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Latin vocabulary revision: the one with the kings, rulers and straight orders

Updated: Nov 25, 2023

A short guide to translating and interpreting rego, regno, regnum, rex and regina

The root *REG- and its original meaning

According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, it is a 'Proto-Indo-European root meaning "move in a straight line," with derivatives meaning "to direct in a straight line," thus "to lead, rule.'

It is easy to miss the relationship and differences between words containing *reg- and their derivatives. For a start, let us take a look at the usual suspects:

If this video has made it clear, you can now test your knowledge with this Latin vocab quiz:

(you might need to switch to a bigger screen for this)

If you are moving beyond beginners' Latin and into more literary, nuanced translations, you will find the definitions from the Charlton T. Lewis Elementary Dictionary - fully available in Perseus, most useful:

regō, rēxī, rēctus, ere

from *reg-: to keep straight, lead aright, guide, conduct, direct, control, to guide, lead, conduct, manage, direct, govern, sway, rule, govern, be master of, restore, set right, correct.

rēgnō āvī, ātus, āre

from regnum: to have royal power, be king, reign, to be lord, rule, govern, be supreme, tyrannise, have the mastery, prevail, predominate

rēgnum ī:

from *reg-: kingly government, royal authority, kingship, royalty, dominion, sovereignty, rule, authority, supreme power, despotism, tyranny, personal sovereignty, arbitrary rule, a kingdom, a state governed by a king; rule, authority, power, influence; A territory, estate, possession

Two fish on a Roman mosaic
pisces regnum maris habent

Four slides showing the differences between rego, regno, rex and regnum
Always learn all principal parts so that you can tell which part of speech it is.

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