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From Proto-Indo-European *sh₂kros ‎(sacred), from *seh₂k-, *sak- ‎(to sanctify, to make a treaty).



sacer m ‎(feminine sacra, neuter sacrum); first/second declension

  1. Sacred, holy, dedicated to a divinity, consecrated, hallowed (translating Greek ἱερός).
    • c. 254 BCE – 184 BCE, Plautus, Menaechmi V.5.38
      at ego te sacram coronam surrupuisse Iovi scio
      And I know that you stole the sacred crown of Jupiter.
  2. Devoted to a divinity for sacrifice, fated to destruction, forfeited, accursed.
    • 29 BCE – 19 BCE, Virgil, Aeneid III.56
      quid non mortalia pectora cogis / auri sacra fames
      Accursed hunger for gold, what do you not compel the hearts of men to do!
  3. Divine, celestial.
    • 29 BCE – 19 BCE, Virgil, Aeneid VIII.591
      extulit os sacrum caelo tenebrasque resoluit
      lifts to the skies his countenance divine, and melts the shadows of the night away.
  4. (only poetic and in post-Augustan (Silver Age Latin) prose) Execrable, detestable, horrible, infamous; criminal, impious, wicked, abominable, cursed.
    • c. 254 BCE – 184 BCE, Plautus, Bacchides 4.6.14
      ego sum malus ego sum sacer scelestus
      I am a bad one, I am a cursed one--a wicked one.


First/second declension, masculine nominative singular in -er.

Number Singular Plural
Case / Gender Masculine Feminine Neuter Masculine Feminine Neuter
nominative sacer sacra sacrum sacrī sacrae sacra
genitive sacrī sacrae sacrī sacrōrum sacrārum sacrōrum
dative sacrō sacrae sacrō sacrīs sacrīs sacrīs
accusative sacrum sacram sacrum sacrōs sacrās sacra
ablative sacrō sacrā sacrō sacrīs sacrīs sacrīs
vocative sacer sacra sacrum sacrī sacrae sacra



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  • sacer” in Charlton T. Lewis & Charles Short, A Latin Dictionary, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1879.
  • Michiel de Vaan (2008), Etymological Dictionary of Latin and the other Italic Languages, Leiden, Boston: Brill Academic Publishers, page 532