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Tau Lexicon

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This article collects all known sentences, expressions, terms, and words of the Tau language and their respective translations and meanings.

Tau alphabet


Note: the Tau alphabet doesn't have letters for "Q" or "Z", and uses the same letters for the sounds "C/K" and "I/Y".

Time and length units

Tau time unit composed by Imperial equivalent conversion source
Tau'cyr 6 Kai'rotaa year 297.74 Terran days Codex: Tau (3rd Edition), p.57
Kai'rotaa 80 Rotaa month 50 Terran days Codex:Tau (3rd Edition), p.57
Rotaa 10 Decs day 15 Terran hours Codex:Tau (3rd Edition), p.57
Dec unknown hour 1.5 Terran hours Codex:Tau (3rd Edition), p.57
Rai'kor unknown likely: minute unknown Fire Warrior (Novel), p.15
Rai'kan unknown likely: second (this creates a conflict with the next entry) unknown Fire Warrior (Novel), p.134
Dec’taa unknown more than likely: second unknown Front line report (accessed 2007.11.23)
Mor'tek-rai'kan unknown likely: micro second unknown Fire Warrior (Novel), p.344

Tau length unit composed by Imperial equivalent conversion source
Tor'kan unknown kilometer? unknown Fire Warrior (Novel) p.308, p.153
Tor'lek unknown meter? unknown Fire Warrior (Novel) p.44, p.306
Tor'il unknown centimeter? unknown Fire Warrior (Novel) p. 160, p.188, p.300

Basic military organization

name of unit composed by leader rough Imperial equivalent notes
La'rua - team 6 to 12 fire warriors 1 Shas-ui Imperial Guard squad specialized teams are referred to as mission groups, and answer to a coalition command
Kau'ui - cadre from a few fire warrior teams to a larger force with a wide variety of vehicles and specialised units cadre commander Imperial Guard company may include detachments from the other arms (i.e.: the navy) and allies
Tio've - contingent three to six cadres most senior cadre commander or contingent commander Imperial Guard regiment Contingents are either led by the most senior cadre commander present or by a separate contingent commander
Kavaal - commune a temporary grouping of contingents unknown unknown (although unknown it is safe to assume that a commune is led by the most senior contingent commander or by a separate commune commander as this would follow the logic of the rest of Tau military structure)
Uash'o - command all forces of a given caste in a given location (usually a planet but could be a whole star system) in the case of the Fire caste: High commander unknown
Shan'al - coalition all Tau forces of a given world or star system (sept) a council of Ethereals, or a particular Ethereal unknown
  • Note: this is the paper strength and ideal paper organization. In the chaos of war everything largely depends upon the circumstances.

Caste system

caste trainee rank - SAAL1 lowest rank - LA second lowest rank - UI middle rank - VRE second highest rank - EL highest rank - O
Fire - Shas unknown warrior veteran hero noble or knight commander
Earth - Fio unknown worker senior overseer engineer planner
Water - Por unknown bureaucrat envoy magister diplomat ambassador
Air - Kor unknown messenger carrier pilot2 captain admiral
Etheral or Celestial - Aun unknown prince prelate king holy(?) highest(?)
  • 1Fire Warrior (Novel), p. 120 (the canonicity of this trainee rank is very unclear; the rank doesn't appear anywhere else)
  • 2 Although the rank translates as pilot, the lower ranks of Kor'la and Kor'ui are also sufficient enough to pilot.


