The Latin word for what?

April 24, 2007 by

Press & Publicity, Travel Advice & Inspiration, Viator Exclusives

Viator Tours and Things to Do
You know, it’s Latin for ‘traveler’

I was in New York City last week at a conference. The weather in NYC was mediocre (rain, cold blasts of chilly air, gray clouds…) but it didn’t get me down. That’s because I love New York. That’s right, as silly and cliched as it sounds, I really love New York.

Which is odd, because I used to live in New York. I know how hard it is to get by in that city, how you never seem to have enough money, enough time or enough space.

Another odd NYC fact: in the year or so I lived there, I cooked a meal in my apartment no more than a dozen times. And I never thought twice about it. People in Manhattan simply do not cook. They eat out. Chinese takeaway, slices of pizza, burgers, bagels, sometimes even a burrito (back then New Yorkers had no idea what good Mexican food was like, but that is changing).

But I digress. My hotel was just off Times Square, which has its advantages. Being in the travel industry I get a thrill (no joke) from talking to American tourists and foreign travelers, and getting a sense of what is popular, new and interesting in the world of travel.

As it often happens, I started talking to a family (from London) who were waiting for their New York City bus tour. They had booked online at (cheers for that) and I was asking them questions about their overall experience. (In retrospect they must have thought I was incredibly dull, blathering on about trends in online travel.)

My impromptu focus group was going great, until somebody asked me about the name of our company. This isn’t an exact quote but it’s close enough:

Nice London family: So what’s a ‘Via Tour’ then?

Scott: Actually we pronounce it VEYE-a-tor. You know, VI-a-tor.

Nice family from London: Via, what?

Scott: Viator. Most Americans pronounce it like “aviator” without the initial ‘a’. But the ‘i’ is a long vowel and the stress is actually on the first syllable.

Nice family from London: Right then, Viator, so what’s it mean?

Scott: A ha! I’m glad you asked. Most people don’t realize that ‘viator’ is actually the Latin word for ‘traveler’. ‘Via’ is the Latin word for ‘road’ and when you give it an -or suffix it becomes the word for traveler or messenger.

Nice family from London: Really, marvelous, how terribly fascinating…

At this point their eyes were clearly glazing over, so I canceled the history lesson and let them board their bus. I kid you not, later in the day at my conference I was having a conversation about Viator and was asked if we spelled it ‘Viatour’. You know, as in via-TOUR?

Alas, as much as or www.viat or or even would make sense, I had to reply that no, it’s Viator, you know, VI-a-tor. Believe it or not it’s actually the Latin word for ‘traveler’…

–Scott McNeely

7 Responses to “The Latin word for what?”

  1. komahony Says:

    I feel your pain Scott, Australians don’t get it either…


  2. stu Says:

    we don’t “get it” coz we don’t get taught latin in skool

  3. evan Says:

    Well, asking your average jo shmo to say a Latin word out loud correctly in this day and age, is asking too much 🙂

    You can always shunt your illiterates over to the LATINUM podcast, where they can learn how speak Latin like a real Roman.

  4. Marissa Says:

    Actually, in the Latin language, the ‘v’ is pronounced as a ‘w’ would be.

    So, it’s ‘WEE-EYE-TOUR.’


  5. Mike Says:

    I don’t get it either. 🙂 Long vowel I is pronounced like “ee” in “deep” or “we” and cause V is pronounced like english W, then vi = We.
    “A-viator”, should be quite near in pronunciation except for V (w) and A ( Should be as in father. )
    So “Wee”-“Ahh”-“tor”, stress on the second syllable, long A, should be correct.

    Could be wrong though, as I’m not fluent in English and a beginner at the Latin language. 😉

  6. jane Says: