Military terms and definitions in Ancient Rome

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A balneis: in charge of baths.
A copiis militaribus: ‘in charge of military supplies’; imperial secretary responsible for military expenses.
A rationibus: ‘in charge of accounts’; imperial secretary responsible for the treasury.
A rationibus castrensis: camp accounting secretary’; offical responsible for accounting supplies and provisions.
Ab actis: ‘in charge of acts’; clerk.
Ab epistulis: ín charge of letters’; imperial secretary responsible for military promotions.
Absentia rei publicae causa: absence on behalf of the state; military service meant that most types of legal action against a soldier were frozen untill his discharge.
Accensus: ‘reservist’; light legionary infantry soldier.
Acceptarius: discharged soldier.
Acceptum: amount received by soldier after deductions from his pay.
Acies: battle line.
Acies duplex: double battle lines.
Acies triplex: triple battle lines.
Aclis: javelin.
Actarius: clerk.
Ad pila et spathas: close quarter combat.
Ad signa: ‘with the standards’; present with unit.
Ad stercus: latrine fatigue duty.
Ad triarios redisse: ‘to fall back on the triarii‘; to have reached a desperate situation.
Adaeratio: recruitment tax.
Adcrescens: adolescent; soldier’s offspring that would follow in the hereditary military service of the fourth century AD and received rations before taking up actual service.
Adiutor: assistant; batman.
Adiutor librarii: assistant clerk.
Adiutor praetorii: headquarter’s adjutant.
Adiutor signorum: assistant of the standards.
Adiutrix: ‘supporter’; title borne by two legions raised from naval soldiers.
Adlectus: picked or transferred soldier.
Adlocutio: formal speech.
Adstatus: variant spelling of hastatus.
Aedes: sanctuary in the HQ where the standards were stored and a likeness of the emperor was kept.
Aenator: military musician.
Aerarium: treasury; pay chest.
Aerarium militare: military pension fund.
Aestiva: summer campaigning camp.
Agens in rebus: late Roman intelligence operative.
Ager publicus: ‘public land’; confiscated land belonging to the Roman state.
Agger: (1) earth wall; (2) assault ramp.
Agmen: column.
Agmen quadratum: square marching formation.
Agrimensor: surveyor.
Ala: ‘wing’; (1) unit of the allies; (2) unit of auxiliary cavalry.
Ala dromedaria: cavalry unit with attached camel riders.
Ala milliaria: auxiliary cavalry unit with an establishment strength of some thousand men.
Ala quingenaria: auxiliary cavalry unit with an establishment strength of some five hundred troopers.
Ala sociorum: unit of several thousand soldiers drawn from the socii or allies.
Alaris: ‘wingman’; soldier serving in ala.
Alaudae: ‘crested larks’; cognomen for the legio V originally raised by Caesar as a legio vernacula.
Album veteranorum: list of veterans.
Allectus: chosen man; elite soldier.
Ambulatio: marching exercise.
Ambulatura: marching exercise.
Amentum: thong attached to a throwing spear to increase range and accuracy.
Angaria: requisitioning of transport.
Angusticlavius: decorated with thin purple stripe.
Angusticlavus: thin purple stripe on tunic indicating membership of the equestrian order.
Annona: (1) provisions; (2) tax in kind.
Annona foederatica: subsidy given to allies.
Annona militaris: ‘military ration’: (1) ration; (2) tax in kind to provide for rations.
Antecursor: ‘front runner’; advanced skirmisher.
Antepilanus: ‘in front of the spearbearers’; soldier stationed in first or second battle line.
Antesignanus: soldier fighting in front of the standards; elite legionary foot soldier capable of fighting as both heavy and light infantry.
Anularium: money grant received from military association.
Aper: boar; one of the five original legionary standards of a republican legio and symbol of the imperial legio XX and llegio X Fretensis.
Apollinaris: dedicated to Apollo.
Aquila: eagle standard.
Aquilae natalis: ‘birthday of the eagle’; anniversary of the official founding of a legio.
Aquilifer: eaglebearer; standardbearer carrying the legion’s eagle.
Archigybernes: senior helmsman.
Architectus: engineer; constructor of torsion guns.
Arcuballista: torsion gun; crossbow.
Arcus: bow.
Arcuarius: bowyer.
Areani: late Roman scout/spy unit based in Britannia.
Aries: battering ram.
Arma: weapons.
Arma antesignana: the weapons of the antesignani; lonchè or lancea and aspis.
Arma legionaria: legionary weapons.
Arma postsignana: the weapons of the postsignani; xyston or pilum and thyreos or scutum.
Arma velitaria: the weapons belonging to the velites; hasta velitaris and parma.
Armamentarium: weapons storage.
Armatura: (1) advanced weapons training; (2) weapon instructor; (3) soldier with advanced weapons training; (4) armament.
Armatura duplaris: weapons instructor on double rations.
Armatus: armed.
Armicustos: soldier tasked with the administration and supply of weapons and equipment.
Armidoctor: equivalent of doctor armorum; weapons instructor.
Armiger: ‘weaponbearer’; armed man.
Armilausa: military clothing item.
Armilla: arm band used as military decoration.
Artifex: artisan.
Arx: fortress.
Assiduus: propertied citizen with military service obligation.
Aurum tironicum: money tax levied instead of protostasia.
Auspicia: supreme authority.
Auxilia: auxiliaries.
Auxilia palatina: late Roman crack infantry units.
Auxiliaris: auxiliary soldier.
Auxilium: late Roman infantry unit.
Auxilium palatinum: elite late Roman field army infantry unit.


Bacaudae: late Roman rebel group in Gaul.
Ballista: torsion gun.
Ballista quadrirotis: ‘fourwheeled torsion gun’; mobile catapult.
Ballistarius: artillery soldier.
Balteus: military belt.
Bandifer: Byzantine standard bearer.
Bandum: late Roman military standard.
Barbaricum: the world beyond the imperial frontiers.
Barbarus: non Roman; foreigner.
Baro: servant; groom.
Barcarius: bargeman.
Barritus: battle cry.
Basilica equestris exercitatoria: cavalry training hall.
Basilica exercitatoria: drill hall.
Basilikos: imperial.
Batavus: (1) Batavian; (2) nickname of imperial horse guard trooper.
Battualia: fighting exercise.
Bearcus: variant spelling of biarchus, a late Roman noncom.
Bearcus draconarius: late Roman senior standardbearer.
Bebra: barbarian heavy javelin.
Bellator: fighter; warrior.
Bellum: war.
Beneficium: ‘favour’; military promotion.
Beneficiarius: ‘beneficiary’; (1) soldier on special assignment; (2) military police.
Beneficiarius consularis: soldier attached to a provincial governor’s staff.
Beneficiarius legati legionis: soldier attached to staff of legionary commander.
Beneficiarius praefecti praetorio: soldier serving on the staff of the praetorian prefect.
Beneficiarius praefecti urbis: soldier serving on the staff of the urban prefect.
Beneficiarius procuratoris: soldier serving on the staff of a procurator.
Beneficiarius praefecti proconsulis: soldier serving on the staff of the governor appointed by the senate.
Beneficiarius sexmestris: soldier on a six month tour as beneficiarius.
Beneficiarius tribuni: soldier attached to the staff of a tribunus.
Biarchus: late Roman NCO.
Bipennis: double headed axe.
Bracae: trousers.
Brittunculus: ‘little Briton’; derogatory name for Roman adversary in Britannia.
Buccellarius: private retainer.
Buccellatum: hard tack; ration.
Bucculla: helmet cheeck piece.
Bucina: musical instrument.
Bucinator: trumpeter.
Bucinator principalis: trumpeter with NCO rank.
Burgarius: soldier stationed at burgus.
Burgus: small fortification.


