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nómina Rómána

·Roma Antiqua ·
Nómina Rómána - Praenomen - Nomen - Cognomen - Agnomen

·Nova Roma·
Choosing a Roman name - Using Roman names

A cognomen is a family name which would be shared by a group of blood relatives. Cognomina often, but not always, referred to a person's appearance or other characteristics. It was also common to have a cognomen referring to a place of birth, a job, or some other thing which distinguished the person (usually an ancestor) who first bore that cognomen. It is the third part of the tria nomina.


The Characteristics of Cognomina

Ancient republican cognomina had certain general characteristics. A person was not given his cognomen by his parents and did not choose it for himself: he either inherited it from his parents or was given it by general consensus within the community. In this sense a cognomen was like a nickname. For this reason, they were usually objective rather than subjective, concrete rather than abstract, and neutral or insulting rather than complimentary.


A Roman almost always took his father's cognomen, especially if his father himself inherited the name from his father. Cases in which a cognomen may not be passed down from father to son are those where the cognomen is particularly closely associated with the father and would not be relevant to the son.

Agnomina are not usually inherited. Adoptive cognomina and matronymic cognomina are never inherited.

Ancient Republican Cognomina

A cognomen used in the ancient republic will normally be acceptable so long as it complies with the general characteristics noted above. Here is a list of some ancient republican cognomina with their meanings. Some cognomina were used especially by certain gentes: these are noted in the list, but they may also be used by members of other gentes.

