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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Praenomen \Pr[ae]*no"men\, n.; pl. Pr[ae]nomina. [L., fr. prae before + nomen name.] (Rom. Antiq.) The first name of a person, by which individuals of the same family were distinguished, answering to our Christian name, as Caius, Lucius, Marcus, etc.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

from Latin praenomen, literally "before the name," from prae- (see pre-) + nomen (see name (n.)).


n. An ancient Roman first name.

  1. n. the first name of a citizen of ancient Rome

  2. [also: praenomina (pl)]


The praenomen (; plural: praenomina) was a personal name chosen by the parents of a Roman child. It was first bestowed on the dies lustricus (day of lustration), the eighth day after the birth of a girl, or the ninth day after the birth of a boy. The praenomen would then be formally conferred a second time when girls married, or when boys assumed the toga virilis upon reaching manhood. Although it was the oldest of the tria nomina commonly used in Roman naming conventions, by the late republic, most praenomina were so common that most people were called by their praenomina only by family or close friends. For this reason, although they continued to be used, praenomina gradually disappeared from public records during imperial times. Although both men and women received praenomina, women's praenomina were frequently ignored, and they were gradually abandoned by many Roman families, though they continued to be used in some families and in the countryside.

Usage examples of "praenomen".

Lucius was not a patrician Claudian praenomen, yet the Rex Sacrorum was certainly a patrician Claudius.

I have postulated that there was a certain branch of the Claudii bearing the praenomen Lucius which always traditionally provided Rome with her Rex Sacrorum.

Examples include Del-, a common praenomen for priests, derived from Detoon the Righteous, and Mek-, frequently chosen by bloodpriests, in honor of Mekt.

Gerth, derived from the miracle worker, Gerthalk, was a praenomen syllable often chosen by deeply religious females, just as Det, from Detoon the Righteous, was a frequent choice among males, especially those who had entered the priesthood.

Of course, his name no longer would be just Rodlox, but rather now must be Dy-Rodlox, the long-established custom being that governors affirmed their loyalty to the Emperor by taking a praenomen derived from his name.

Len-Ganloor, but he suffered the use of the praenomen that honored Dybo only on the most formal of occasions.

Each gens or clan favored certain praenomina only, perhaps two or three out of the twenty.