Cacula: military servant.
Caesim ferire: to slash (with a sword).
Calceus: shoe; boot.
Calciarium: ‘shoe money’; bounty demanded by troops for prolonged marching.
Caliga: leather personnel carrier; military boot.
Caligatus: person wearing caligae; soldier, NCO or officer below the social rank of eques Romanus.
Calo: horse groom; military servant.
Campicursio: military exercise.
Campidoctor: drill instructor.
Campigenus: ‘born at the exercise field’; elite legionary soldier.
Campus: cavalry training area; exercise field.
Campus Martius: field of Mars where during the republic troops were assembled prior to military campaigns.
Canabae: civilian settlement attached to military base.
Candidatus: (1) soldier awaiting promotion; (2) late Roman guardsman.
Cannensis: the nickname of the soldiers who had survived the defeat at Cannae and were kept in service until Carthage was defeated in the Second Punic War.
Capite censi: ‘head count’; citizens that could not meet the property demands required for military service.
Capsa: container with bandages and medical implements carried by medics.
Capsarius: medic.
Caput contubernii: head of tentparty.
Caput porcinum: ‘boar’s head’; attack column or wedge formation.
Carcer: prison cell.
Carcerarius: prison guard.
Carroballista: torsion artillery.
Cassis: helmet.
Castellum: fort.
Castigatio: corporal punishment.
Castra: camp.
Castra aestiva: summer campaigning camp.
Castra hiberna: winter base.
Castra movere: to break camp.
Castra nova: ‘new camp’; second base for imperial horse guard at Rome after the unit was increased in size.
Castra peregrina: military base at Rome for personel seconded from the provincial armies.
Castra praetoria: praetorian camp; (1) base of the praetorian guard at Rome established by Tiberius; (2) dense close ordered formation in the late Roman army.
Castra priora: ‘earlier camp’; original base of imperial horse guard at Rome.
Castrense peculium: possessions acquired by soldier during military service which remained outside the patria potestas.
Cataphracta: body armour.
Cataphractarius: heavily armoured cavalryman.
Cataphractus: heavily armoured cavalryman.
Catapulta: ‘shield smasher’; torsion gun.
Causarius: soldier discharged for wounds or other medical reasons.
Cedo alteram: ‘give me another’; nickname of a hated centurio killed in the Pannonian mutiny of AD 14 who used to break his vine sticks on the back of his men.
Celeusta: naval officer.
Cenaticum: provision of (money for) food; often extorted by soldiers billeted on civilians.
Centenaria: small fortification.
Centenarius: late Roman officer of equivalent rank as centurio.
Centenus: unit of nominally a hundred men.
Centuria: ‘hundred’; military unit of some thirty to two hundred foot soldiers.
Centurio: ‘commander of hundred’; centurion; officer.
Centurio alti ordinis: centurion of higher rank.
Centurio classicus: naval centurion.
Centurio deputatus: centurion on detached duty.
Centurio exercitator: cavalry training officer.
Centurio frumentarius: centurion of the military intelligence service.
Centurio legionarius: legionary centurion.
Centurio ordinarius/ordinatus: centurion commanding a centuria.
Centurio posterior: second in command of a manipulus.
Centurio prior: senior centurion of a manipulus.
Centurio protector: ‘bodyguard centurion’; officer among the protectores.
Centurio regionarius: district centurion responsible for administration and law enforcement.
Centurio retentus: centurion serving on after term of service.
Centurio speculatorum Augustorum: officer attached to the speculatores of the praetorian guard.
Centurio statorum: centurion in charge of military constabulary.
Centurio stratorum: officer in charge of horse supply to the army which was at times placed in command of the pedites singulares.
Centurio supernumerarius: supernumerary centurion with special assignments.
Centurio tralatus: transferred centurion.
Cervus: ‘animal horn’; obstacle made of pointed stakes.
Cetra: shield; small Hispanic buckler.
Cetratus: (1) soldier equipped with a small shield; (2) skirmisher.
Cibaria: rations.
Cibariator: commissariat clerk.
Cibus: food; ration.
Cinctus: ‘girded with sword belt’; combat ready.
Cingulum: late Roman military belt.
Cingulum militare: late Roman military belt.
Circitor: late Roman junior cavalry NCO originally tasked with making rounds to inspect sentries.
Circumvallatio: circumvallation.
Civis Romanus: Roman citizen.
Civium Romanorum: epithet of auxiliary units that were either originally recruited from Roman citizens or had received a mass grant of the citizenship for outstanding service.
Clades: defeat.
Clades Lolliana: ‘Lollian defeat’; defeat of governor Lollius against invading Germanic tribesmen in 16 BC.
Clades Variana: ‘Varian defeat’; defeat of Varus in the Teutoburgian forest in 9 AD.
Classiarius: sailor; marine.
Classicum: military musical salute.
Classicus: naval soldier; sailor, marine.
Classis: (1) part of population with military service obligations; (2) fleet.
Classis Germanica: ‘German fleet’; Rhine fleet.
Classis praetoria: ‘praetorian fleet’; main naval fleet stationed at Ravenna or Misenum.
Classis praetoria Ravennatium: ‘praetorian fleet of Ravenna’; main Roman fleet based in Adriatic Sea.
Classis praetoria Misenatium: ‘praetorian fleet of Misenum’; main Roman fleet based in Tyrhenean Sea.
Clavarium: ‘hobnail money’; allowance given to soldiers for purchase of extra nails when involved in prolonged marching.
Clavis lignea: wooden practice sword.
Clavicula: curved wall and ditch extension protecting a gate of a marching camp.
Clavicularius: guard stationed at the gate.
Clavus: tunic decoration.
Clibanarius: ‘field oven man’; heavily armoured cavalry trooper.
Clibanus: field oven.
Clinicus: medic.
Clipeus: buckler.
Cognomen: (honorary) nickname.
Cohors: military unit.
Cohors alaria: allied – or auxiliary unit.
Cohors classica: auxiliary unit originally formed of sailors and marines.
Cohors equitata: unit of auxiliary infantry with attached mounted squadrons.
Cohors Germanorum: the unit of Germani custodes corporis.
Cohors milliaria: ‘thousand strong unit’; military unit with an establishment strength of a 1000 soldiers.
Cohors palatina: ‘palace unit’; tetrarchic title of cohors praetoria.
Cohors peditata: infantry unit.
Cohors praetoria: (1) bodyguard of a general during the republic; (2) unit of imperial guard.
Cohors quingenaria: military unit with an establishment strength of 500 men.
Cohors speculatorum: guard unit of Marcus Antonius composed of scouts.
Cohors togata: unit of praetorian guard in civilian dress tasked with duties within the pomerium.
Cohors torquata: auxiliary unit granted a torques.
Cohors tumultuaria: irregular auxiliary unit.
Cohors urbana: urban cohort; military police unit.
Cohors vigilum: cohort of the watchmen; unit of the police force annex fire brigade.
Cohortalis: soldier belonging to a cohors.
Collatus: soldier picked for service in other unit.
Collega: member of the same unit.
Comes: ‘companion’; (1)friend of the emperor; (2) late Roman army commander (3) elite cavalryman.
Comes domesticorum: commander of the household troops.
Comes domesticorum equitum: ‘count of the household cavalry’; late Roman guard cavalry commander.
Comes rei militaris: ‘count of military affairs’; late Roman military commander.
Comitatensis: soldier belonging to late Roman field army.
Comitatus: ‘following’; imperial field army of the third century AD.
Comites dominorum nostrorum: ‘companions of our lords’; imperial horse guards from the tetrarchy.
Comitia centuriata: popular assembly based on ancient army structure of centuriae.
Comitiatus: senior officer elected by popular assembly.
Commanipularis: fellow soldier; brother in arms.
Commoda: discharge benefits.
Commodiana: ‘Commodus’ own’; honorary unit title.
Commeatus: leave.
Commentariensis: legal staff administrator.
Commentarii: field commander’s report to the senate.
Commilito: fellow soldier.
Comminus: close quarter fighting.
Compar: soldier of the same rank.
Conalaris: ‘fellow wingman’; trooper belonging to same cavalry unit.
Concha: ‘seashell’; shipwreck.
Concordia exercituum: ‘concord of the armies’; propaganda slogan used on coins.
Conditorium: depot.
Conductor: supply contractor.
Congeries armorum: pile of military equipment.
Conquisitor: recruiting officer.
Consilium: imperial advisory council.
Consistorium: late Roman imperial advisory council.
Constitutio: service regulation. Several sets of military constitutiones were formulated by emperors, among them Augustus and Hadrianus.
Consul: consul; highest magistrate in republican Rome commanding major military forces.
Consularis: former consul.
Contarius: heavy cavalry soldier armed with two handed pike.
Contiro: fellow recruit.
Contributus: transferred soldier.
Contubernalis: (1) officer cadet; (2) squad member.
Contubernium: tentparty; group of soldiers sharing a tent.
Contus: spear; heavy two handed thrusting spear.
Conubium: legal marriage.
Conveteranus: fellow veteran.
Copiae: (1) military forces; (2) supplies.
Cornicen: horn-blower.
Cornicularius: NCO with administrative duties.
Cornicularius consularis: NCO heading provincial governor’s administrative staff.
Cornicularius legati: NCO at head of administrative staff of legionary legate.
Cornicularius praefectorum praetorio: NCO supervising administrative staff of praetorian prefects.
Cornicularius praefecti classis: NCO at head of administrative staff of fleet prefect.
Cornicularius praefecti Aegypti: NCO supervising administrative staff of governor of Egypt.
Cornicularius praefecti legionis: NCO at head of administrative staff of legionary prefect.
Cornicularius praesidis: NCO heading administrative staff of equestrian governor.
Cornicularius procuratoris Augusti: NCO at head of imperial procurator’s administrative staff.
Cornicularius tribuni: NCO supervising tribune’s administrative staff.
Corniculum: small horn used as a military decoration.
Cornu: (1) horn; (2) wing of battle formation.
Cornuti: ‘horned ones’; late Roman auxilium palatinum.
Corona: wreath or crown awarded as military decoration.
Corona aurea: gold crown.
Corona civica: wreath of oak leaves awarded for saving a fellow citizen’s life.
Corona classica: fleet crown; naval decoration.
Corona exploratoria: crown awarded to scouts.
Corona graminea/obsidionalis: grass crown awarded for saving an entire army.
Corona muralis: crown awarded to first man reaching the top of an enemy wall.
Corona navalis: naval crown.
Corona vallaris: crown awarded to first man on top of an enemy rampart.
Corvus: ‘raven’; movable boarding bridge.
Covinus: Celtic war-chariot.
Cratis: wickerwork shield.
Crista: helmet crest.
Crista transversa: transverse helmet crest used as recognition mark of centurion.
Cristatus: crested.
Cuneus: ‘wedge’; (1) attack column or wedge formation; (2) cavalry unit.
Cuneus equitum: cavalry unit.
Cura copiarum: supply management.
Cura explorationis: responsibility for scouting.
Curam agens: soldier in charge.
Curator: (1) soldier, NCO or officer with special responsibilities; (2) supply administrator.
Curator cohortis: interim commander of auxiliary regiment.
Curator Germanorum: commander of the Germani custodes corporis, the imperial bodyguard.
Curator operis armamentarii: person in charge of arms supply.
Curator turmae: cavalryman with special duties.
Curator veteranorum: officer in charge of time served soldiers awaiting discharge.
Custos vivarii: guard of animal enclosure.
Cursores: ‘runners’; assault troops.
Cursus clabularis: wagon post; imperial wagon transportation service.
Cursus honorum: the public career path of Roman nobles consisting of both civilian and military posts.
Cursus publicus: imperial posting system.
Custos: guard; guardian; sentry.
Custos armorum: soldier tasked with the registration and supply of weapons and equipment.
Custos basilicae: caretaker of training hall.


