By this I mean, if I used a Latin phrase or used a Latin title for something, would that make sense? For example, I was thinking of using a Latin title for an in-world book. Or a Latin species scientific names. Or use the name of some kind of Latin title. Thanks,

  • 3
    This sounds more like a question for the Writing substack than this one. Also, a lot would depend on context and the phrase used. Could an ordinary reader get the gist, and would it matter?
    – Mary
    May 2, 2021 at 13:08
  • An article that might be of interest to you, one about the many names and words that authors have used, and their linguistic origin. May 2, 2021 at 13:18
  • Scientific names are not Latin. They are Latin-ish, but they are fundamentally language-independent. They do obey a small number of Latin morphological and syntactical rules, and they may have a meaning in Latin or in Latinized Greek; but they do not have to have a meaning in the classical languages, and even if they do, the classical meaning is irrelevant. For example, the potato is Solanum tuberosum, which would mean "humpy night-shade"; monitor lizards belong to the genus Varanus, which is an Arabic word, meaningless in Latin or Greek.
    – AlexP
    May 2, 2021 at 13:50
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    In the game Final Fantasy VII you can order Korean BBQ, and in the more recent remake there are dogs identified as German shepherds; in the game world, of course, there is neither Korea nor Germany. The only decision here is whether you mind some pedantic readers having a short giggle about the apparent inconsistency; everyone else won't notice, and for anyone who does notice (including the pedants), it won't detract from their enjoyment of the story.
    – kaya3
    May 2, 2021 at 14:58
  • I also think that this question in its current form belongs to the Writing stack since it asks about the craft of writing rather than the world or its elements.
    – Otkin
    May 2, 2021 at 18:40

2 Answers 2


Yes, if your world is in the right location. You specify medieval in the tags. (Edit: This question and answer were moved and the tags have changed)

Medieval Latin was the form of Latin used in Roman Catholic Western Europe during the Middle Ages. In this region it served as the primary written language, though local languages were also written to varying degrees. Latin functioned as the main medium of scholarly exchange, as the liturgical language of the Church, and as the working language of science, literature, law, and administration.

Medieval Latin represented a continuation of Classical Latin and Late Latin, with enhancements for new concepts as well as for the increasing integration of Christianity. Despite some meaningful differences from Classical Latin, Medieval writers did not regard it as a fundamentally different language. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medieval_Latin

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    And let's not forget that written Medieval Latin is spelled differently from both Classical Latin and New Latin, uses a lot of conventional scribal abbreviations, and employs many uniquely Medieval words or Medieval meanings of classical words. Saying that one knows Latin is generally taken to mean that one can read Classical and New Latin prose; for such a person, reading Medieval Latin requires significant effort, comparable to a Romanian reading Italian or an Englishman reading Middle English.
    – AlexP
    May 2, 2021 at 13:56

This happens all the time in the Harry Potter books


Latin is good for this because it often makes sense to our ears - a lot of English words have Latin roots and if you understand a Romance language there will be more that makes sense.

The other aspect is that Latin was for a long time (and even now) the language of the learned especially as regards medicine. Latin makes things sound official. For example "prurigo nodularis", which means itchy bumps. You the dermatologist could tell someone they have itchy bumps but they might not feel they got their moneys worth since that is what they told when when you walked in. Pharmacy also uses a lot of Latin which always smells alchemical to me.

So: good precedent, less to make up, sounds official - you're good!

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