Eighteenth-century scholars writing on languages were obsessed with the génie de la langue. This rather vague but very influential concept entailed a variegated cluster of characteristics ascribed to a particular language, and so highlighted the distinctiveness of an individual language in comparison to others. Because of this, it is especially prominent in texts of scholars defending their own vernacular language or downplaying other vernaculars. In the last decades, much attention has been given to the vicissitudes of this influential idea. Even so, the context from which it originally developed has remained underexposed. It is commonly traced back to the French author Amable de Bourzeys (1606–72), and this attribution has been accepted without further discussion. The present paper reveals the more remote history of the notion génie de la langue. Its main focus is on Early Christian Latin texts as well as Early Modern Neo-Latin texts of the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. By demonstrating that the phrase was already used long before the seventeenth century, this paper aims to contribute both to the impressive Beleggeschichte of this influential notion and to the many transformations it underwent throughout history.