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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 proposed is Ancient Greek καβάλλης ‎(kabállēs, nag), in turn possibly a borrowing from a Balkan, Anatolian, or north-east European language. Compare Russian кобыла ‎(kobyla), and Serbo-Croatian кобила/kobila ‎(mare).



caballus m ‎(genitive caballī); second declension

  1. 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]



  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
  • Delamarre, X. & Lambert, P. -Y. (2003). Dictionnaire de la langue gauloise : Une approche linguistique du vieux-celtique continental (2nd ed.). Paris: Errance. ISBN

978 2 87772 369 5, ISBN 2 87772 237 6