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I would like to exclaim in Latin, "how morbid!" This came up because just recently I read something morbid. But how would I say this? I am guessing that this is possible:

Quam morbidus!

But when I made this guess, I wasn't sure which gender to assign the adjective. Is there a rule about which gender to assign the adjective in simple exclamations like these?

I have thought about this question a bit, and I think it might depend on the referent. If the implication is, "How morbid (you are)!" then it makes sense to assign the gender of the person being referred to. But if the implication is "How morbid (that is)!" then perhaps it should be neuter.

Look forward to hearing your thoughts. Also, if "morbidus" is not the best adjective to use, feel free to suggest a better one.

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    Interestingly, I couldn't find any words at all to describe the modern definitions morbid, unless one substituted it with obscene, gross, or creepy. – Middle School Historian Mar 9 '17 at 23:58
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    @Rafael That seems safe. But I would also be interested to know if there is an established expression for this in classical Latin. It's something we say frequently in English, so I wonder if the Romans ever expressed the thought. – ktm5124 Mar 10 '17 at 1:57
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    The closest exclamation in classical sources that I found with a quick search was Seneca, De Ira, 3.28.1: O quam bonum tempus in re mala perdis! I expected to find something in Plautus, but after five plays there is no sign of quam exclamations. – Joonas Ilmavirta Mar 10 '17 at 10:14
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    On the lines of agis quam pessime (you couldn't do worse), vale quam optime! (all the best to you!), why not quam morbose ? – Tom Cotton Mar 10 '17 at 13:51
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    @ktm5124 A verb here is no more necessary than in English, but adding dicis is fine. – Tom Cotton Mar 10 '17 at 20:17
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A possible construction (I think more likely than quam) would be the accusative of exclamation (Allen and Greenough 397d):

O morbidum!

This is assuming a neuter (or masculine) referent. But you could add a specific noun, e.g. O morbidam fabulam "What a morbid story!"

Probably there are better choices than morbidus, which L&S call "rare and only ante-class. and post-Aug.", but I'm not sure what they are (especially without more context).

  • Thanks! Great to learn about the accusative of exclamation. – ktm5124 Mar 11 '17 at 3:10
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    @ktm5124 We have the same in English, too. It's "O poor me!" and not "O poor I!" – C. M. Weimer Mar 16 '17 at 18:41

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