Decanus: commander of contubernium or tentparty.
Decimipilus: centurion of the pili of the tenth cohort of a legion.
Decumanus: soldier of the legio X.
Decurio: cavalry officer; (1) officer commanding ten to thirty horse men in the legion of the early republic; (2) officer commanding a turma in the auxilia.
Decurio exercitator: cavalry training officer.
Decurio praepositus: decurion placed in command.
Decurio princeps: officer in charge of unit’s administration.
Decursio: military exercise.
Dediticius: someone who has surrendered; prisoner of war.
Deditio: unconditional surrender.
Deducticius: settled veteran.
Defector: deserter.
Defensores: ‘defenders’; troops in close order defensive formation.
Delectus: picked soldier.
Deposita: savings.
Deposita ad signa: ‘deposits at the standards’; savings.
Deputatus: medical orderly.
Dictator: senior magistrate granted emergency powers originally appointed for a period of six months.
Difalangia: double battle order, ie facing front and rear.
Digmata: shield decoration.
Dilectator: official in charge of conscription levy.
Dilectus: conscription levy.
Diploma: discharge certificate.
Direptio: sack.
Discens: trainee.
Discens architecti: trainee engineer; trainee artillery constructor.
Discens armaturae: trainee weapons instructor.
Discens aquiliferum: trainee eagle standard bearer.
Discens aquiliferorum: trainee eagle standard bearer.
Discens bucinatorem: trainee trumpeteer.
Discens capsariorum: soldier training for function as medical orderly.
Discens epibatae: trainee marine.
Discens equitum: trainee cavalryman
Discens lanchiariorum: trainee javelineer.
Discens mensorem: trainee surveyor.
Discens phalangarium: soldier training as a phalangarius: during the third century AD several experiments were conducted with Macedonian phalanx tactics, apparently requiring special training in weapons handling and drill.
Discens signiferorum: trainee standardbearer.
Dispensator: imperial treasury slave.
Distributio numerorum: distribution of units; the order of battle of the Roman army in the Notitia Dignitatum.
Doctor: instructor.
Doctor armorum: weapons instructor.
Doctor sagittariorum: ‘teacher of archers’; archery instructor.
Dolabra: axe.
Dolator: sailor in charge of rigging sail.
Dolus: trick, ruse.
Domesticus: ‘household man’; late Roman imperial guard soldier.
Domitiana: ‘Domitian’s own’; honorary title for loyal army units in Domitian’s reign.
Dona militaria: military decorations.
Donativum: extraordinary grant of money.
Donis donatus: rewarded with decorations.
Draco: ‘dragon’; windsock standard.
Draconarius: dragon bearer; late Roman standardbearer.
Dromedarius: camel trooper.
Ducenarius: late Roman officer.
Duovir navalis: republican era naval commander.
Duplaris: NCO on double basic pay.
Duplicarius: NCO on double basic pay.
Duumvir navalis: member of naval committee of two; republican era naval commander.
Dux: commander.
Dux ripae: ‘river bank commander’; subordinate commander of frontier section.


Elephans turritus: turreted elephant.
Emansor: deserter.
Emerita statio: completed tour of duty.
Emeritus: soldier having served mandatory time; veteran.
Epibata: marine.
Epistula commendaticia: letter of recommendation; credential.
Eques: cavalryman.
Eques alaris: cavalryman belonging to auxiliary ala.
Eques Augustorum: praetorian cavalry trooper.
Eques Batavus: (1) Batavian horseman; (2) imperial horse guard trooper, not necessarily recruited from that particular tribe.
Eques capsarius: mounted medical orderly.
Eques cohortalis: trooper belonging to cohors equitata.
Eques dominorum nostrorum: ‘horseman of our lords’; tetrarchic imperial horse guard trooper.
Eques indigena: local cavalryman.
Eques legionis: legionary horseman.
Eques praetorianus: cavalryman attached to cohors praetoria.
Eques promotus: mounted legionary or praetorian.
Eques protector: legionary cavalryman acting as bodyguard.
Eques Romanus: ‘Roman knight’; member of equestrian class.
Eques sagittarius: horse archer.
Eques singularis: (1) auxiliary trooper serving in the governor’s guard; (2) legionary cavalryman serving as bodyguard of senior officers.
Eques singularis Augusti: trooper of imperial horse guard.
Eques speculator: ‘scout’ or ‘spy’; mounted scout.
Eques stablesianus: ‘stableboy’; mounted legionary.
Equisio: horse attendant.
Equitatus: cavalry.
Equus: (1) horse; (2) horse standard, one of the five original legionary standards in the republican Roman army.
Equus publicus: horse provided at state expense to a select body of Roman knights and senators.
Equus privatus: mount provided at own expense.
Ergodotes: naval soldier; sailor.
Evocatus: reenlisted veteran.
Evocatus Augusti: reenlisted veteran from cohortes praetoriae.
Ex frumentario: former military intelligence officer.
Exactus: accountant.
Exarchus: late Roman cavalry officer.
Exauctoritas: discharge from military service.
Excerptor: shorthand secretary; clerk.
Excubia: guard post.
Excubatio ad signa: colour guard duty.
Excubitor: late Roman guardsman.
Excubitus: guard duty.
Exculcator: skirmisher.
Exercitatio: military exercise.
Exercitator: cavalry instructor.
Exercitator armaturarum: cavalry instructor of praetorian instructors.
Exercitator equitum praetorianorum: training officer of the praetorian horsemen.
Exercitator militum frumentariorum: instructor of the soldiers of the military intelligence service.
Exercitator equitum speculatorum: instructor of the mounted scouts of the praetorian guard.
Exercitus: army.
Exercitus Germanicus Inferior: the provincial army of Germania Inferior.
Expeditio: imperial field campaign.
Expeditus: (1) soldier without marching pack; (2) soldier with light equipment.
Exploratio: reconnaissance mission.
Explorator: scout.
Extraordinarius: picked soldier from republican allies.
Exuviae: plundered weaponry and equipment.


