Learn Latin Vocabulary

Learning and remembering Latin vocabulary can be difficult. When it comes to Latin, a foundation in grammar is essential, but it can be an overwhelming amount of information to remember. Locking down your Latin vocabulary is possible with plenty of practice.


Learning Through Reading Memorization

  1. Write down Latin words alongside their English meanings. Take a blank piece of paper and draw a line down the middle. On one side of the line, write down the vocabulary word. On the other side of the line, write the English meaning. Go though your list of words one by one, familiarizing yourself with each word and its meaning.
  2. Memorize the words and their meanings. Cover the English meaning and practice saying what the Latin form of the word is English. When you're comfortable stating the English definitions, switch things up and cover the words in the Latin column so you an state the Latin terms for the English definitions.[1]
    • Repeat the exercise until you can confidently give English definitions for Latin terms, and Latin terms for English definitions.
    • Scramble up the list of words and continue to alternate with covering up each word and its meaning. This will help you focus more on memorizing the word and less on memorizing the order of your vocabulary words.
  3. Test yourself. Repeat each word without looking at its meaning. If you get the answers incorrect, go back and look at the word and its meaning again without covering anything. Read the word without looking at the answer again and repeat it multiple times until you got it down.
  4. Use techniques to aid in memorization. Keep a notebook in which you write down the vocabulary words and English meanings. Writing down each word can help you remember what the words look like.
    • Draw pictures next to the vocabulary words if you want to learn them even better. This is especially helpful if you are a visual learner.
    • Regularly incorporate different words onto your desired vocabulary list. Revisit the vocabulary words that you’ve already learned whenever revising your list. Test yourself on how well you’ve mastered those words before moving onto a new set of words.

Learning With Flashcards

  1. Create Latin vocabulary flashcards. Write the Latin vocabulary onto one side of an index card. On the other side, write their English meanings. You can make the flashcards as simple or as fancy as you'd like.[2]
    • Drawing pictures to illustrate the English meanings can help with memorization.
    • The backs of the flashcards should all look the same.
  2. Create a flashcard box. Separate a small box into three sections using cardboard dividers. Put the stack of flashcards into the first section of the box. Cards that you've practiced will be moved to the second section, and those you've mastered will be moved to the third.
  3. Conduct a practice round with the flashcards. One by one, take the cards out and read both sides of the card. Say the vocab words and their English definitions aloud. When you’re done reading both sides, place the cards into the second section of the box. Now you're ready for the memorization round.
  4. Conduct a memorization round with the flashcards. Go through the cards again, this time trying to guess the English definitions of the vocabulary terms. When you correctly state the definition of a term, you can move the card to the third section in the box. If you don't correctly state it, the card gets moved back to the first section.
    • This will allow you to keep track of the words you know and the words that you still need to work on learning.
    • Repeat twice a day. Revise your cards with new words every month while. If you’re still having difficulty with learning words, keep them in the box and practice reciting them until you’ve learned all of your words.

Including Vocabulary Into Everyday Activities

  1. Incorporate vocabulary words into English sentences. Inserting foreign words into English sentences helps with quickly learning the meaning of each word. This technique is known as diglot weave [3]. Come up with different sentences and replace one word at a time with a Latin vocabulary word leaving the rest of the sentence in English. Repeat this, replacing different words within the sentence, until you’ve mastered each word.
  2. Label the items around you. Place a label on the things that are around (wall, window, chair, computer, etc.) with a Post-It note of the word and its meaning on opposite sides. Read both sides of the label until you’ve committed it to memory.
    • When you’ve memorized the word, remove and gather the Post-It notes. Match each vocabulary word with its item.
    • Practice daily and revise your labeled notes with different items. Whenever you walk past a Post-It note, test yourself.
  3. Teach friends and family. The easiest way to remember what you’ve learned is by teaching and sharing with others. Strike up conversations with those around you. Insert the words that you’ve learned into those conversations. Use the diglot weave technique if you’re still working on forming complete sentences.


  • Remember that learning a little bit every day consistently is better than trying to learn a lot one day every week.
  • Learning a new language requires much practice. So try to get Latin texts and start reading to practice your knowledge base. For starters, the Latin Vulgate is great resource. It is elegantly written in concise, simple language for the common man (which is why it is called the "Vulgate"). It has the added advantage that when you encounter something you don't understand, you can quickly compare the passage with an English translation like the King James Version. As your Latin vocabulary increases and you become more proficient, consider advancing to more difficult texts like Caesar or Cicero. Remember, practice makes perfect.

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