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From Proto-Italic *habēō or *haβēō, the latter possibly from Proto-Indo-European *gʰh₁bʰ- (to grab, to take).

Oscan and Umbrian have cognate forms with -b-[1], which must reflect an original -b- as Proto-Italic -β- (and therefore PIE -bʰ-) becomes -f- in those languages. On the other hand, b is a rare phoneme in PIE, whose status is still disputed. Thus, the exact origin of this word is not clear.



present active habeō, present infinitive habēre, perfect active habuī, supine habitum

  1. I have, hold
    Spero ut pacem habeant semper.
    I hope that they may always have peace.
    • 63 BCE, Cicero, Catiline Orations (Latin text and English translations here)
      O di immortales, ubinam gentium sumus? Quam rem publicam habemus? In qua urbe vivimus?.
      O ye immortal gods, where on earth are we? What is the government we have? In what city are we living?
  2. I own
  3. I possess
    Habet annos viginti.
    He is twenty years old.
    Literally: He has twenty years
    • Sallustius, Bellum Catalinae
      Nam divitiarum et formae gloria fluxa atque fragilis est, virtus clara aeternaque habetur.
      For the glory of wealth and beauty is fleeting and perishable; that of the mind is illustrious and possessed forever.
  4. I retain, maintain
  5. I conduct, preside over
  6. I regard, consider or account a person or thing as something
    Diemque cladis quotannis maestum habuerit ac lugubrem.
    And each year he considered the day of the disaster gloomy and mournful
  7. I accept, bear, endure

Usage notes[edit]

  • Another way of denoting ownership besides using the verb habeō is using the possessor in the dative case (e.g. mihi (to me), tibi (to you), nōbīs (to us)) with the copula esse (to be), literally asking whether the item in question "is to you". For example:
    Habēsne epistolas? - Do you have the letters?
    Suntne tibi epistolae? - Do you have the letters?
  • And to answer one could say:
    Sic est, habeo epistolas. - Yes, I have the letters.
    Etiam, sunt mihi epistolae. - Yes, I have the letters.


Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]



  1. ^ Michiel de Vaan (2008), Etymological Dictionary of Latin and the other Italic Languages, Leiden, Boston: Brill Academic Publishers