When answering a recent question about the prefix per-, I gave an example of a national adjective (Finnus) with a prefix, to produce Perfinni. If I attach a prefix to an adjective that always starts with a capital letter, how do I capitalize? It sounds most reasonable to capitalize the first letter of the prefix. Other options that come to mind (perfinni, perFinni, per-Finni) look worse. Is there a convention, and if yes, what is it?

Capitalization was not an ancient thing, but there might be some classical adjectives of this kind. At least Cisalpinus and Transrhenanus come to mind.

  • How about Per-Finnī?
    – Draconis
    Apr 4, 2017 at 22:40
  • @Draconis That's a possibility. It does sound a little like "Finns called Per" (it's a first name), though...
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Apr 4, 2017 at 22:53
  • 2
    Didn't you already answer your question with Cisalpinus?
    – cmw
    Apr 4, 2017 at 23:13
  • 3
    @Hugh In American English I've seen those with hyphens rather than camelcase: non-Euclidean, sub-Fahrenheit, non-Newtonian, hyper-Gaussian. (And I think they're supposed to be lowercase but I usually see those unit names capitalized.)
    – Draconis
    Apr 5, 2017 at 0:35
  • 1
    I think the version with the capital immediately after a lower-case letter is unacceptable in any language I know. The one with the hyphen looks decidedly Unlatin: it's English. I like Weimer's answer about the attached versions.
    – Cerberus
    Apr 5, 2017 at 2:26

1 Answer 1


This comes down to editorial practice and whether it's being used as a proper name or not.

So in Caesar's Gallic War, Seel capitalized both Cisalpina and Gallia, because it's Cisalpina Gallia, one place (my edition by Du Pontet has the same):

uos ex Cisalpina Gallia consulis sacramento rogasset

However, Rossbach left the C uncapitalized in his edition of the Periochae (same with the unknown TLL text and the presumably Paul Jal's Bude, but I don't have access to the latter at the moment):

M. Brutus, qui cisalpinam Galliam optinebat, a Cn. Pompeio occisus est.

When it's not used as a proper name, though, it seems to be uniformly uncapitalized, like with pergraecari. These all were taken from PHI:

Titus Maccius Plautus, Bacchides 813 Nic. Propterea hoc facio, ut suadeas gnato meo ut pergraecetur tecum, tervenefice. Chrys. O stulte, stulte, nescis nunc venire te;

Titus Maccius Plautus, Mostellaria 22, 64 corrumpe erilem ádulescentem óptumum; dies noctesque bibite, pergraecamini, amicas emite liberate, pascite date, si non estis. agite, porro pergite quoniam occepistis: bibite, pergraecamini, este, ecfercite vos, saginam caedite.

Titus Maccius Plautus, Poenulus 603 liberum ut commostraremus tibi locum et voluptarium, ubi ames, potes, pergraecere. Coll. Eu, edepol mortales malos. Agor. Ego enim docui. Mil. Quis te porro? Coll. Agite intro abite, Agorastocles,

Marcus Cornelius Fronto, fragmenta 12.1 parentum tuorum. Et pergraecari potius amoenis locis quam coerceri carcere viderentur.

Pergraecari is a verb meaning "to live like a Greek" (i.e. playfully, so "to revel"), whose root is Graecus, a proper adjective.

Based on this, I'd say put it in lower-case unless used as a substantive.

  • I'm not sure that ethnic adjectives like Graecus and Romanus must necessarily be capitalised; certainly they need not be in Neolatin languages like Spanish (example). Of course, mixed case is a late Mediaeval invention, so it is hard to say there is even a proper capitalisation strategy in Latin.
    – Wtrmute
    Apr 5, 2017 at 17:46
  • @Wtrmute French too doesn't capitalize those adjectives. Buy all that is why I pointed out that it comes down to editorial strategies. I don't think the original question meant to imply this was ancient.
    – cmw
    Apr 5, 2017 at 20:04

Your Answer

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

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