The difference between transversarium and transversus confuses me, this occurs with

  • processus (masculine) transversus
  • foramen (neutri) transversarium

where the endings, sus and sa-ri-um, are different such that

trans-ver-sus (3 syllables)
trans-ver-sa-ri-um (5 syllables)

and their stems are different, trans-ver and trans-ver-sa-ri.

The terms occurs in the cervical vertebra C6.

Please, explain the difference in the suffices and stems.

Are the differences in suffixes and stems due to some declination rule?

1 Answer 1


While you're right that transversus is masculine and transversarium is neuter, the latter is not genitive, but these are actually two different words.

The first can be broken into three parts: trans-, vers-, and -us.

The second, however, into four: trans-, vers-, -ari-, -um.

The first is a pure past participle from transverto ("to turn away"). Here you would expect that the processus itself turns away.

Transversarium though adds the adjectival infix -ari-, which denotes a relationship to the verb transverto. This relationship could take a few forms, but the basic one is that it allows something else to be transversus.

Now, medical terminology is highly idiomatic, and I'm not a surgeon or medical historian, but if this website is accurate and I'm understanding it correctly, I think this bolded part explains the meaning:

The transverse processes are each pierced by the foramen transversarium, which, in the upper six vertebræ, gives passage to the vertebral artery and vein and a plexus of sympathetic nerves.

It thus allows the vertebral artery and vein to "traverse" what I'm assuming are the transverse processes, though again, I am not a doctor, so hopefully someone with more medical knowledge can explain the action in greater detail.

A quick note on endings, the neuter genitive plural of transversarium is actually transversariorum (a mouthful!). transversus and transversarium are both 1-2 adjectives, and therefore follow the same inflection pattern, which you can see here. Note that the second -s- is a part of the stem, not a part of the ending.

  • 1
    It might be helpful to mention other forms like transversum and transversarius to show that both adjectives have all genders (and cases). The endings are actually the same, so the only difference is in -ari-.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Feb 22, 2021 at 17:48
  • 1
    @JoonasIlmavirta I added a link instead. I'm a fan of not habitually reinventing the wheel! But feel free to edit to clarify if you think it really needs it.
    – cmw
    Feb 22, 2021 at 17:59

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.