Faber: artisan.
Faber navalis: ship’s carpenter.
Fabrica: workshop.
Fabrica ballistaria: artillery workshop.
Fabrica cohortis: cohort’s workshop.
Fabrica legionis: workshop of the legion.
Fabricensis: artisan.
Falarica: javelin.
Falx: battle-scythe.
Familia: late Roman squad.
Fascia: socks.
Felix: fortunate; lucky; nickname borne by some imperial units.
Feminalia: breeches.
Ferentarius: (1) republican legionary light infantryman; (2) republican legionary slinger; (3) republican legionary light cavalryman; (4) military servant.
Feriale Duranum: military calendar of festivals.
Ferrata: ‘ironclad’; nickname of one of the legiones VI.
Fetialis: priest involved with religious ceremonies surrounding declaration of war.
Fidelis: loyal.
Finis: border.
Finitus commeatus: restricted leave.
Fisci curator: praetorian guard armicustos.
Fiscus: imperial treasury.
Flavia: ‘Flavian’; raised or reconstituted either by Vespasianus for early imperial units or by Constantius in case of late Roman units.
Flavialis: late Roman NCO.
Focale: scarf.
Foederatus: ally.
Foedus: treaty.
Forfex: pincer.
Forma: map.
Fossa: ditch.
Fossa fastigata: V-shaped ditch.
Fossa Punica: ‘Punic ditch’; ditch with inward sloping side and outward nearly vertical side.
Framea: Germanic spear.
Fretensis: ‘smashing’ or ‘destroying’; legionary nickname derived from a battle fought in the Fretum, the sea passage between Sicily and Italy.
Frumentarius: soldier responsible for grain supply; military intelligence operative.
Frumentatio: collection of grain supplies; fouraging.
Frumentum menstruum gratuitum: free monthly grain allowance; priviledge enjoyed by praetorian soldiers from Nero’s reign.
Fuga: flight.
Fulco LA): close packed defensive formation similar to the testudo.
Fulminata: ‘thunderbolt’; legionary nickname of legio XII.
Funditor: slinger.
Furca: baggage carrying pole.
Fustibalis: staff sling.
Fustis: baton; staff used as badge of office.
Fustuarium: death penalty by stoning or cudgeling.


Gaesum: spear.
Gaesatus; spearman; Celtic mercenary.
Galea: helmet.
Galearius: military servant.
Gastrapheta: ‘belly bow’; heavy crossbow / light torsion gun.
Gemina: twin.
Geminensis: soldier belonging to a unit named Gemina.
Gentilis: foreigner; barbarian.
Germanicianus: soldier belonging to the provincial armies of Germania Superior and Germania Inferior.
Germanus custos corporis: German bodyguard of Julio-Claudian dynasty.
Gladiator: swordfighter.
Gladius: general term for sword, NOT necessarily a shortsword.
Gladius Hispanicus: ‘Spanish sword’; double edged cut-and-thrust weapon with a tapering blade and a point suited for ripping open mail armour.
Gladius Hispaniensis: ‘Spanish sword’; double edged cut-and-thrust weapon with a tapering blade and a point suited for ripping open mail armour.
Gladius pugnatorius: fighting – or combat sword; ie not a training weapon.
Glans: slingshot.
Globus: (1) fast moving unit; (2) square.
Gradus: (1) marching pace; (2) military rank.
Gradus deiectio: reduction in military rank.
Gradus militaris: measured military marching pace.
Gradus plenus: full step; more relaxed step better suited for marching.
Gravis armatura: heavy armed.
Gregalis: private; common soldier.
Gregarius: private; ranker.
Groma: surveying instrument.
Gubernator: helmsman.


Harpago: harpoon.
Hasta: spear.
Hasta amentata: thonged javelin.
Hasta pura: spear without iron tip used as a military decoration.
Hasta velitaris: light throwing spear with soft iron tip.
Hastarius: spearman.
Hastatus: ‘spearman’; legionary heavy infantryman.
Hastatus centurio: centurion in charge of unit of hastati.
Hastatus posterior: deputy to hastatus prior.
Hastatus prior: centurion commanding a manipulus of hastati.
Hastile: (1) wooden practice spear; (2) staff of the optio centuriae.
Hastiliarius: weapons instructor.
Hastula: small spear.
Hemistrigium: barracks buiding housing a centuria.
Herculiani: ‘Hercules’s own’; tetrarchic elite legion.
Hexeris: ‘six banked galley’; heavy war ship.
Hiberna: winter quarters.
Hippago: horse transport.
Honesta missio: honourable discharge.
Honesta missio ex causa: honourable discharge granted to wounded or sick soldiers.
Honos aquilae: honour of the eagle.
Hoplomachia: weapons training.
Horrea: granaries.
Hospitalitas: ‘hospitality’; quartering and provisioning arrangements.
Hospitium: forced billeting.
Hostis: enemy.


Iaculator: ‘spear thrower’; light legionary foot soldier.
Iaculum: missile; javelin.
Iconismus: distinguishing mark; scar.
Ignominiosa missio: dishonourable discharge.
Imaginifer: standardbearer carrying a likeness of the emperor.
Imago: standard with the emperor’s portrait.
Immunis: soldier exempted from certain duties.
Immunis bucinator: trumpeter excused fatigue duty. Note that a bucinator is also attested as a principalis, suggesting that this position could be held by men of varying status.
Immunis karcerarius: specialist soldier on prison duty.
Immunis perpetuus: soldier permanently freed from fatigue duties; the unusual addition of perpetuus seems to suggest that other immunes may have enjoyed this status for only a limited period of time.
Immunis venator: hunter with exemption.
Impedimenta: baggage.
Impeditus: soldier carrying baggage pack.
Imperator: commander-in-chief; emperor.
Imperium: (1) the right to command absolute obedience; (2) empire.
Impetus: attack.
In calceo agens: serving in equestrian position ie as centurio, praefectus or tribunus.
In caliga agens: serving as soldier, NCO or non-equestrian centurio.
In numeros referre: to enroll; to enter an accepted soldier in the records.
In praetorio agens: ‘serving at the HQ’; serving in cohortes praetoriae.
In vestimentum: clothing expenses.
In victum: food expenses.
Incomma: standard height.
Indictio: levy of tax in kind.
Inimicus: hostile, enemy.
Inquisitio: examination of recruits.
Insidia: ambush.
Insidiator: ‘ambusher’; soldier belonging to screening force; flank guard.
Insigne: distinguishing mark.
Insignia scuti: shield designs.
Interpres: interpreter.
Intervallum: space between the wall and the living quarters of a camp.
Ioviani: ‘Iuppiter’s own’; tetrarchic elite legion.
Iter: march.
Iter iustum: normal day’s march of 20 Roman miles.
Itinerarium: simplified road map.
Iudex: ‘judge’; Latin name given to Gothic supreme war leader known as the thiudans.
Iugum: yoke; gate made of spears under which captive soldiers were made to pass as a humiliation.
Iumentarius: soldier or military servant in charge of baggage animals.
Iumentum: pack animal.
Iuniores: ‘recruits’; late Roman unit created around nucleus of veterans detached from another formation.
Ius conubii: right to contract a marriage.
Ius fetiale: ‘fetial law’; religious rules governing Roman external relations and formal declaration of war.
Iuventus: paramilitary youth organisation.