complete Tau name word for word translation short form notes source
Aun'o' T'au Acaya'Va'Denta Ethereal caste Highest of the sept T'au the Master of the Undying Spirit Aun'Va - ??? the given translation is puzzling and quite unclear Codex: Tau Empire (4th Edition), p.42
Aun'el' T'au Kovash Ethereal caste of the sept T'au Worthy Cause Kill Team (Novel), p.26
Aun ??? Vior'la Shi Ethereal caste ??? of the sept Viorla Victory Aun'shi - ??? his homesept is given at page 53, "Shi" means victory (perhaps: Victorious Ethereal?) Codex: Tau (3rd Edition) p.52, 53
Por'o Bor'kan Aloh Sha'is Water caste ambassador of the sept Bor'kan Coldwind ??? O'Aloh - Ambassador Coldwind Kill Team (Novel), p.163
Shas'o T'au Shi'ur Fire caste commander of the sept T'au Strong Triumph O'Shi'ur - Commander Strong Triumph Fire Warrior (Novel), p.14
Shas'la T'au Kais Fire caste warrior of the sept T'au Skilled La'kais - Warrior skilled (i.e.: skilled Warrior) Fire Warrior (Novel), p.11
Shas'o Vior'La Shovah Kais Mont'yr Fire caste commander of the sept Vior'La Farsighted Skilful Blooded O'Shovah - Commander Farsight "Kaius" - which is given at page 50 is without any doubt a spelling mistake, see page 56 Codex: Tau p.50 p.56, Codex: Tau Empire p.44
Shas'o ??? Shassera Fire caste commander ??? Shadowsun O'Shassera - Commander Shadowsun her homesept is unknown, very likely to have more given names (Sept could possibly be Tau'n judging by sept colour markings.) Codex: Tau Empire, p.46
Shas'o ??? Var Fire caste commander ??? Brightsword O'Var - Commander Brightwsord very unclear, his full name is supposed to be Shas'o Tash'var Ol'nan B'kak and translated as fire caste commander from the world Tash'var Brightsword Sandherder. However this is contradicted at the page 169 where the short form is given as O'Var - Commander Brightsword. It is more than likely that the author of the novel misunderstood/mixed up the rules of Tau names. Kill Team p.167, p.168, p.169

All Tau names give several basic informations.

  1. The first part tells us which caste the Tau individual belongs to and also which rank he holds.
  2. The second part tells the homesept of the Tau individual.
  3. The third and final part is the given personal name of the individual Tau. Such titles are given in recognition of some achievement and highly remarkable individuals can have several of these given names. Commonly such individuals are spoken to in a short manner: rank, 1st given personal name (e.g.: "Commander Shadowsun"). More than one individual can have the same title/given name.

The correct way to address a Tau individual also depends upon the relationship between the two persons. Friends and relatives may use the short 1st given name (e.g.: "Shadowsun"). Strangers and colleagues are expected to be polite and to use caste and rank (e.g.:"Fire caste commander"). This acknowledges the place of the individual in question and seems to be common in battle communications.

Sentences and expressions

Tau sentence or expression translation notes source
se'hen che lel Riding the lightning. refers to being in a pod as it is propelled at very great velocity (i.e.: traveling at insane speeds) Fire Warrior (Novel), p.168
Seeking a t'repa in a gerosh'i. Similar to "looking a needle in a haystack". Fire Warrior (Novel), p.328
We can run with our tail between our legs, like an anxious ui't. Similar to "run with the tail between ones legs". Fire Warrior (Novel) p.144, p.402
Aur'ocy shath'r'i tskan sha Tau'va. Unity comes to all things, in time. A saying that defines the necessity element of the Greater Good. Xenology p.17

