Two basic types of prefixed denominal locative verbs can be distinguished in Latin: the ones in (1) can be said to “agglutinate” a prepositional phrase expressing (dis)location, i.e., the place (cf. ex {terminis/termine}; in humo; per agros, etc.), whereas the ones in (2) contain a noun expressing the (dis)locatum object, i.e., the (re)moved or figural object (cf. flamma, dens, cortex, etc.).

(1) exterminare, inhumare, peragrare, etc.
(2) inflammare, edentare, decorticare, etc.

Concerning unprefixed denominal locative verbs (e.g., see (3)), I was wondering if the following generalization can be said to hold in Latin: locative verbs, when they are unprefixed, can never be interpreted as location verbs but only as locatum verbs. For example, the unprefixed verb terminare can only be interpreted as a locatum predicate (‘to set bounds’) rather than as a location one (‘to put X in the limit/boundary’).

(3) terminare, marginare, animare, crustare, etc.

It is then clear that there are unprefixed locatum verbs in Latin...but my question is: are there unprefixed location verbs in Latin?

As for a Romance language like French, it has been said that there are no unprefixed location verbs: e.g., according to Di Sciullo (1997: 71; fn. 9), “a prefix is required in denominal verbs including a location, as in <(4)>. No prefix is required in denominal verbs including an entity undergoing a change of position, as in <(5)>”. In Romance languages like Italian, Spanish, and Catalan it seems to be the case that some locatum verbs can be prefixed and some cannot. In contrast, location verbs are (typically) prefixed: e.g., as far as I know, the denominal location verb `to bottle' (i.e., 'to put X in bottles') is prefixed in all Romance languages.

(4) emboîter/*boîter ‘to box’; accrocher/*crocher ‘to hook’ (French) NB: the asterisk indicates ill-formation.

(5) beurrer 'to butter', saler 'to salt', seller 'to saddle' (French)

The French verbs in (4) and (5) are taken from Di Sciullo, A. M. (1997). “Prefixed-verbs and Adjunct Identification”. In A. M. Di Sciullo (ed.). Projections and Interface Conditions. New York & Oxford: Oxford University Press.

NB: although I'm mainly interested in Latin, feedback on Ancient Greek is also welcome. I'll also be glad to know what happens in your native language, specially if it is not a Romance language nor English (if you only want to give me feedback from your native language, please write it as a comment rather than as an answer, since this forum is only on Latin (and Ancient Greek)). Thanks in advance!

  • 1
    French has a few unprefixed verbs that look like location verbs to me: loger and abriter.
    – Asteroides
    Commented May 24, 2020 at 3:41
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    @Asteroides My non-native intuition (I'm Catalan) is that these French verbs mean 'to provide X/someone with accomodation'. If so, please note that this sematics is typical of locatum verbs (e.g., beurrer/to butter = 'to provide the surface (e.g., the bread) with butter'; seller/to saddle = 'to provide the location (e.g., the horse) with a saddle'). In contrast, location verbs do not have this semantics: e.g., emboteuiller/to bottle does not mean 'to provide X with bottle(s)' but rather 'to put X into bottle(s)'.
    – Mitomino
    Commented May 24, 2020 at 23:05

1 Answer 1


Possible examples:

  • carcero, carcerare. Lewis and Short has an entry defining it as follows:

    to imprison, incarcerate (post-class.), Salv. Prov. 2, p. 53; Auct. Prog. Aug. 29.

    Pretty clearly based on the location noun carcer, and the entry seems to clearly define it as a location verb. I haven't examined the citations.

  • corono, coronare. Lewis and Short has an entry including the following definition:

    II. Meton., to surround, encompass, enclose something in a circular form, to wreathe: “cervices collumque,” Lucr. 2, 802: “Silva coronat aquas cingens latus omne,” Ov. M. 5, 388; so id. ib. 9, 335: “castra suggesta humo (previously praecingit),” Prop. 4 (5), 4, 8. cf.: “omnem abitum custode,” Verg. A. 9, 380; and: “nemus densā statione,” Stat. Th. 2, 526: “solem itineribus (stellarum),” Vitr. 9, 4.

    I think the semantic fit is a bit less clear, but the glosses of "encompass" and "enclose" suggest to me that it could be interpreted as a location verb based on the noun corona.

  • vestio, vestire, from vestis. Not a strong example, as it depends on whether you view clothes as a "location" (this may be a stretch, but "hook" doesn't seem like a prototypical location to me either).

  • Thanks for your examples! As for the second one, which is by far more attested than the former (rare and post. classical), my first impression would be to analyze it as an extension of a locatum verb (i.e., 'to provide X with a corona') rather than of a location verb (i.e., 'to put X in a corona'). Same with the verb vestire. Note that in locatum verbs the surface or the location (to be covered) is expressed by the direct object.
    – Mitomino
    Commented May 24, 2020 at 17:08

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