Labarum: late Roman military standard, that of Constantine the Great being known for the inclusion of the Chi-Rho sign.
Lancea: spear; (1) light thonged javelin; (2) thrusting spear with decorated blade used as badge of office.
Lancea herculiana: unspecified type of spear mentioned in Historia Augusta.
Lancearius: (1) soldier armed with lancea; (2) picked legionary or praetorian capable of acting as light infantry soldier.
Lancia pugnatoria: combat spear as opposed to training weapon.
Lancia subarmalis: small javelin.
Lanista: gladiatorial weapons instructor.
Latro: man of violence; (1) soldier; (2) bandit; guerilla fighter.
Latrunculus: petty bandit; guerilla fighter.
Lectus: (1) draftee; conscript; (2) chosen man; elite soldier.
Lectus in sacro comitatu lanciarius: picked out for service as javelineer in imperial field army.
Legatus: subordinate commander.
Legatus Augusti pro praetore: imperial legate with authority of praetor; provincial governor.
Legatus legionis: legate of the legion; senatorial legionary commander.
Legio: ‘levy’; basic Roman military unit of several thousand men.
Legio classica: ‘naval legion’; legion doing shipboard duty as boarding party marines.
Legio comitatensis: ‘legion in the entourage’; field army legion.
Legio iusta: ‘proper legion’; legion constituted from citizens as opposed to unit levied from provincials.
Legio palatina: ‘palace legion’; elite field army legion.
Legio pseudocomitatensis: frontier legion serving in late Roman field army.
Legio urbana: ‘city legion’; legion raised for defence of the city of Rome itself.
Legio vernacula: ‘vernacular legion’; legion levied from provincials rather than Roman citizens.
Legio volonum: ‘legion of volunteers’; military unit recruited from slave volunteers.
Legionarius: legionary soldier.
Leones: ‘lions’; name of Caracalla’s body guard unit.
Levis: early republican legionary skirmisher attached to units of hastati.
Levis armatura: light armed.
Liber commeatus: unrestricted leave.
Libera testamenta factio: right to make a will free from formal legal requirements; important military priviledge.
Liberalitas: ‘generosity’; alternative term for the special money grants more commonly known as donativum.
Libertus: freedman.
Librarius: archive clerk.
Librarius caducorum: clerk in charge of the registration associated with deceased soldiers and the disposal of their belongings.
Libritor: (1) slinger; (2) artilleryman.
Liburna: light war-ship.
Liburnarius: marine.
Lignatio: collection of firewood.
Ligo: entrenching tool.
Lilia: ‘lilies’; concealed obstacle.
Limes: frontier road.
Limitanei: frontier unit.
Lituus: musical instrument.
Lixa: military servant; camp-follower.
Lorica: (1) body armour; (2) parapet.
Lorica hamata: mail shirt.
Lorica plumata: ‘feathered armour’; ribbed scale armour.
‘Lorica segmentata’: modern term for laminated plate armour.
Lorica squamata: scale armour.
Loricatus: armoured.
Loricula: small (and presumably light) set of armour.
Ludus gladiatorum: gladiatorial training school.
Lupus: ‘wolf’; (1) spiked drawbridge; (2) one of the five original legionary standards during the republic.
Lusoria: small boat.
LXG: acronym for Legio X Gemina; the Tenth Twin-legion.
LXGPFD: acronym for Legio X Gemina Pia Fidelis Domitiana; the Tenth Loyal and Dutiful Twin legion, Domitian’s own.


Machina: siege engine; torsion gun.
Magister: (1) officer; (2) NCO; (3) private with special responsibilities.
Magister equitum: ‘master of the horse’; (1)late Roman senior officer (2) deputy to dictator during the republic.
Magister militum: ‘master of the soldiers’; late Roman senior officer.
Magister peditum: ‘master of the infantry’; late Roman senior officer.
Magister populi: ‘master of the people’; equivalent title of dictator.
Magister praesentalis: general of the late Roman imperial field army.
Magister utriusque militiae: ‘master of both military services’; late Roman senior officer.
Magistrianus: late Roman intelligence operative.
Malleolus: fire arrow; incendiary projectile.
Mandatum: command; order.
Manica: armprotector.
Manipularis: soldier serving in manipulus; heavy infantry soldier.
Manipularius classis: naval soldier.
Manipulus: ‘handfull’; (1) unit consisting of two centuriae; (2) late Roman army squad.
Manuballista: ‘hand gun’; (1) light torsion gun; (2) crossbow.
Manubiae: spoils; plunder.
Manus: (1) hand; (2) force; violence; (3) force; military unit.
Manus ferrea: ‘iron hand’; harpoon.
Manus Germanorum: troop of Germans; early imperial horse guards.
Martia: ‘Martian’; ie dedicated to Mars, the god of war.
Martiobarbulus: lead weighted dart.
Matara: Celtic javelin.
Matricula: records.
Mattiarius: spearman; javelineer.
Medicus: medical orderly; doctor.
Medicus castrorum: doctor of the camp.
Medicus chirurgus: surgeon.
Medicus duplicarius: NCO on double pay in the medical service.
Medicus ordinarius: medical officer.
Medicus pecuarius: animal vet.
Mensor: surveyor.
Miles: soldier.
Miles classiarius: fleet soldier.
Miles classis: fleet soldier.
Miles cohortis: soldier belonging to a cohort.
Miles gloriosus: ‘glorious soldier’; comic braggart soldier character.
Miles gregarius: private; common soldier.
Miles gregalis: private; common soldier.
Miles legionis: soldier belonging to a legion; legionary.
Miles medicus: medical orderly; army doctor.
Miles missicius: discharged soldier.
Milex: soldier.
Militaris: military.
Militaris cibus: military food.
Militia: equestrian term of military service.
Militia armata: armed military service; as opposed to service in the late Roman civil service.
Militia equestris: equestrian officer post.
Militiae mutatio: transfer to another branch of the armed forces.
Militia officialis: the civil service, manned in Roman times by predominantly military personel.
Militiae petitor: ‘petitioner for service’; equestrian requesting posting as an officer.
Militia prima: first stint of equestrian military service involving command of an auxiliary cohors.
Militia quarta: fourth military posting in equestrian military career involving command of an elite ala milliaria.
Militia secunda: second term of equestrian military service; generally this involved a post as tribunus either in a legion or an auxiliary unit, though for a limited period this involved command of an ala, an auxiliary cavalry regiment.
Militia tertia: third tour of duty for equestrian officers involving command of an auxiliary fivehundred strong cavalry regiment, though for a short while a legionary or auxiliary tribunate was given as the third posting.
Militia provincialis: provincial army.
Militia urbana: ‘city troops’; the forces stationed at Rome itself.
Mille passus: ‘thousand paces’; mile; the Roman mile was 5000 feet of either 294mm or 332mm giving a length of 1480 m to 1660 m.
Milliaria: a thousand strong.
Minister bello: logistical officer.
Minotaurus: human headed bull standard which was one of the original five legionary standards in the republican army.
Miscellum: bronze table listing soldiers who had served their time.
Missicius: retired veteran.
Missile: projectile.
Pilum missile: throwing spear.
Missio: release from service.
Missio agraria: discharge with grant of land.
Missio causaria: honourable discharge on medical grounds.
Missio honesta: honourable discharge.
Missio ignominiosa: dishonourable discharge.
Missio nummaria: discharge with grant of money.
Missus: discharged veteran.
Missus ante tempus: veteran discharged before his time.
Modiolus: catapult washer.
Mucro: sword point; tip.
Mulio: mule driver.
Mulus: mule.
Mulus Marianus: ‘Marius’s mule’; nickname for heavily laden legionary.
Munerum indictio: punitive fatigue duty.
Munifex: soldier without exemptions from duty.
Munitio: fortification.
Munus: fatigue duty.
Murcus: potential recruit who has cut off his thumb to escape military service.
Murus: wall.
Murus caespiticius: turf wall.
Murus Gallicus: ‘Gallic wall’; stone wall with a skeleton of stout wooden beams to lessen the impact of battering rams.
Muscularius: ‘shellfish man’; late Roman marine.
Musculus: ‘shellfish’; type of boat.


