lares and penates

plural noun lar·es and pe·na·tes \ˈler-(ˌ)ēz-and-pə-ˈnā-tēz, -ˈnä-\

Definition of lares and penates

  1. 1 :  household gods

  2. 2 :  personal or household effects

lares and penates was our Word of the Day on 11/26/2007. Hear the podcast!

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.


First Known Use of lares and penates


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a frightening dream

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