Terms and words

Alphabetical order Tau term literal translation common translation, usual meaning, notes source
A Aloh Coldwind, a personal name Kill Team (Novel), p.163
Aun Ethereal, Celestial, Ethereal caste Codex:Tau (3rd Edition), p.57
Aun'bork'an'retha A combined Temple/university on Bork'an dedicated to the Ethereal caste and their wisdom. Codex:Tau (3rd Edition), p.57
Aun'chiagor A ceremonial gathering on a round table of the senior representatives of the 5 castes. The first round table was called Chia'gor. Fire Warrior (Novel), p.138
Aun't'au'retha unclear, "the council within the Aun't'au'retha has been reluctant to antagonize the gue'la...". The sentence hints the Aun't'au'retha to be a kind of parliament or senate-like assembly of Aun. Fire Warrior (Novel), p.145
B Be'gel Ork(s), "insane, green-skinned Be'gel" (incapable of integration with the tau'va) Fire Warrior (Novel), p.74
Codex: Tau Empire (7th Edition), Cadre Fireblades
D D'yanoi twin moons also the name of a Tau sept Codex:Tau (3rd Edition), p.64
Da'noh Mystery not yet unraveled by the Earth Caste [1]
E Erijabirds birds found in the orchards of the Aun'bork'an'retha Codex:Tau (3rd Edition), p.12
Eur'ii unclear: tears? sweat?, salty?, stinging? Fire Warrior (Novel), p.65
F Fio Earth, earth caste Codex:Tau (3rd Edition), p.57
Fio'dr unclear: uniform or fabric Fire Warrior (Novel) p.65, p.76
Fio'shas worker-warrior a nickname Fire Warrior (Novel), p.16
Fio'tak unclear: machine?, console? mechanical? electronic? metal? Fire Warrior (Novel) p.134, p. 140, p.300, p.403
Fu'llasso Political mess [1]
G Gal'leath explorer, also a ship class of the Tau Navy To Unite the Stars PDF (accessed 2007.11.24)
Gue'la Human Codex:Tau (3rd Edition), p.57
Gue'vesa human helpers human auxiliary troops which are loyal to the Tau empire Tau Human Auxiliaries (accessed 2007.03.29)
Gue'vesa'la A soldier of the Gue'vesa Tau Human Auxiliaries by Andy Hoare (accessed 2007.03.29)
Gue'vesa'ui A sergeant of the Gue'vesa Tau Human Auxiliaries by Andy Hoare (accessed 2007.03.29)
Gue'ron'sha Space Marines [1]
H Ho'or-ata-t'chel sympathetic ghostpains which can be felt by pilots whose battlesuits have been damaged, extreme cases can be crippling. Fire Warrior (Novel) p.307
I Il'fannor merchant, also a ship class of the Tau Navy To unite the Stars PDF (accessed 2007.11.24)
Iur'tae'mont burnout, war madness, shell shock Fire Warrior (Novel) p.259
J J'karra mirror Codex: Tau (3rd Edition), p.57
Juntas A side (also direction) of a ship. The text is unclear if it is Port, Starboard, Left, or Right Fire Warrior (Novel)]] p. 47, p.170, p.200
K Kais skilful, a personal name Codex: Tau (3rd Edition), p.57
Kass'l Orca, a star-fighter class To unite the Stars PDF (accessed 2007.11.24)
Kauyon Patient Hunter oldest of the two main war strategies of the Tau military (see below: Mont'ka), in the Tau language the words for hunter and patience are derived from the same root Codex: Tau (3rd Edition) p.57, Codex: Tau Empire (4th Edition) p.12
Kir'qath defender, also a ship class of the Tau Navy To unite the Stars PDF (accessed 2007.11.24)
Kles'tak a high-density explosive Fire Warrior (Novel), p.195,
Ko'vash a worthy cause To strive for, also a personal name Codex: Tau (3rd Edition) p.57, Fire Warrior (Novel) p.23
Kor Air, air caste Codex: Tau (3rd Edition), p.57
Kor'vattra Tau Space Fleet (perhaps also: Tau Navy?) To unite the Stars PDF (accessed 2007.11.24)
Kor'ves faithful helper Tau drone Codex: Tau (3rd Edition), p.57
Ko'vash A Worthy Cause To strive for [1]
Ky'husa alcoholic beverage, is drunk preferably in a single gulp and while it is warm Codex: Tau (3rd Edition), p.61
L Lar'shi hero, also a ship class of the Tau Navy To unite the Stars PDF (accessed 2007.11.24)
Lhas'rhen'na Shattered Jade Noble sacrifice [1]
M Mal'caor spider Codex: Tau (3rd Edition), p.57
Mal'kor Refers to the allied race the Vespid, also known as Stingwings Codex: Tau (4th Edition), p.39
Mesme combination Codex: Tau (3rd Edition), p.57
Monat Freedom of One title for a single Battlesuit working without a team (i.e.: a lone warrior) White Dwarf 263us, Battlesuit configurations (accessed 2007.12.06)
