I would like to compare the two adjectives niveus and nivosus derived from nix, "snow". My prior understanding of these words was that niveus is "snow-white" and nivosus is "snowy", but L&S tells me that also niveus means "snowy".

My guess is that niveus means that there is snow without commenting on the amount, whereas nivosus means that there is a lot of snow. Is this guess correct?

Does some dictionary offer a comparison of these two adjectives? Is there some example (artificial if original ones are not available) that contrasts niveus and nivosus?

1 Answer 1


In general, the -osus ending indicates plenty. Lacrimosa isn't just "teary-eyed," but weepy. Same with nivosa. Niveus is often used with mountains to describe the snow-topped peaks, and from the quality of snow (i.e. whiteness), it is used to describe things in English we'd describe as "snow-white" - teeth, milk, togas, fleece (as in the old nursery rhyme). Nivosa, on the other hand, is used to describe places where there is a lot of snow - northern climates (Scythia is given as an example in L&S), wintry storms. You wouldn't describe your teeth as nivosus without some humorous characterization: face full of snow, perhaps, on account of a snowball.

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