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Vocabulary: Work & Fun

Dear Latin teacher,

How do you say fun in Latin? How do you say work in Latin? I believe work is Opus. And finally how do you say fun work in Latin?

Thanking you in Advance,


Dear George,

You are right that opus, operis is work in Latin. It is a noun, either the act of working or the thing completed by working. It is often used of literary works and works of art or architecture.

The list of English derivatives is quite long, and comes from the stem of the genitive case: operis (meaning of work).

  • operation:
  • Not just a surgical one, but also military, mathematical, or any other process involving work.
  • operational:
  • If the toaster is operational, it is working.
  • cooperate:
  • To work together
  • magnum opus:
  • A direct borrowing from Latin, meaning great work, i.e. the single greatest work of an artist or musician.
  • opera:
  • Another borrowing from Latin, literally meaning works. (As opus, operis is a neuter noun, the plural ends in -a.)

Now for the fun. Fun is also a noun, and Latin equivalents include iocus, which gives us the English 'joke', ludus, which gives us 'ludicrous' and 'delude', and gaudium, meaning more 'joy' than 'fun'.

But your use of the word fun in the phrase 'fun work' makes fun into an adjective. This is more difficult in Latin, as there are no exact equivalents to fun as an adjective.

If 'fun' means 'pleasant' or 'pleasurable', then the word you're looking for might be iucundus, -a, -um. And the phrase 'fun work' would be in Latin: opus iucundum.

Thanks for asking a Latin teacher.


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