one: colloqui cum aliquo per litteras
    • to be in correspondence with..: litteras inter se dare et accipere
    • to take a letter somewhere: litteras perferre aliquo
    • to read a letter aloud (in public): litteras recitare (Att. 8. 9. 2)
    • a letter, the tenor of which is..: litterae hoc exemplo (Att. 9. 6. 3)
    • the terms, contents of the letter are as follows: litterae in hanc sententiam or his verbis scriptae sunt
    • to deliver a letter dated September 21st: litteras reddere datas a. d. Kal. X. Octob.
    • a most courteous letter: litterae officii or humanitatis plenae
  • littera in Ramminger, Johann (accessed 16 July 2016) Neulateinische Wortliste: Ein Wörterbuch des Lateinischen von Petrarca bis 1700, pre-publication website, 2005-2016


  1. Andrew L. Sihler (1995) New Comparative Grammar of Greek and Latin, New York, Oxford, Oxford University Press