Mont'au The Terror, the Tau race's worst nightmare, the time before the coming of the Ethereal caste when the other castes were set against one another. A barbaric time of war that the Tau fear could return should any Tau put themselves before the Greater Good. Can also be an individual case of: "a state-of-being without progress, without unity or altruism, without direction or purpose or strength", in other words: an individualistic Tau which is simply unable to work in a team (read the novel Fire Warrior). Codex: Tau (3rd Edition), p.57, Fire Warrior (Novel), p.81
Mont'ka Killing Blow one of the two main war strategies of the Tau military (see above: Kauyon) Codex: Tau (3rd Edition) p.57, Codex: Tau Empire (4th Edition) p.12
Mon'wern'a deceptive assault (a battle-scheme) Fire Warrior (Novel), p.53
Mont'yr Seen Battle Blooded, a personal name Codex: Tau (3rd Edition), p.57
M'yen unforseen Codex: Tau (3rd Edition), p.57
O Or'es Powerful Codex: Tau (3rd Edition), p.57
P Por Water, water caste Codex: Tau (3rd Edition), p.57
Por'hui unclear: News or something similar (cited are: porhui media, por'hui journalists, por'hui channels) Fire Warrior (Novel) p.14, p.58
Por'sral Propaganda campaign [1]
R Run'al small observation post or hide, hidden bunker Codex: Tau (3rd Edition) p.57, Codex: Tau empire [4th Edition) p. 12
S Sept a star system of the Tau which becomes a individual cultural entity Codex: Tau (3rd Edition), p.7
Shas Fire, fire caste Codex: Tau (3rd Edition), p.57
Shas'ar'tol Fire caste military high command Codex: Tau (3rd Edition), p.57
Shas'len'ra Cautious Warrior Fire Warrior (Novel), p.34
Shaserra Shadowsun, a personal name Codex: Tau Empire (4th Edition), p.46
Shi Victory Codex:Tau (3rd edition), p.57
Shi'ur Strong Triumph, a personal name Fire Warrior (Novel), p.14
Sho'aun'or'es source of power the heart of the reactor of a power plant Kill Team (Novel) p.142, Fire Warrior (Novel) p.132, p.134
Sho'kara Lense or window to the Warp used by Tau vessels (perhaps: Warp-jump point?). It is commented that the Tau are unable to create an artificial one. Kill Team (Novel), p.144
Shovah Farsighted, a personal name Codex: Tau (3rd Edition) p.56, 57
Sio't always refered to as "Sio't meditation" (several kinds). Unclear: mantras, prayers? Fire Warrior (Novel), p.74
Skether'quan messenger, also a ship class of the Tau Navy To unite the Stars PDF (accessed 2007.11.24)
Snae'ta unclear: "A snae'ta gue'la cauterised" the wound of a Tau prisoner. A (Tau) mighty general and a powerful fighter, but a snae'ta nonetheless. Fire Warrior (Novel) p.76, p.402
T Tau'kon'she a Tau festival during which a ceremonial clonebeast is hunted by Shas'ui Fire Warrior (Novel) p.160, p.189
Tau'fann age-old address for members of alternate castes Fire Warrior (Novel), p.140
Ta'ro'cha three minds – one purpose a Tau battlesuit configuration (i.e.: three battlesuits which work as a team) Battlesuit configurations (accessed 2007.12.06)
Ta'lissera Communion, Marriage, bonding ritual (perhaps also: "sworn brotherhood"?) Codex: Tau (3rd Edition), p.57
Tau'va Good Greater The Greater Good Codex: Tau (3rd Edition), p.57
Tsua'm Middle, a personal name Codex: Tau (3rd Edition) p.56, p.57
U Ukos Spoon Codex: Tau (3rd Edition), p.57
U'it an animal with a tail, similar to a dog. "We can run with our tail between our legs, like an anxious ui't." Fire Warrior (Novel) p.144, p.402
V Vash'aun'an Warp space Kill Team (Novel), p.144
Vash'ya Between spheres also the name of a Tau sept Codex: Tau (3rd Edition), p.57
Ves'ron Robotic being [1]
Vior'la Hot Blooded also the name of a Tau sept Codex: Tau (3rd Edition), p.57
Vral Undercut a personal name Codex: Tau (3rd Edition) p.56, 57
Var Brightsword, a personal name Kill Team (Novel), p.169
Y Y'eldi Winged one Air caste name for a particularly gifted pilot, a personal name Codex:Tau (3rd edition), p. 57
Y'he Tyranid(s), "ever-devouring Yhe" (incapable of integration with the tau'va) Fire Warrior (Novel), p.74

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