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Latin is the language that was developed in Ancient Rome, heart of the Roman Republic and hub of the later Roman Empire, was the basis of development of several later languages such as Italian, French, Catalan, Spanish, Portuguese, Sardinian, and Romanian (the "Romance" languages), was still a universal language in Europe until the 17th century, and has been retained in use by bodies such as the Roman Catholic Church and used for nomenclature in scientific circles as well as for hundreds of expressions that are part of modern languages.

The name is from the province surrounding Rome, Latium (Italian "Lazio").

The word applies also to types of script and (partly as an abbreviation of "Latin American") to people of the parts of the Americas that were colonized by Spain and Portugal and not subsequently acquired by Britain.