Male Form Female Form Status   Used especially by
Aculeo Aculeo  
Agricola Agricola SINE MODO  
Agrippa Agrippa SINE MODO   Gens Menenia
Ahala Ahala   Gens Servilia
Ahenobarbus Ahenobarba   Gens Domitia
Albinus Albina   Gens Postumia
Albus Alba   Gens Postumia
Ambustus Ambusta SUBICIENS   Gens Fabia
Annalis Annalis   Gens Villia
Aquila Aquila SINE MODO  
Aquilinus Aquilina SINE MODO  
Arvina Arvina   Gens Cornelia
Asellio Asellio   Gens Sempronia
Asina Asina   Gens Cornelia
Atellus Atella  
Avitus Avita  
Balbus Balba SUBICIENS   Gentes Acilia, Cornelia, Lucilia, Naevia, Octavia
Barba Barba  
Barbatus Barbata SINE MODO   Gentes Cornelia, Horatia, Quinctia
Bassus Bassa  
Bestia Bestia   Gens Calpurnia
Bibaculus Bibacula SUBICIENS   Gentes Furia, Sextia
Bibulus Bibula SUBICIENS   Gentes Calpurnia, Publicia
Blaesus Blaesa SUBICIENS   Gens Sempronia
Brocchus Broccha SUBICIENS  
Brutus Bruta   Gens Iunia
Bubulcus Bubulca SUBICIENS   Gens Iunia
Bucco Bucco SUBICIENS  
Bulbus Bulba SUBICIENS   Gens Atilia
Buteo Buteo   Gens Fabia
Caecus Caeca   Gens Claudia
Caepio Caepio   Gens Servilia
Caesar Caesar DISSUADERENS   Gens Iulia
Calidus Calida   Gens Coelia
Calvinus Calvina   Gentes Domitia, Veturia
Calvus Calva SUBICIENS  
Camillus Camilla   Gens Furia
Caninus Canina SINE MODO   Gens Acilia
Canus Cana  
Capito Capito SUBICIENS   Gens Ateia
Carbo Carbo   Gens Papirii
Catilina Catilina   Gens Sergia
Cato Cato DISSUADERENS   Gentes Hostilia, Porcia
Catulus Catula   Gens Lutatia
Celer Celeris  
Celsus Celsa   Gens Papia
Cethegus Cethega   Gens Cornelia
Cicero Cicero DISSUADERENS   Gens Tullia
Cicurinus Cicurina   Gens Veturia
Cilo Cilo SUBICIENS   Gens Flaminia
Cincinnatus Cincinnata   Gens Quinctia
Cinna Cinna Gens Cornelia
Cordus Corda  
Cornicen Cornicen  
Cornutus Cornuta   Gens Caecilia, Sulpicia
Corvinus Corvina   Gens Valeria
Corvus Corva SINE MODO   Gens Valeria
Cossus Cossa   Gens Cornelia
Costa Costa   Gens Pedania
Cotta Cotta Gens Aurelia
Crassipes Crassipes SUBICIENS   Gens Furia
Crassus Crassa SINE MODO   Gentes Claudia, Licinia, Otacilia, Veturia
Crispinus Crispina  
Crispus Crispa   Gentes Sallustia, Vibia
Culleo Culleo SUBICIENS   Gens Terentia
Curio Curio SUBICIENS   Gens Scribonia
Cursor Cursor   Gens Papiria
Curvus Curva   Gens Fulvia
Dentatus Dentata SUBICIENS  
Denter Dentra SUBICIENS   Gens Caecilia
Dento Dento SUBICIENS  
Dives Dives   Gens Licinia
Dolabella Dolabella   Gens Cornelia
Dorsuo Dorsuo SUBICIENS   Gens Fabia
Drusus Drusa Gens Livia
Figulus Figula SUBICIENS  
Fimbria Fimbria   Gens Flavia
Flaccus Flacca SUBICIENS   Gentes Aviania, Fulvia, Valeria
Flavus Flava   Gens Decimia
Florus Flora   Gens Aquilia
Fronto Fronto SUBICIENS  
Fullo Fullo SUBICIENS   Gens Apustia
Fusus Fusa   Gens Furia
Galeo Galeo  
Gemellus Gemella   Gentes Servilia, Veturia
Glabrio Glabrio   Gens Acilia
Gracchus Graccha Gens Sempronia
Gurges Gurges   Gens Fabia
Habitus Habita   Gens Cluentia
Helva Helva SUBICIENS   Gens Aebutia
Imperiosus Imperiosa DISSUADERENS   Gens Manlia
Iullus Iulla   Gens Iulia
Labeo Labeo   Gentes Antistia, Atinia, Fabia
Lactuca Lactuca   Gens Valeria
Laenas Laenas   Gens Popillia
Lanatus Lanata   Gens Menenia
Laevinus Laevina
Laterensis Laterensis   Gens Iuventia
Lentulus Lentula   Gens Cornelia
Lepidus Lepida SINE MODO   Gens Aemilia
Libo Libo SUBICIENS Gens Marcia, Scribonia
Licinus Licina SUBICIENS   Gens Mamilia
Longus Longa SUBICIENS   Gentes Sempronia, Sulpicia
Lucullus Luculla   Gens Licinia
Lupus Lupa SINE MODO   Gens Rutilia
Lurco Lurco SUBICIENS  
Macer Macra SUBICIENS   Gens Licinia
Macula Macula SUBICIENS  
Malleolus Malleola   Gens Publicia
Mamercus Mamerca   Gens Aemilia
Marcellus Marcella SINE MODO   Gens Claudia
