The dictionary I use tells me that Cibus, could mean "food", or "meals" or "dishes", and many other related meanings.

So, I find logical, that, when you have the plural, it means rather meals/dishes.

Cibos libo.
Translated in the dictionary with something like "I taste dishes"
(the dictionary is not in English, so I re-translated it)

I read some Latin sentences confirming that.

But, I also read Latin sentences implying that it could be used in the singular or in the plural to mean "food". As the French language would use either la nourriture ou les aliments, a singular or a plural, to mean "food" in general.

For instance:

Admitto aliquid in cibos = here, it's used as food (or it could mean used as "meals" or "lunches", but the meaning would be the same)

It seems difficult to distinguish sometimes when it means food, and when it means meals.

So, could we say that the distinctive meanings between the singular and the plural, sometimes is blurred?

Or is it really, usually, a "rule" that the plural mean rather "meals", etc, rather than the food, taken as a general category?

Could you give me examples of sentences to demonstrate your explanation?

  • 1
    To be fair, its ambiguous in English too. One can say "lets get a meal" or "lets get food."
    – Nickimite
    Oct 26 '19 at 1:29
  • Thank you. Usually, it is more food or meals?
    – Quidam
    Oct 26 '19 at 8:13

It can mean either, though I would usually say "food" or "dish" instead of "meal". There's not much semantic difference between the singular and the plural; both refer to a vague quantity of "food" rather than a single specific item (just like your French example).

A quick corpus search indicates that it's somewhat more common in the singular than in the plural (202 matches for cibos, 358 for cibum in the PHI), which lines up with my intuition. But both are extremely common in the Classical period, and neither is particularly "marked".

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