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See also: Linum, línum, and línům



From Proto-Italic *līnom, likely from Proto-Indo-European *līnom.

Cognates include Old English līne (line, rope, cord), Gothic 𐌻𐌴𐌹𐌽 (lein) and other derivatives of Proto-Germanic *līną, although Pokorny proposed it is a borrowing from Latin.

Although Greek λίνον (línon), Lithuanian linas, Russian лён (ljon) are sometimes listed as cognates, they actually derive from *lino- with a short /i/.

Celtic and Albanian words for linen probably derive from Latin, although Celtic languages retained possibly related cloth terms with a short /i/ (see *linnā).

Considering also the existence of a Latin root with a short /i/ and a /t/ (linteum), reconstruction of a common PIE protoform is impossible, and no similarly sounding terms are attested outside of Europe.

If such roots were borrowed from one or several non-IE languages, as proposed by Machek, locating the source is impossible because cultivation of linen was ubiquitous in the region since the Neolithic.

Alternatively, Fick proposed derivation as a passive past participle from Proto-Indo-European *lei- (to flow, pour) because flax is soaked in water during its retting.



līnum n (genitive līnī); second declension

  1. flax
  2. linen cloth; garment made of linen
  3. rope, line, string, thread, cord, cable
  4. net for hunting or fishing
  5. wick of a lamp
  6. sail


Second-declension noun (neuter).

Case Singular Plural
Nominative līnum līna
Genitive līnī līnōrum
Dative līnō līnīs
Accusative līnum līna
Ablative līnō līnīs
Vocative līnum līna


Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]



  • linum in Charlton T. Lewis and Charles Short (1879) A Latin Dictionary, Oxford: Clarendon Press
  • linum in Charlton T. Lewis (1891) An Elementary Latin Dictionary, New York: Harper & Brothers
  • linum in Charles du Fresne du Cange’s Glossarium Mediæ et Infimæ Latinitatis (augmented edition, 1883–1887)
  • linum in Gaffiot, Félix (1934) Dictionnaire Illustré Latin-Français, Hachette
  • Carl Meissner; Henry William Auden (1894) Latin Phrase-Book[1], London: Macmillan and Co.
    • to open a letter: epistulam solvere, aperire, resignare (of Romans also linum incīdere)
  • linum in Harry Thurston Peck, editor (1898) Harper's Dictionary of Classical Antiquities, New York: Harper & Brothers
  • De Vaan, Michiel (2008) , “līnum”, in Etymological Dictionary of Latin and the other Italic Languages (Leiden Indo-European Etymological Dictionary Series; 7), Leiden, Boston: Brill, →ISBN, page 344




linum (nominative plural linums)

  1. flax