I recently mentioned to someone the mnemonic I'd learned for the locative: "cities, towns, islands smaller than Rhodes, and domus and rus". In other words, only the names of cities, towns, and small islands, plus two common nouns, were able to take the locative case.

To my surprise, though, they had learned a different mnemonic, ending in "domus, rus, and humus". And another chimed in that focus could also take the locative.

Is there a complete list of common nouns which have commonly-accepted locative forms? (I'm looking primarily for Classical Latin, but earlier or later citations are fine also, so long as the locative wasn't productive at that time.)


3 Answers 3


I don't know of a complete list, but Albert Hoefer has an extensive one:


ubi, ibi, hic, illic

However, I doubt these are true locatives. See de Vaan on ubi:

ubi 'where' [adv.]...PIt. *kwu-þ/fei 'where'. It. cognates: O. puf, U. pufe, pufe [adv.] 'where' < *kwu-b/dhei. PIE *kwu-dhi/-bhi 'where.' IE cognates: Skt. kuham OAv. kuda 'where'...

Theoretically, ubi can reflect *kwubhei or *kwudhei. The suffix *-bhi would be the PIE ins[trumental] ending, whereas *-dhei could be an Italic innovation.

The long i ending on the ubi etc. seems to have lead to Hoefer making them all locatives, but I don't know if that holds up.

Common nouns:

terrae, militiae, viciniae, belli, humi, domi, foci, crastini (die), ruri, tempori, vesperi, and luci

I've yet to come across someone else adding another to any list.

I have to eat crow. Seems plenty of people do add animi, though some point out it could be a genitive. But sources for it being a locative include Bennett, Oakley, Jones & Sidwell, and Duckworth.

  • Very interesting! I've never thought of ubi and ibi as having cases; what distinguishes a locative ubi from a non-locative ubi? (Or is it the locative case of some other pronoun?)
    – Draconis
    Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 16:31
  • Old Latin also had senati 'in the senate', whether that's relevant or not.
    – Anonym
    Commented Jun 30, 2017 at 5:32
  • You missed a i in "militae", it has to be "militiae". What about the following words in the article: noctu, lucu, die? Are they not important here?
    – Cyb3rKo
    Commented Dec 8, 2020 at 17:20
  • Or are those words just never used?
    – Cyb3rKo
    Commented Dec 28, 2020 at 12:45
  • @Cyb3rKo I always took those to be ablative of time rather than a proper locative. For comparison, domus's locative is domi or rarely (per A&G) domui, but as far as I can tell isn't domo or domu, though at some point it becomes difficult for them to be distinguished.
    – cmw
    Commented Dec 31, 2020 at 3:21

I would add other two words now crystallised as adverbs: diu (during the day) is the old locative for dies-diei and noctu (at night) which is the analogic locative for nox-noctis. See the expression "diu noctuque". The locative was intended to express not only spatial position but also a temporal one.

  • Great answer, but a bit surprising to me. Could you add a reference? Thanks.
    – Figulus
    Commented Nov 16, 2023 at 22:31
  • Sure, you can check thic thread latin.stackexchange.com/questions/11024/… where you can find an explanation of the common origin of the words Deus, Zeus and Dies.
    – Davide
    Commented Nov 18, 2023 at 12:36
  • In here google.com/… (it is a webiste from the University of Bologna, Italy): Plauto, Anfitrione, arg. II. It is in italian: Page 6 the note explaining "hac noctu" mentions that noctu is the analogic form from diu, old locative of dies
    – Davide
    Commented Nov 18, 2023 at 12:54

Aren't you confusing the idea of 'motion to' with that of actual location?

'Motion to' usually has ad + accusative, the exceptions being those in various mnemonics similar to those you quote: cities, towns, small islands, domus, rus and humus (I've never come across focus in such a list, but wouldn't rule it out). Thus, Romam and NOT ad Romam (which means 'near Rome') 'to Rome', and so on. The critical size of the island of Rhodes is questionable, and my guess is that using ad depended entirely on the writer's idea of an island's importance.

The locative simply indicates, as you might expect, place where, a position without the idea of motion to it. It takes its form regularly from a genitive or ablative, according to declension, for which the rules are to be found in any elementary grammar. Romae means 'at Rome'; Athenis, 'at Athens'.

There are a few irregularities to be learnt, such as domi for 'at home' (where domus, the 4th Decl. genitive might have been expected) and militiae, 'in battle' or 'on the battlefield'. Such a list as you ask for would probably be limited to the few exceptions of whatever mnemonic (or maybe aide-memoire?) you choose.

[Edit following responses]:

I'm quite baffled by the responses (below) to this answer. No noun "takes" a locative, but it can certainly can adopt a locative form (e.g. Romae), where appropriate, to indicate a "place where" — including those on Draconis's list. Motion towards a place is quite a different thing, usually indicated by ad (sometimes in) + accusative, but there are exceptions where the preposition is omitted: these are listed in (and are the purpose of) Draconis's mnemonic, and in these cases the preposition, if used, indicates proximity: ad Romam, for instance, means 'near Rome'

  • 3
    Sorry, but where is Draconis confusing anything? Most certainly you can have Romae, "at Rome."
    – cmw
    Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 20:52
  • 7
    @TomCotton I learned the mnemonic as "nouns that take the locative", since to the best of my knowledge the locative is only used for such nouns (the same nouns which use bare accusative for motion toward, and bare ablative for motion from). For e.g. "Italia" I would use ad for motion toward, ab for motion from, and in for place where, never a locative. I may very well be wrong on this, in which case that would make a good answer.
    – Draconis
    Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 21:30
  • 3
    @TomCotton I don't think that's accurate. The nouns he listed are ones that take a locative: domi, ruri, Romae, and Rhodi all are locatives, with few others (foci and humi as his acquaintance mentioned, militiae as you did) not part of his mnemonic. I don't think the accusative of motion is so limited.
    – cmw
    Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 21:43
  • 3
    @TomCotton While that may be the case, it is also the case that Draconis' list is for nouns that take the locative (place which) in addition to *in + abl. You are simply mistaken that this thread has anything to do with motion at all.
    – cmw
    Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 15:20
  • 6
    Correct me if I'm wrong (@Draconis), but I thought the question was "What nouns other than some place names have attested locatives?" and any discussion of motion is a sidetrack.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 16:13

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