Natalis aquilae: birthday of the eagle; military holiday.
Natio: ‘nation’; barbarian auxiliary force.
Naupegus: ship’s carpenter.
Nauphylax: ship’s guard.
Navis: ship.
Navis longa: ‘longship’; warship.
Navis oneraria: transport vessel.
Navis praetoria: flag ship.
Navis speculatoria: scouting ship.
Nauta: sailor.
Nauarchus: ship’s captain; naval officer.
Nauclarius: late Roman marine.
Nobiscum Deus: ‘God with us’; late Roman/Byzantine battle cry.
Nomen Latinum: ‘Latin name’; league of Latin allies.
Notae: ‘symbols’; short hand writing.
Notarius: secretary.
Numerarius: administrative official; clerk.
Numerus: military unit.
Numerus collatus: provisional unit.
Numerus peregrinorum: provisional unit of soldiers based at the castra peregrina at Rome.
Numerus statorum praetorianorum: unit of praetorian military police.


Obsidio: siege.
Ocrea: greave.
Officialis: member of administrative staff.
Officina: workshop.
Officium: (1) staff; (2) office.
Officium rationum: accounting office.
Onager: ‘wild ass’; torsion gun.
Opera vacans: soldier exempt from fatigue duty; first century AD term for the type of soldier called an immunis from the second century AD on.
Oppidum: fortified town.
Oppugnatio: assault.
Optimas: (1) noble, war lord; (2) Byzantine horse guard.
Optimates: Byzantine elite cavalry force.
Optime Maxime, conserva numerus omnium militantium: Best and Greatest, protect the collective of all serving soldiers; motto used on military equipment..
Optio: ‘chosen one’; (1) NCO; (2) private with special responsibilities.
Optio ab actis urbi: chosen man on administrative staff of the praefectus urbi.
Optio ad carcerem: chosen man on prison duty.
Optio ad spem ordinis: NCO selected for promotion to centurionate.
Optio candidatus: NCO singled out for promotion to rank of centurio.
Optio carceris: NCO in charge of the prison cells.
Optio centuriae: ‘chosen men of the company’; NCO serving as rearrank officer of a centuria, in the imperial army classed as a duplicarius, a NCO on double basic pay.
Optio centurionis: ‘chosen man of the centurion’; NCO serving as rearrank officer of a centuria.
Optio custodiarum: optio in charge of guard posts.
Optio draconarius: chosen man among the dragon bearers; late Roman senior standardbearer.
Optio equitum: NCO of the legionary or praetorian horsemen.
Optio fabricae: ‘chosen man of the workshop’; soldier or NCO in charge of a work shop.
Optio navaliorum: ‘chosen man of the wharfs’; NCO or specialist soldier in charge of wharfs.
Optio praetorii: ‘chosen man of the HQ’; specialist soldier or NCO attached to headquarters.
Optio principalis: NCO; not all optiones were noncommissioned officers, called principales from the second century on.
Optio signiferorum: ‘chosen man of the standardbearers’; senior standard bearer.
Optio speculatorum: ‘chosen man of the scouts’; NCO of elite cavalry bodyguards.
Optio spei: ‘chosen man with hope’; NCO selected for promotion to centurionate.
Optio statorum: NCO of military constabulary.
Optio tribuni: ‘chosen man of the tribune’; assistant to tribune.
Optio tubicinum: ‘chosen man of the trumpeteers’; senior musician.
Optio valetudinarii: ‘chosen man of the hospital’; orderly in charge of hospital.
Opus: work; job; task.
Ordinarius: centurion, originally one in charge of an ordo or unit.
Ordinatus: centurion.
Ordinatus princeps: centurion in charge of unit administration.
Ordinatio: (1) battle deployment; (2) commissioning as centurio.
Ordo: (1) battle line; (2) military unit; (3) post of centurio.
Ordo equester: the equestrian order: originally the class of wealthy citizens from which the cavalry was recruited, later the class from which many senior officers were drawn.
Origo: origin.
Origo castris: ‘born in the camp’; soldier originating from civilian settlement adjacent to an army base.
Otium castrorum: time off-duty.
Ovatio: triumphal entry for victorious commander.


