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Borrowed from Latin digitus. Doublet of digit.


digitus (plural digiti)

  1. (historical) An Ancient Roman unit of length, approximately 0.73 inches.


digitus manūs (digit of the hand)

Alternative forms[edit]


From Proto-Italic *digitos, from Proto-Indo-European *deyǵ- (to show, point out, pronounce solemnly), variant of the root *deyḱ- that also gave Latin dīcō (I say, speak talk) and English toe. Fingers were thus "pointers, indicators". Digit sense comes from the fact that they were used for counting up to ten.

Indo-European cognates include Sanskrit दिशति (diśáti, to show, point out), Ancient Greek δείκνυμι (deíknumi, to show), δίκη (díkē, manner, custom), Old English tǣċan (to show, point out) (English teach) and tācen (English token).

Compare similar semantic shift in English in the cognate word teacher (forefinger, index finger).



digitus m (genitive digitī); second declension

  1. a finger, toe
  2. (mathematics) a digit
  3. an inch (in ancient times, a 16th part of a Roman foot)
  4. a twig


Second-declension noun.

Case Singular Plural
Nominative digitus digitī
Genitive digitī digitōrum
Dative digitō digitīs
Accusative digitum digitōs
Ablative digitō digitīs
Vocative digite digitī
  • Note: the genitive plural digitum is attested in Vitruvius and in a fragment of Varro (quoted by the grammarian Charisius).

Derived terms[edit]



  • digitus”, in Charlton T. Lewis and Charles Short (1879) A Latin Dictionary, Oxford: Clarendon Press
  • digitus”, in Charlton T. Lewis (1891) An Elementary Latin Dictionary, New York: Harper & Brothers
  • digitus 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)
  • digitus in Gaffiot, Félix (1934) Dictionnaire illustré latin-français, Hachette
  • Carl Meißner; Henry William Auden (1894) Latin Phrase-Book[1], London: Macmillan and Co.
    • to touch with the fingertips: extremis digitis aliquid attingere
  • digitus”, in Harry Thurston Peck, editor (1898) Harper's Dictionary of Classical Antiquities, New York: Harper & Brothers
  • digitus”, in William Smith et al., editor (1890) A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, London: William Wayte. G. E. Marindin

Middle English[edit]



  1. Alternative form of digit