Could the ex- signify 'without' in the OED below? Or did English misuse it in 1b below?

1. In Latin phrases (some of which are in English written as single words), as ex animo n., ex parte adj., extempore v., ex-voto n., etc.


 b. With sense ‘without,’ ‘exclusive of’; esp. in phrase ex dividend (abbreviated ex div. or x.d.), used with reference to sales of stocks or shares to indicate that the dividend next to be paid is not included in the sale. So formerly ex interest (abbreviated ex int., ex in., x.i.); also ex new (ex n., x.n.), intimating that the right to an allotment of new shares or stock is not included in the sale.

I descry nothing on 'without' on pp 690-691 on Oxford Latin Dictionary (2012 2 ed).

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My research on 'ex-dividend date' spurred this question.

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  • 2
    BTW English without shows the same semantic development from an older meaning "outside" (cf. within).
    – TKR
    May 14, 2020 at 17:44

1 Answer 1


Under ex- (the prefix, not the preposition), it says at the very end:

it also has a privative force (exsanguis, exanimo)

Here "has privative force" should be read as "means 'without'". I see no mention of a similar meaning under the preposition.

I would construe the privative meaning of the prefix as coming from "from". The privative use of the prefix seems to refer to something being taken away, not never having had something. That is, exsanguis seems to be someone who has lost blood, not someone who never had blood; the prefix thus indicates loss rather than lack, at least primarily. There are probably deviations from this prototype, but further analysis of this point belongs in a separate question.

  • I tend to agree with your conclusion "the prefix thus indicates loss rather than lack". However, I'd prefer to say "the prefix thus primarily indicates loss rather than lack". In other words, you're probably right when considering the prototypical sense but your statement is probably too strong when dealing with derived senses (figurative ones included: cf. perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/… ). Gaffiot also nicely captures the different senses with different attested examples: lexilogos.com/latin/gaffiot.php?q=exsanguis
    – Mitomino
    May 15, 2020 at 0:25
  • @Mitomino I agree, and I made it softer. The last paragraph was meant to be my first quick impression of how the preposition would give rise to that meaning of the prefix. Studying the difference between lack and loss deserves a separate question.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    May 15, 2020 at 7:01

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