When speaking of the rights of and refering to the one to be conceived in Law we use "concepturus"

Which is the future active participle.

If we wanted to correctly speak of and refer to the one to be conceived shouldn't we use concipiendus (the passive participle)?

Are we actually refering to the one about to conceive; the future mother? Isn't the mother always feminine why don't we use conceptura if we are referring to the mother?

Edit follow up question (also posted as a reply in an answer here

Isn't the use of nasciturus (naturus) wrong? Shouldn't it too be nascendus instead? I never understood "morituri te salutant". Why not moriendus? How can the future active participle be used in the place of future passive participle?


Concipior 'to be conceived' appears to think of itself as a Deponent Verb according to Liber Primus, or, A First Book of Latin Exercises by Joseph Dana, A. M. (1827). p128 of 202 (= print 125)

The rule for participles of deponent verbs is from the National Archive course:

Deponent verbs have participles, formed in the same way as for normal verbs and the meaning is always active.

For example:

The future participle for sequor, sequi, secutus sum (3) ‘to follow’ is secuturus, -a, -um ‘about to follow’.

  • 3
    It looks like the plain-text version was confusingly laid out. It actually says that concipio is "to conceive" and concipior is "to be conceived". I updated the link to a format that's easier to read.
    – Ben Kovitz
    Aug 19 '21 at 2:10

The use of concepturus for a child that is not yet conceived is quite rare. Using Google, I find a handful of Spanish and Italian sources, such as this Italian legal dictionary:

Il termine designa colui che non è stato ancora concepito

In many places I found the term goes along with another term, nasciturus, a child that has been conceived but not yet born.

The future participle concepturus does indeed not mean “about to be conceived,” it means “about to conceive,” and I might add, if we are indeed talking about the conception of a child, it is an impossibility, because only the mother conceives a child, so if anything, it should be conceptura.

I can only conclude that this is a mistake brought about by the parallel with nasciturus. Nasci, with the irregular future participle nasciturus, is a deponent verb meaning “to be born.” Do not be irritated by the fact that the usual English translation is passive, that is arguably just a peculiarity of the English language. Thus nasciturus means “about to be born,” (nascituro also seems to be a common Italian term for “unborn child”) and it must have seemed logical to lawyers that a person about to be conceived would then be a concepturus.

  • Isn't the use of nasciturus (naturus) wrong? Shouldn't it too be nascendus instead? I never understood "morituri te salutant". Why not moriendus? How can the future active participle be used in the place of future passive participle? Aug 19 '21 at 21:29
  • No, it should not be nascendus! The gerundive retains its passive meaning even in deponent verbs. Thus it cannot be used with intransitive verbs, which nasci is (I cannot “be born my neighbour” etc.) except in impersonal use (nunc est nascendum = “it's time to be born” or whatever). As an aside, the gerundive has a rather tenuous connection with the future, plus it already has a perfectly nice name (gerundive), so I personally prefer not to call it a future passive participle. Aug 19 '21 at 22:02
  • How does that work? What happens with deponent verbs? Active becomes Passive and Passibe become impersonal or unusable? How can I recognize a deponent verb? When I encounter the future active participle of a deponent verb will it always carry the meaning of a future passive participle? What happens with the gerundive and it's connection with the future; why is it tenuous? Aug 19 '21 at 22:32
  • @GeorgeNtoulos That sounds like several more questions. I especially like "How can I recognize a deponent verb?" The quick explanation of deponent verbs, though, is that they have passive form but active meaning; their participles all have active meaning (except the gerundive).
    – Ben Kovitz
    Aug 20 '21 at 0:58
  • @GeorgeNtoulos Several good links regarding deponents habe already been given. As for the gerundive, well, take for example the sentence "Scelera Catliniae non sunt ferenda" -- what does this future active participle have to do with the future? But this is indeed a whole different can of worms... Aug 20 '21 at 17:57

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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