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Borrowed from Latin cū̆stōs.


custos (plural custodes)

  1. (obsolete) A warden.
    • c. 1530, John Rastell, The Pastyme of People: The Cronycles of Dyuers Realmys, London,[1]
      [] they were commytted to prison & put out of theyr offyces & the Constable of the Towre made custos of the citye.
    • 1803, Robert Charles Dallas, The History of the Maroons, London: Longman and Rees, Volume 1, Letter 5, p. 148,[2]
      Mr. Tharp, the Custos of the parish, and several other gentlement, accompanied the corps.
  2. (Roman Catholicism) A monastic superior, who, under the general of his order, has the direction of all the religious houses of the same fraternity in a given district, called a custody of the order.
  3. (music, historical) In older forms of musical notation, an indication, at the end of a line of music, of the first note of the next line.

Derived terms[edit]





From Proto-Italic *kustots, further etymology unclear. The proposal that it is derived from Proto-Indo-European *(s)kewdʰ- (to cover, wrap, encase), from *(s)kewH- (to cover, hide) (whence Ancient Greek κεύθω (keúthō, to conceal), Old English hȳdan (to hide, conceal, preserve)) raises questions about the development of the medial /st/. Some etymologists consider /st/ to be the regular outcome in Latin of PIE *dʰ-t, based on aestās and aestus, a position which requires analyzing the /ss/ found in participle forms such as iussus and fossus as the result of analogy with forms built on stems ending in other dental consonants.[1] Alternatively, the first element has been suggested to be cognate to Proto-Germanic *huzdą (hidden treasure) and the second element a reduced form of Proto-Indo-European *sed- (to sit), as a compound *kusdʰo-sd-, though it is not clear if *-sdʰ- would be reflected as /st/ in Latin. On the other hand, Michiel de Vaan argues that, as the usual reflex of dental clusters in Latin is /ss/, it is better to analyze the /st/ of aestās and aestus as an analogical reformation, not as the regular outcome of *dʰ-t.[2] Therefore, de Vaan's viewpoint is that the /st/ in custos is unexplained and the etymology unknown.[3] More at English hoard.


  • (Classical) IPA(key): /ˈkuːs.toːs/, [ˈkuːs̠t̪oːs̠] or IPA(key): /ˈkus.toːs/, [ˈkʊs̠t̪oːs̠]
  • (Ecclesiastical) IPA(key): /ˈkus.tos/, [ˈkust̪os]
  • Note: vowel length uncertain due to unclear etymological and graphic evidence


cūstos or cŭstos m (genitive cū̆stōdis); third declension

  1. A guard, protector, watchman
    Synonym: appāritor
  2. A guardian, tutor
  3. A jailer
  4. A keeper, custodian
    Synonyms: dēfēnsor, vindex, praeses, appāritor


Third-declension noun.

Case Singular Plural
Nominative cū̆stōs cū̆stōdēs
Genitive cū̆stōdis cū̆stōdum
Dative cū̆stōdī cū̆stōdibus
Accusative cū̆stōdem cū̆stōdēs
Ablative cū̆stōde cū̆stōdibus
Vocative cū̆stōs cū̆stōdēs

Derived terms[edit]


  • Old French: costor (nominative form: costre, from a Gallo-Roman Latin refection custor, custorem of Classical Latin custos, custorem)
  • English: custos
  • Finnish: kustos
  • German: Kustos
  • Italian: custode


  • custos”, in Charlton T. Lewis and Charles Short (1879) A Latin Dictionary, Oxford: Clarendon Press
  • custos”, in Charlton T. Lewis (1891) An Elementary Latin Dictionary, New York: Harper & Brothers
  • custos in Charles du Fresne du Cange’s Glossarium Mediæ et Infimæ Latinitatis (augmented edition with additions by D. P. Carpenterius, Adelungius and others, edited by Léopold Favre, 1883–1887)
  • custos in Gaffiot, Félix (1934) Dictionnaire illustré latin-français, Hachette
  1. ^ Stuart-Smith, Jane (2004) Phonetics and Phonology: Sound Change in Italic (Oxford University Press), page 43; citing Leumann 1977: 168, Meiser 1998: 124
  2. ^ De Vaan, Michiel (2008) Etymological Dictionary of Latin and the other Italic Languages (Leiden Indo-European Etymological Dictionary Series; 7), Leiden, Boston: Brill, →ISBN, page 28
  3. ^ De Vaan, Michiel (2008) Etymological Dictionary of Latin and the other Italic Languages (Leiden Indo-European Etymological Dictionary Series; 7), Leiden, Boston: Brill, →ISBN, page 159




  1. plural of custo