lares and penates

plural noun

lar·​es and pe·​na·​tes ˈler-(ˌ)ēz-and-pə-ˈnā-tēz How to pronounce lares and penates (audio)
: household gods
: personal or household effects

Did you know?

The phrase "lares and penates" is at home in the elevated writings of scholars. A classicist could tell you that Lares and Penates were Roman gods once worshipped as guardians of the household, and an avid Walpolian might be able to tell you that his or her favorite author (Horace Walpole) is credited with first domesticating the phrase to refer to a person's possessions. In the centuries since Walpole used "lares and penates" in a 1775 letter to the English poet William Mason, the phrase has become solidly established in the English language, and it continues to be used by authors and journalists today.

Word History


Latin Larēs et Penātēs — more at lar, penates

First Known Use

1616, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of lares and penates was in 1616


Dictionary Entries Near lares and penates

Cite this Entry

“Lares and penates.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Jul. 2024.

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