Romanian lexis

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The lexis of the Romanian language (or Daco-Romanian), a Romance language, has changed over the centuries as the language evolved from Vulgar Latin, to Proto-Romanian, to medieval, modern and contemporary Romanian.


Romanian has inherited a number of about 2000 lexical items from its ancestral language, Latin. These comprise most basic concepts of society, for example:

  • om "human" (< Latin homo)
  • muiere "wife" (< Latin mulier)
  • fiu "son" (< Latin filius)
  • popor "folk" (< Latin populus)

Many words have not only changed their shape, but also their meaning during their evolution from Latin to Romanian. Such are:

  • bărbat "man" (< Latin barbatus "bearded")
  • femeie "woman" (< Latin familia "people belonging to a household")
  • inimă "heart" (< Latin anima "soul")
  • soț "husband" (< Latin socius "fellow")

Medieval Romanian[edit]

By the later Middle Ages, a great number of Slavic loanwords had already entered Romanian.

Among the basic Slavic loanwords are:

  • ceas clock
  • citi to read
  • crai king
  • curvă whore
  • da yes (the word may be derived from the Latin word "ita" meaning "of course" or "thus")
  • drag dear
  • dragoste love
  • duh spirit, ghost
  • haină shirt
  • iubi to love
  • izvor source
  • mândru proud
  • muncă work
  • noroc luck
  • opri stop
  • porni start
  • praf dust
  • prieten friend
  • prost stupid; simple
  • rând row; order
  • sărac poor
  • sfânt holy
  • sfert quarter
  • slanină bacon
  • smântână sour cream
  • sută hundred
  • târg market
  • tigaie pan
  • trup body
  • veac century
  • vreme weather; time
  • zid wall

(see also Slavic influence on Romanian)

Modern Romanian reforms[edit]

In the 19th century, the Romanian lexis was severely re-romanized by importing words from Latin, Italian, and to the greatest extent, French. Many of these words served to replace Slavic words which were thought inappropriate by many Romanian patriots of that time. Yet they did not succeed in every case. For instance, amic (from Latin amicus) was created to replace prieten, the common Romanian word for "friend", which is of Slavic origin. However, prieten is still widely used. Words which were more successful:

  • deja "already" (from French déjà)
  • jena "disturb" (from French gener)
  • medic "physician" (from Latin medicus)
  • servi "serve" (from French or Italian)
  • ziar "newspapers" (from Italian)

Contemporary Romanian[edit]

See also[edit]