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Latin Vocabulary: Eternity

by Michael J. Muller
(Schenectady, NY)

Dear Latin Teacher,

I wish to know all the Latin words, terms and phrases for Eternity.

The information on the web about it is scattered and confusing for me. Please help.

Sincerely, Michael

Dear Michael,

I don't know if I can get them all for you, but here's a running start at the most common words and phrases.

  • aeternitas, aeternitatis: This third declension noun is the root word for our English word eternity. As often happens, the Latin diphthong -ae- becomes -e- in English. It is found in expressions such as in aeternitatem (for eternity) and per aeternitatem (through eternity). It can be used of the past or future time.

  • aeternus and sempiternus are adjecives related to the noun aeternitas, and they are often used in expressions of eternity. For example, in aeternum (forever, eternally), in sempiternum (forever). Sempiternus is a contraction of semper (always) and aeternus (eternal). So we have also the noun sempiternitas, sempiternitatis.

  • aevum, aevi: this neuter noun means eternity or never-ending time. However, it also often means a lifetime, an age, a time period, or a life. Nonetheless, its primary meaning is eternity, and it is found in phrases such as per aevum (through eternity) and in aevum (for all time).

  • aeon, aeonis: This is a Greek word (αἰών) taken into Latin. It also means age or eternity.

Another phrase seen in Latin to mean basically eternity or for all time: in perpetuum (for perpetuity), which is really a shortened form of in perpetuum aevum.

Hope this helps, and thanks for asking a Latin teacher!



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