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Disputed. Generally believed[1] to be from Gaulish/Transalpine Gaulish caballos.[2]. This term is cognate to Welsh ceffyl,[3][1] Manx cabbyl,[1] Scottish Gaelic and Irish capall.[1]

Also compared is Ancient Greek καβάλλης (kabállēs, nag), in turn possibly a borrowing from a Balkan, Anatolian, or northeast European language. Compare Turkish kaval, adjunct of at (horse), Proto-Slavic *kobýla.



caballus m (genitive caballī); second declension

  1. (Late Latin) horse; nag
  2. pack-horse, jade, hack

Usage notes[edit]

  • In Classical Latin, the word equus is used for a horse, and caballus is used only by poets. It is only later, in Vulgar and Late Latin, that caballus appears in prose.


Second declension.

Case Singular Plural
nominative caballus caballī
genitive caballī caballōrum
dative caballō caballīs
accusative caballum caballōs
ablative caballō caballīs
vocative caballe caballī


Derived terms[edit]



  • caballus in Charlton T. Lewis and Charles Short (1879) A Latin Dictionary, Oxford: Clarendon Press
  • caballus in Charlton T. Lewis (1891) An Elementary Latin Dictionary, New York: Harper & Brothers
  • du Cange, Charles (1883), “caballus”, in G. A. Louis Henschel, Pierre Carpentier, Léopold Favre, editors, Glossarium Mediæ et Infimæ Latinitatis (in Latin), Niort: L. Favre
  • caballus in Gaffiot, Félix (1934) Dictionnaire Illustré Latin-Français [Illustrated Latin-French Dictionary], Hachette
  • Delamarre, X; Lambert, P. -Y. (2003) Dictionnaire de la langue gauloise. Une approche linguistique du vieux-celtique continental, 2nd edition, Paris: Errance, ↑ISBN
  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Origins, by Eric Partridge, page 85
  2. ^ Delamare 2003 p.96
  3. ^ The Origin of Language and Nations, by Rowland Jones page 151