Maro Maro SUBICIENS   Gens Vergilia
Merenda Merenda SUBICIENS   Gentes Antonia, Cornelia
Mergus Merga SUBICIENS  
Merula Merula   Gens Cornelia
Messalla Messalla Gens Valeria
Metellus Metella SINE MODO   Gens Caecilia
Murena Murena   Gens Licinia
Mus Mus SUBICIENS   Gens Decia
Musca Musca SUBICIENS   Gens Sempronia
Nasica Nasica   Gens Sempronia
Naso Naso SUBICIENS   Gens Ovidia
Natta Natta SUBICIENS   Gens Pinaria
Nepos Nepos   Gens Caecilia
Nero Nero   Gens Claudia
Nerva Nerva   Gens Cocceia, Licinia
Niger Nigra SUBICIENS  
Novellus Novella   Gens Gavilia
Ocella Ocella SUBICIENS   Gens Livia
Pacilus Pacila SUBICIENS   Gens Furia
Paetus Paeta SUBICIENS   Gens Aelia
Pansa Pansa SUBICIENS   Gens Vibia
Papus Papa SUBICIENS   Gens Aemilia
Paterculus Patercula SUBICIENS   Gens Sulpicia
Paullus Paulla   Gens Aemilia
Pavo Pavo  
Pera Pera SUBICIENS   Gens Iunia
Pictor Pictrix   Gens Fabia
Piso Piso   Gens Calpurnia
Plancus Planca   Gens Munatia
Plautus Plauta SUBICIENS  
Poplicola Poplicola Amicus/amica populi Gens Valeria
Postumus Postuma   Gens Curtia
Potitus Potita   Gens Valeria
Praeconinus Praeconina SUBICIENS  
Praetextatus Praetextata Gerens togam praetextam Gens Sulpicia
Priscus Prisca Antiquissimus, -a, -um
Proculus Procula natus, -a, -um dum pater abest Gens Plautia
Publicola Publicola Variatio Poplicolae Gens Valeria
Pulcher Pulchra Similis verbae bellus, -a, -um Gens Claudia
Pullus Pulla SUBICIENS  
Pulvillus Pulvilla SUBICIENS   Gens Horatia
Purpureo Purpureo SUBICIENS  
Quadratus Quadrata  
Ralla Ralla SUBICIENS   Gens Marcia
Regillus Regilla   Gens Aemilia
Regulus Regula SINE MODO   Gens Atilia
Rufus Rufa  
Rullus Rulla SUBICIENS   Gens Servilia
Rutilus Rutila  
Salinator Salinatrix   Gens Livia
Saturninus Saturnina  
Scaeva Scaeva   Gens Iunia, Marcia
Scaevola Scaevola   Gens Mucia
Scapula Scapula SUBICIENS   Gens Quinctia
Scaurus Scaura   Gentes Aemilia, Aurelia
Scipio Scipio DISSUADERENS   Gens Cornelii
Scrofa Scrofa SUBICIENS   Gens Tremelia
Seneca Seneca   Gens Annaea
Severus Severa SINE MODO  
Silanus Silana   Gens Iunia
Silo Silo SUBICIENS   Gens Sergia
Silus Sila SUBICIENS   Gens Sergia
Stolo Stolo SUBICIENS   Gens Licinia
Strabo Strabo   Gens Titia
Structus Structa   Gens Servilia
Sulla Sulla DISSUADERENS   Gens Cornelia
Taurus Taura  
Triarius Triaria SINE MODO   Gens Valeria
Trigeminus Trigemina   Gens Curiatia
Trio Trio SUBICIENS   Gens Lucretia
Tubero Tubero SUBICIENS   Gens Aelia, Iulia
Tubertus Tuberta SUBICIENS   Gens Postumia
Tubulus Tubula SUBICIENS   Gens Hostilia
Tuditanus Tuditana SUBICIENS   Gens Sempronia
Tullus Tulla   Gens Volcatia
Turdus Turda SUBICIENS   Gens Papiria
Varro Varro   Gens Terentia
Varus Vara   Gentes Atilia, Licinia, Quinctilia
Vatia Vatia   Gens Servilia
Verres Verres   Gens Cornelia
Vespillo Vespillo   Gens Lucretia
Vetus Vetus   Gens Antistia
Vitulus Vitula   Gentes Mamilia, Pomponia
Volusus Volusa   Gens Valeria

Geographical Cognomina

Some people had cognomina which referred to the place where they came from, whether a city (e.g. Collatinus, "man from Collatia"), a region (e.g. Campanus, "man from Campania"), or a tribe (e.g. Sabinus, "man of the Sabines").

These geographical cognomina should be distinguished from honorific cognomina like Germanicus or Britannicus. These names do not refer to a place of origin but to a military achievement. If someone is called Britannicus it does not mean he is from Britain, it means he won a great victory against the Britons. Names like this are not allowed, for obvious reasons.

Occupational Cognomina

Another type of cognomen referred to the person's job or occupation (e.g. Pictor, "painter"; Caprarius, "goat-herd").

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