Pabulatio: collection of fodder.
Paenula: cloak.
Palatinus: soldier belonging to late Roman field army.
Paludamentum: officers’ cloak.
Palus: stake used as target for weapons training.
Panis militaris: military bread.
Panoplia: armour.
Papilio: ‘butterfly’; tent.
Parazonium: sword carried by senior officers.
Parma: usually round buckler.
Parma equestris: cavalry shield.
Parmula: small round shield.
Pectorale: body armour.
Pecuarius: soldier attending to live stock.
Pedatura: infantry.
Pedes: foot soldier.
Pedes singularis: auxiliary infantry guardsman.
Peditatus: infantry.
Pellis: animal skin.
Peregrinus: (1) freeborn provincial without Roman citizenship; (2) soldier attached to castra peregrina.
Perfuga: turncoat.
Pes: foot; length unit of either 294 mm or 332 mm.
Petitor: equstrian requesting military posting.
Phalangarius: foot soldier trained in Macedonian phalanx tactics.
Phalarica: spear.
Phalera: decorative disc.
Phalerae: set of discs used as military decorations.
Pharetra: quiver.
Pia: dutiful.
Pilanus: equivalent for triarius.
Pilleus Pannonicus: ‘Pannonian cap’; late Roman military cap.
Pilum: heavy javelin with long metal shank.
Pilum murale: ‘wall javelin’; term nowadays often incorrectly used to designate pallisade stakes.
Pilum praepilatum: training weapon tipped with a ball to prevent injury.
Pilus: equivalent for triarius.
Pilus posterior: deputy to pilus prior.
Pilus prior: centurion commanding a manipulus of pili.
Pitulus: drummer; used on ships to set the pace for the rowers.
Planata: flat shield.
Plumbata: lead weighted dart.
Pluteus: protective screen.
Pomerium: sacred boundary of the city of Rome within which the wearing of war gear was prohibited.
Popanum: republican era cavalry shield shaped like a sacrifical cake.
Populus: ‘people’; part of the population with military service obligations, the people-in-arms.
Populus Romanus: ‘the Roman people’; Roman citizen body with service obligations.
Porta: gate.
Porta decumana: gate opposite porta praetoria, originally near the spot where the tenth manipuli of an army were camped.
Porta praetoria: gate facing the enemy.
Porta principalis dextra: right side gate.
Porta principalis sinistra: left side gate.
Postsignanus: soldier fighting behind the standards; legionary heavy infantry soldier.
Praeco: herald.
Praeda: spoils; plunder.
Praefectus: ‘someone put at the front’; senior officer.
Praefectus alae: commander of a cavalry regiment.
Praefectus castrorum: camp commandant.
Praefectus cohortis: commander of a cohors.
Praefectus classis: fleet commander.
Praefectus equitatus: cavalry commander.
Praefectus equitum: cavalry commander.
Praefectus fabrum: officer in charge of artisans.
Praefectus legionis: equestrian legionary commander.
Praefectus legionis agens vice legati: ‘prefect of the legion acting in place of the legate’; equestrian acting legionary commander.
Praefectus praetorio: ‘commander at the HQ’; equestrian commander of cohortes praetoriae.
Praefectus ripae: officer in charge of stretch of river bank.
Praefectus semestris: auxiliary commander appointed for limited tour of six months.
Praefectus sociorum: Roman officer appointed to a command function in an ala sociorum.
Praefectus statorum: officer in charge of military constabulary.
Praefectus tironum: officer in charge of recruits.
Praefectus urbanus: city prefect.
Praefectus vigilum: commander of the vigiles.
Praemia: discharge benefits.
Praemia militiae: discharge benefits.
Praenomen imperatoris: first name of the emperor; all emperors carried Imperator, Commander-in-chief, as their praenomen.
Praepositus: ‘someone placed at the front’; commander.
Praepositus copiarum: supply offical.
Praepositus horrei: official in charge of the granary.
Praepositus kampi: ‘commander of the training ground’; instructor.
Praeses: equestrian provincial governor.
Praesidium: military outpost; fort.
Praetensio: military post; fort.
Praetensione colligare: to fortify; to strengthen with military posts.
Praetentura: forward part of the camp in front of the praetorium.
Praetor: ‘someone who walks at the front’; (1) senior Roman magistrate; during republic commander of minor military forces; (2) commander of allied contingent.
Praetorianus: soldier belonging to a cohors praetoria.
Praetorium: commander’s living quarters; HQ.
Praeventor: late Roman skirmisher.
Prata legionis: fields or meadows reserved for the use of the legion.
Pretium annonae: ration allowance.
Pridianum: ‘first day report’; monthly or yearly strength report.
Primanus: soldier belonging to legio I.
Primicerius: late Roman officer; senior centurion.
Primipilaris: former primus pilus.
Primiscrinius: senior administrator.
Primus ordo: ‘first officer’; centurion of the first cohort, whose officers outranked the other centuriones of the legion.
Primus pilus: ‘first spearman’; highest ranking legionary centurio.
Primus pilus bis: ‘first spearman for the second time’; senior centurion serving a second stint.
Primus pilus iterum: centurion serving second term as primus pilus.
Princeps: ‘leader’; (1) legionary heavy infantry soldier; (2) centurion in command of unit or administrative office.
Princeps castrorum: centurion in charge of a camp’s administrative staff.
Princeps ordinarius vexillationis: centurion in command of a detachment.
Princeps peregrinorum: ‘commander of the foreigners’; centurio in charge of troops in the castra peregrina.
Princeps posterior: deputy to princeps prior.
Princeps praetorii: centurion attached to headquarters.
Princeps prior: centurion commanding a manipulus of principes.
Principalis: NCO.
Principia: HQ building.
Privatus: citizen without official capacity.
Privatus cum imperio: citizen granted extraordinary powers without holding office as magistrate.
Privilegium: privilege, perk.
Probatio: examination.
Probatoria: enrolment document.
Probatus: recruit deemed fit for service.
Procinctus: military readiness.
Proconsul: former consul exercising similar imperium after his term of office; provincial governor.
Procurator: official of the emperor’s administration.
Procursator: advanced skirmisher.
Proditor: traitor.
Proelium: combat.
Proletarius: Roman citizen unable to meet property requirements for military service.
Propagator imperii: extender of the empire.
Propraetor: former praetor exercising similar imperium after his term of office; provincial governor.
Propugnator: ‘frontrank fighter’;(1) elite soldier;(2) marine.
Proreta: assistant helmsman.
Protector: (1) bodyguard; (2) staff officer.
Protector divini lateris: late Roman staff officer.
Protector domesticus: ‘household bodyguard’; late Roman staff officer.
Provincia: province; area of responsibility.
Provincia inermis: ‘unarmed province’; province without a permanent legionary garrison.
Pugio: dagger.
Pugna: fight; battle.
Pugnator: fighter; warrior.
Punctim ferire: to stab (with a sword).


Quadrata: rectangular shield.
Quadrieris: warship with four rowers on two levels.
Quadriga falcata: scythed chariot.
Quaestionarius: interrogator; torturer.
Quaestor: (1) state official with financial responsibilities; (2) soldier of financial administrative department.
Quarta militia: fourth equestrian military post involving command of an ala milliaria.
Qui ordines sequentur: ‘the ones who follow the centurions’; the NCO’s.
‘Quincunx’: modern term for the chequerboard manipular battle order resembling the five dots on dice; note that this was NOT a term used by the ancient Romans for this type of battle deployment.
Quingenaria: five hundred strong.
Quinquatria: religious festival that opened campaigning season.
Quinqueremis: ‘fiver’; quinquereme; ship with five rowers on either two or three levels.


Rebellis: rebel; insurgent.
Receptio: ‘reception’; incorporation into the empire of barbarians across the borders.
Remansor: soldier left in camp.
Remex: oarsman.
Remus: oar.
Renuntium: report.
Retentura: rear part of a camp behind the praetorium.
Retentus: soldier kept in service after serving required term.
Ripa: river bank.
Riparius: soldier belonging to late Roman frontier unit.
Rorarius: ‘attacker’; legionary skirmisher attached to units of triarii.
Rostrum: ship’s beak or ram.
Rudis: wooden practice sword.
Rufulus: officer picked by a commander. Named after the consul Rutilius Rufus.
Rumpia: slashing blade; falchion.


Saccus undecimus: ‘eleventh bag’; military burial fund.
Sacer: ‘sacred’; belonging to the emperor.
Sacer comitatus: ‘sacred following’; imperial field army.
Sacramentum: military oath.
Sagitta: arrow.
Sagitta ballistaria: catapult bolt.
Sagittarius: (1) archer; (2) arrow-maker.
Sagma: pack saddle.
Sagmarius: pack animal driver.
Sagum: cloak.
Sagularis: camp road running along the inside of the rampart.
Sagulum: cloak.
Salararius: soldier enjoying special service conditions; mercenary.
Salaratus: soldier enjoying special service conditions; mercenary.
Salgamum: extortion of goods or money, a common military practice.
Sambuca: covered assault ladder.
Sarcina: marching pack.
Scala: ladder.
Scamnum: partition of military camp.
Scamnum tribunorum: part of the camp used to house the tribuni.
Scapha: scouting vessel.
Schola: (1) social club; (2) military unit.
Schola palatina: late Roman mounted imperial guard unit.
Schola principalium: NCO social club.
Scholarius: late Roman horse guard trooper.
Scola: (1) social club; (2) military unit.
Scola agentum in rebus: late Roman military intelligence unit.
Scopae: practice target.
Scordiscus militaris: saddle.
Scorpio: ‘scorpion’; (1) torsion gun; (2) artilleryman.
Scorpionarius: artilleryman.
Scriba: writer; clerk.
Scrinia: administrative office.
Scriniarius: administrative official; clerk.
Scurra: late Roman guardsman.
Scutarius: ‘shieldbearer’; (1) soldier equipped with large shield; (2) guardsman.
Scutatus: soldier equipped with larger sized shield.
Scutum: shield.
Scutum publicum: government issue shield.
Secutor: bodyguard; batman.
Semaforus: standardbearer.
Semispatha: short sword.
Semissalis: late Roman junior NCO.
Semivocale: musical signal.
Senator: (1) senator; member of Roman senate; (2) late Roman senior officer in the centurionate.
Seniores: ‘veterans’; late Roman unit that detached men to create the core of a Iuniores unit.
Sermo castrensis: ‘camp language’; military slang.
Serra: ‘saw’; serrated battle formation.
Sesquiplicarius: NCO on pay and a half.
Signa inferre: ‘to move the standards forward’; to advance, to attack.
Signaculum: lead identification disc worn by recruits.
Signatus: soldier that has been accepted for service.
Signifer: standardbearer.
Signifer princeps: senior standard bearer.
Signifer turmae: squadron standardbearer.
Signum: (1) standard; (2) identification tattoo worn by soldiers.
Simplaris: soldier on basic pay.
Singularis: ‘singled out’, picked soldier.
Socii: allies.
Socii navales: naval allies.
Socii Nominis Latini: ‘allies of the Latin name’; Latin league allies.
Socius: ally.
Solliferreum: javelin made wholly of iron.
Spatha: sword; often, but by no means invariably a sword with a long blade.
Speculator: (1) scout/spy; (2) mounted legionary or praetorian serving as bodyguard and executioner.
Speculator Augusti: cavalryman attached to a praetorian cohort.
Spiculum: javelin; late Roman pilum successor.
Spina: reinforcing spine on shield.
Spolia: spoils; plunder.
Spolia opima: the plundered weapons and equipment of a conquered enemy champion or commander. To dedicate the spolia opima brought great prestige.
Spongia: Samnite triple disc body armour.
SPQR: acronym for Senatus PopulusQue Romanus; the senate and people of Rome.
Statio: (1) military post; (2) tour of duty.
Statio expleta: completed tour of duty.
Statio frumentariorum: post of military intelligence service.
Statio vigilum: ‘watch post’; police post annex fire department station.
Stationarius: soldier stationed on outpost.
Stator: military policeman.
Stellatura: deduction made by officer from a soldier’s allowance.
Stimulus: ‘goad’; type of defensive trap.
Stipendarius: soldier serving for pay.
Stipendiosus: soldier serving for pay.
Stipendium: (1) regular soldier’s pay; (2) year of military service.
Stipendium centurionicum: year of service as centurion.
Strator: soldier in charge of horse supply to the army.
Stratura: cavalry detachment.
Striga: pair of barracks housing a manipulus.
Sub aquila: ‘under the eagle’; on active duty.
Sub cura: under the care of.
Sub signis: ‘under the standards’; in military service.
Sub vexillo: ‘under the flag’; veteran duty with lighter service.
Sub iugum missus: POW who passed under the yoke.
Subarmalis: (1) arming doublet; (2) type of spear, possibly a short javelin.
Suboptio: ‘under optio‘; naval soldier subordinate to an optio.
Subpraefectus: subordinate commander.
Subsidia: supporting troops; auxiliaries.
Subsignanus miles: soldier on active duty.
Sudis: stake.
Summus curator: senior administrator in charge of supply.
Suovetaurilia: sacrifice of a pig, sheep and bull.
Symmacharis: ally; auxiliary.
Symphoniacus: flute player; musician indicating the rowing speed on smaller war ships.


