Origin of the word "Duomo"

Level C1-C2

Ciao a tutti!

With this post we keep going to improve Italian language knowledge.

During my lessons many students of advanced levels always ask me to explain the Latin origin of some Italian words or expressions.

For this reason, after a day spent in Florence among artistic beauty and shopping, and, of course after a visit to the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore and its beautiful Brunelleschi Dome (or cupola di Brunelleschi in Italian), I had the idea to ​​write about the origin of the word duomo.

The Duomo of Florence, also called “Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore”

If you have been to Italy, you know very well that every city, big or small has always a cathedral. This is because of all the churches that a city has, there is one. always facing the main square that is more important and bigger than the others.

The word duomo has a very ancient origin: dating back to the roman age when Latin was spoken, the form domus was used to indicate a roman city villa where patricians lived, in opposition to the term casa (home) where on the contrary plebeians lived.

During the Middle Age, the term domus had the meaning of a large religious building, where the remains of the saint were kept; then the term evolved during the centuries to the modern duomo.

The reason why it was decided to give the name duomo to the cathedral is to differentiate it from simple houses that kept the ancient and popular name casa.

It is interesting to note that although the term domus has changed its use over the centuries, both have remained in use in everyday Italian.

Next time you say the word duomo, you will know very well why you are using it.

A presto!


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