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In English, and most modern European languages, we have one single word, "very," which is accepted as the regular way to make an adjective more extreme. Is there a common way to do this in Latin? Ways I can think of are just using the superlative, or using some adjective like nimis, multum or magnopere.

E.g. (something) is very cold: maybe est frigidissimus, est multum frigidus or est nimis frigidus?

But what I'm really interested in is whether there's a "regular" way of doing this. Perhaps different ways were idiomatic in different eras.

This is not the same sort of emphasis as moving the adjective to the start of the sentence — that emphasizes the importance of the word, whereas I want to change the meaning of it, make it more extreme.

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Using nimis (or related words) before an adjective strengthens it, but in a specific direction: nimis frigidus is "too cold", not "very cold". You can also reach a similar tone with comparative: frigidior can mean "too cold".

I suggest three ways to emphasize an adjective:

  1. Superlative: Frigidissimus is a very idiomatic way to say "too cold". The absolute superlative (superlative without a comparison to anything else) is common. The absolute comparative (see above) is less common.

  2. Valde: Valde frigidus is one way to go. It should be noticed, though, that valde is a contraction from valide. This gives the word a tone1 different from the English "very". However, valde is a good translation of "very".

  3. Prefix: Many adjectives can be emphasized with a prefix. A typical choice for emphasis is per-, and it can also be used for verbs. This prefix is so common that I would encourage using it productively. But for your example this is not needed, since perfrigidus is attested in ancient literature.

Combining all three suggestions to valde perfrigidissimus would sound very overexaggerated.

I am unsure about multum. It sounds less idiomatic to me, but it may turn out to be valid.


1 Notice that val(i)de means also "strongly". The English "very" is not connected to an adjective like validus. Therefore "very" and valde are not exactly alike, but they are very close.

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