Tablifer: guard cavalry standard bearer.
Tabula ansata: winged board.
Tabularium: administrative department.
Tabularium equitum: administrative office of the legionary cavalry.
Taurus: bull, one of the five original standards of the legion.
Tector: cavalry trooper equipped with large shield.
Tegimentum: protective garment worn over armour.
Tegimentum scuti: protective shield cover.
Telum: missile.
Terebra: siege machine for drilling holes in walls.
Territorium legionis: territory of the legion.
Tertius ordo: ‘third officer’; (1) centurion of the third cohort of a legion; (2) naval officer of uncertain rank.
Tessera: writing tablet.
Tesserarius: NCO in charge of the watchword.
Testamentum militare: military will; soldiers were granted the right to make a will that did not have to conform to all formal legal requirements.
Testudo: tortoise formation.
Thoracomachus: padded armour.
Tibiale: (1) legging; (2) greave.
Tiro: recruit.
Tirocinium: recruit’s first campaign.
Titulum: stretch of wall and ditch in front of a marching camp gate.
Tolleno: siege crane.
Tormentum: torsion gun.
Torques: neck ornament awarded as military decoration.
Trabes: signalling device.
Tragularius: (1) javelineer; (2) archer.
Tragulum: missile.
Translatio: transfer.
Translatus: transferred soldier.
Transvectio equitum: annual parade in Rome by the equites Romani at which their horses and equipment were inspected.
Trecenarius: senior praetorian or legionary centurion of somewhat unclear status.
Tres militiae: the three postings of a full equestrian military career: (1) praefectus cohortis (2) tribunus angusticlavius / tribunus cohortis (3) praefectus alae.
Triarius: ‘third liner’; heavy legionary infantry soldier.
Triarius ordo: centurion of the triarii or pili.
Triarius prior: senior centurion of a manipulus of the triarii.
Triboli: caltrops.
Tribunal: raised platform in front of the HQ used for addressing the troops or administring justice.
Tribunus: senior officer.
Tribunus angusticlavius: ‘narrow striped officer’; equestrian legionary officer.
Tribunus cohortis: commander of auxiliary unit.
Tribunus cohortis urbanae: urban cohort commander.
Tribunus comitiatus: officer elected as tribunus militum by the comitia.
Tribunus laticlavius: ‘broadstriped officer’; senatorial legionary officer.
Tribunus liburnarum: tribune in charge of ships.
Tribunus militum: ‘tribune of the soldiers’; senior legionary officer.
Tribunus militum a populo: ‘trubune of the soldiers by the people’; senior legionary officer appointed by popular assembly.
Tribunus Rufulus: ‘tribune of Rufus’; officer picked by the commander.
Tribunus sexmestris: ‘six month tribune’; tribune serving a tour of duty of only six months; note that there is absolutely no evidence at all to identify this officer as commander of the legionary cavalry as sometimes stated in modern literature.
Tribunus vacans: late Roman unassigned tribune; staff officer.
Trierarchus: naval officer; ship’s captain, not necessarily of a trireme.
Triremis: trireme; galley with single rowers on three levels.
Triumphalia ornamenta: the insignia of a triumphator.
Triumphator: victorious army commander granted the right of holidng a triumphus.
Triumphus: triumphal entry into the city of Rome; highest honour bestowed on victorious commander.
Tuba: trumpet.
Tubicen: trumpeter.
Tubicen princeps: senior trumpeter.
Tumultuarius: irregular auxiliary.
Tumultus: mobilisation.
Tunica: tunic.
Tunica palmata: gold embroidered purple garment worn by triumphator.
Turarius: sacrificial official.
Turma: cavalry unit.
Turmalis: soldier belonging to a turma; trooper.
Turris: tower.
Turris ambulatoria: mobile siege tower.
Turritus: turreted.


Ululatus: battle cry.
Ulpia: founded or reconstituted by emperor Marcus Ulpius Traianus.
Umbo: shieldboss.
Umerale: shoulder armour.
Urbanicianus: ‘city soldier’; soldier belonging to the cohortes urbanae.
Usurpatio: rebellion.
Usurpator: rebel intent on seizing imperial power.
Utere felix: use with luck.


Vacatio munerum: exemption from fatigue duty.
Valetudinarium: hospital.
Vallum: wall.
Vehiculatio: imperial post system.
Vehiculum: cart; carriage.
Veles: ‘cloak wearer’; republican legionary skirmisher.
Venator: ‘hunter’; skirmisher.
Veredarius: courier.
Vericulum: small javelin.
Verutum: javelin.
Vestimentum: clothing.
Veteranus: veteran; discharged soldier.
Veterinarius: vet; animal doctor.
Vexillarius: (1) standardbearer; (2) soldier serving in a vexillatio.
Vexillatio: detachment; provisional unit.
Vexillatio comitatensis: late Roman field army cavalry unit.
Vexillatio palatina: late Roman field army cavalry unit.
Vexillifer: standardbearer.
Vexillum: standard with a flag on a crossbar.
Vexillum veteranorum: unit of veterans awaiting discharge.
Via: road.
Via decumana: camp road leading to rear gate.
Via praetoria: camp road leading to porta praetoria.
Via quintana: camp road passing the encampment of the fifth manipuli; road dividing praetentura in half.
Via sagularis: road running along the inside of a wall.
Viaticum: ‘travelling money’ ; pay for recruit’s initial training period.
Viator: soldier on road patrol duty.
Vicarius: replacement; (1) recruit provided by conscript unwilling to serve in person; (2) lieutenant.
Victimarius: soldier in charge of sacrifical animals.
Victoria: victory.
Victrix: victorious.
Vicus: civilian settlement attached to military base.
Vigilia: watch.
Vigilis: watchman; member of the Roman fire brigade annex police force.
Vinea: protective screen.
Vindex: ‘avenger’; title awarded to loyal units in civil war.
Vir militaris: ‘military man’; equestrian or senator following a military career.
Virtus: manliness; courage; virtue.
Vis: violence; force.
Vitis: vine stick used as centurion’s badge of office.
Vocale: verbal command.
Volones: freed slave volunteers.
Voluntarius: volunteer.
Vulnus: wound.

Special thanks to Sander van Dorst, as most work here is by him.

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