The adjective fessus (wearied, tired, fatigued, worn out, weak, feeble, infirm) sounds and looks like it could well be a participle. If there is a verb, I would assume it to mean something in the direction of "to weaken" or "to burden". Is there such a verb, or has there ever been one? I found no suitable verb starting with fed- or fet-. The meanings and conjugations of fetare and fetere do not match. The verb fendere could be suitable, but it seems to survive only in compounds (offendere, defendere), and the past participle seems to be fensus.

I know that proving non-existence is hard. If you think there is no such verb, it is perfectly acceptable if you argue why.

This is related to the later question about the difference between fessus and defessus.


1 Answer 1



There is a verb fatīscō, fatīscere, —, ???, meaning to fall apart or collapse. (Sometimes it also acts like a deponent verb, fatīscor, fatīscī, with the same meaning.) But it's practically nonexistent in the past tense, and doesn't have a proper perfect system.

Fessus could be considered a perfect participle for fatīscō, with the inchoative -isc- removed and a vowel change. But there isn't much evidence for this except the similar meanings; I haven't found any ancient authors mentioning that they were the same verb.

There is also the verb fatīgō "to tire out" and the adverb affatim "considered to be enough", which could come from a noun *fatis meaning something like "tiredness". But no such noun is attested anywhere. Servius's Commentary on the Aeneid mentions *fatim once, but other than that only the derived forms survive.

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    De Vaan indeed connects fessus, fatisco, fatigo (the headword is the last of these, p. 204-5). The vowel of fessus is odd -- he derives it by analogy from the compound form defessus.
    – TKR
    Commented Dec 21, 2016 at 4:06

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