The word Latin
has more than one meaning.
- As a noun, Latin usually refers to the Latin language. Latins in linguistics is a jargon form for Romance languages, ie. languages descended from Latin.
- The Latins were an ancient people of central Italy, in the region known as Latium. The most important of the Latin cities was Rome - see the founding of Rome for some details. In mythology, the name came from the mythical king Latinus.
- Later, the western half of the Roman Empire was often referred to as Latin, as opposed to the Greek east. This term was also applied to the Roman Catholic church and western successor states, and especially to the crusaders. For instance the crusader kingdom in Constantinople is called the Latin Empire, and the kingdoms of Jerusalem and Acre were also known as Latin kingdoms.
- As an adjective, Latin can be used to refer to those of extraction from the Romance-speaking peoples of the Mediterranean, such as in terms such as "Latin America" and "Latin lover."