I have found different explanations for the meaning, but they all seem contradictory.

  1. It shows exaggeration of an existing adjective (atrōx < āter)
  2. It shows exaggeration of an existing verb (fĕrox < feriō)
  3. It means 'having such an appearance', akin to eye, oculus and -opsis (celōx < celer)
  4. It means 'having a stronger tendency towards something than the original adjective shows' (fĕrox < fērus)

1 Answer 1


Morphologically, it should be fer-ok-s (spelled ferox), -s being the nominative singular ending, and the suffix is actually -ok- (spelled -oc-) here.

The OLD (Oxford Latin Dictionary) says the following:

" -ox -ōcis adjl. suff Forms adjs. denoting appreance, as Gk βο-ῶπ-ις, (atrox, ferox); also in wider sense, perh. w. different origins (uelox)."

cf. Weiss 2020: 326

"ferōx 'fierce' (Plaut.+) < 'wild-looking' (ferus 'wild')" with the suffix -ōk-, "originally a root noun from the verbal root *h₃okʷ- 'see, look.' Cf Gk. γλαυκ-ώψ 'with gleaming eyes,' βο-ῶπ-ισ 'ox-eyed'" (cf. Leumann et al. 1977: 377, section 329.4)

Ernout and Meillet are more cautious and say "peut-être" (maybe; s.v. atrox), citing Schmidt 1889 (for Ancient Greek data?).

cf. Walde and Hofmann s.v. atrox.

de Vaan adds that "This can be disputed, but I see no better source for this suffix" (s.v. ferus).

  • 1
    Thanks a lot for your answer!
    – Cameron K.
    Sep 3, 2020 at 10:37

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