From this answer and Allen & Greenough §493, I understand that Latin does not have a perfect active participle. But on Wiktionary, I see the following usage note in the entry on the suffix -vus:

Originally forming the perfect active participle, as in alvus ‎(“entity having nourished”), clīvus ‎(“entity having leaned”), gnāvus ‎(“having known”).

It's not clear if this is meant to suggest that Latin had a perfect active participle at one point, or if it only existed in Proto-Indo-European.

What is the history of the perfect active participle in Latin? Did Classical Latin or Old Latin ever have such a thing, or did it die out in Proto-Italic or prior?

  • I've heard deponent perfect participles described as "active" before (like locutus or hortatus), but that doesn't seem relevant to the PIE question.
    – brianpck
    Commented Aug 31, 2016 at 14:51

1 Answer 1


Wiktionary seems to be wrong. De Vaan derives clīvus and gnāvus from forms with the PIE suffix *-wo-, which is not the same as the pf. ppl. suffix *-wos-; he derives alvus by metathesis from an earlier aulos. Weiss lists the first two along with many others under nouns formed with the suffix -uo-.

The PIE perfect participle was athematic and had *-wōs in the masc. nom. sg. It's hard to see how such a form would end up in the Latin second declension; you'd expect a paradigm ending in -ōs, -uris, or perhaps by analogy looking like flōs, flōris or honor, honōris.

  • Are there any Latin words that do contain the perfect participle suffix?
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Commented Aug 30, 2016 at 20:52
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    Can this be extended generally to say, then, that no form of Latin ever had a present active participle? Commented Aug 31, 2016 at 13:55
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    @JoonasIlmavirta Not to my knowledge; I can't think of any likely candidates, anyway.
    – TKR
    Commented Aug 31, 2016 at 16:44
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    @Nathaniel I believe so. I don't think the other Italic languages have any vestige of such a form either, though I could be wrong about that.
    – TKR
    Commented Aug 31, 2016 at 16:45
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    @Hugh I should have said "perfect" rather than "present" in my Aug 31 comment for consistency. My understanding is that they are related, but I shouldn't have confused things here. Commented Sep 6, 2016 at 19:23

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