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From Proto-Italic *flektō, of uncertain ultimate origin, lacking any solid Indo-European cognates. Possible Proto-Indo-European predecessors include *bʰleK-, *dʰleK-, and *gʷʰleK-.

Matasović has connected flectō with Proto-Slavic *gleznъ (ankle), reconstructing Proto-Indo-European *gʷʰleǵʰ- to account for both.[1]



flectō (present infinitive flectere, perfect active flexī, supine flexum); third conjugation

  1. to bend, curve or bow
  2. to deviate, distract
    Synonyms: arceō, prōpulsō, dīvertō, dēclīnō, āvertō, āspernor, dēmoveō, dēflectō, trānsvertō
  3. to turn or curl
    • 29 BCE – 19 BCE, Virgil, Aeneid 1.155-156:
      [...] genitor caelōque invectus apertō
      flectit equōs currūque volāns dat lōra secundō.
      [...] Father [Neptune], [now] riding under a clear sky, turns [his] team and gives rein to [his] swift-following chariot [as it] flies.
  4. (figuratively) to persuade, prevail upon, or soften
    Synonyms: persuādeō, convincō, trahō, perpellō, admoneō


   Conjugation of flectō (third conjugation)
indicative singular plural
first second third first second third
active present flectō flectis flectit flectimus flectitis flectunt
imperfect flectēbam flectēbās flectēbat flectēbāmus flectēbātis flectēbant
future flectam flectēs flectet flectēmus flectētis flectent
perfect flexī flexistī flexit fleximus flexistis flexērunt,
pluperfect flexeram flexerās flexerat flexerāmus flexerātis flexerant
future perfect flexerō flexeris flexerit flexerimus flexeritis flexerint
passive present flector flecteris,
flectitur flectimur flectiminī flectuntur
imperfect flectēbar flectēbāris,
flectēbātur flectēbāmur flectēbāminī flectēbantur
future flectar flectēris,
flectētur flectēmur flectēminī flectentur
perfect flexus + present active indicative of sum
pluperfect flexus + imperfect active indicative of sum
future perfect flexus + future active indicative of sum
subjunctive singular plural
first second third first second third
active present flectam flectās flectat flectāmus flectātis flectant
imperfect flecterem flecterēs flecteret flecterēmus flecterētis flecterent
perfect flexerim flexerīs flexerit flexerīmus flexerītis flexerint
pluperfect flexissem flexissēs flexisset flexissēmus flexissētis flexissent
passive present flectar flectāris,
flectātur flectāmur flectāminī flectantur
imperfect flecterer flecterēris,
flecterētur flecterēmur flecterēminī flecterentur
perfect flexus + present active subjunctive of sum
pluperfect flexus + imperfect active subjunctive of sum
imperative singular plural
first second third first second third
active present flecte flectite
future flectitō flectitō flectitōte flectuntō
passive present flectere flectiminī
future flectitor flectitor flectuntor
non-finite forms active passive
present perfect future present perfect future
infinitives flectere flexisse flexūrum esse flectī flexum esse flexum īrī
participles flectēns flexūrus flexus flectendus,
verbal nouns gerund supine
genitive dative accusative ablative accusative ablative
flectendī flectendō flectendum flectendō flexum flexū

Derived terms[edit]


  • Gallo-Romance:
    • Old French: fletir
    • Old Occitan: fletir
  • Italo-Romance:
    • ⇒ Central Italian: affiette (bend down) (Macerata)
    • Neapolitan: fiette (compel) (Abruzzo)
  • Vulgar Latin:
  • Ancient borrowings:
  • Later borrowings:


  1. ^ Matasović, Ranko (2017), “Latin presents in -t- and the etymologies of necto ‘to weave, bind’ and flecto ‘to bend, curve’”, in Pallas[1], issue 103, Presses Universitaires du Midi, →ISSN, →JSTOR, retrieved June 5, 2023, pages 37–43

Further reading[edit]

  • flecto”, in Charlton T. Lewis and Charles Short (1879) A Latin Dictionary, Oxford: Clarendon Press
  • flecto”, in Charlton T. Lewis (1891) An Elementary Latin Dictionary, New York: Harper & Brothers
  • flecto in Enrico Olivetti, editor (2003-2023) Dizionario Latino, Olivetti Media Communication
  • flecto in Gaffiot, Félix (1934) Dictionnaire illustré latin-français, Hachette
  • Carl Meißner; Henry William Auden (1894) Latin Phrase-Book[2], London: Macmillan and Co.
    • to make a person change his intention: animum alicuius or simply aliquem flectere
    • to deviate, change the direction: iter flectere, convertere, avertere