Tuesday, June 12, 2012


One of my students asked me yesterday if the Romans had a word for fun. I didn't know. I still don't. The concept of fun is a... well, a funny one I suppose. Easy to recognise, but hard to define. Romans played and laughed and enjoyed themselves just like humans throughout history, I assume, but did they have a specific word for fun? I suspect that someone like Cicero would have been a bit scornful of the notion of fun (virtue is much more important), while for an Epicurean such as Lucretius pleasure had a much more nuanced meaning than simply fun. No doubt Catullus or Ovid appreciated the concept, but what words did they use to express it? How would you say 'This is fun!' or 'I am having fun!' in Latin?

Here is a list of some fun related words (thanks to William Whitakers Words), none of which I'm sure suit the meaning of the English perfectly:

delicia, deliciae: pleasure/delight/fun (usu. pl.), activity affording enjoyment, luxuries; toys;

ludus, ludi: game, play, sport, pastime, entertainment, fun; school, elementary school;

delicius, delicii: pleasure/delight/fun, activity affording enjoyment; curiosities of art;

ludibundus, ludibunda, ludibundum: having fun; carefree;

derideo, deridere, derisi, derisus: to mock/deride/laugh at/make fun of; be able to laugh, escape, get off scot free;

irrideo, irridere, irrisi, irrisus: to ridicule, mock, make fun of; laugh at;
Any thoughts?

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