I understand nolle to be short for non volle, i.e. "not to wish/want".

I thought noli was the imperative form of this: non vo—er, wait a minute, volo has no imperative!

So, what's noli? The usual explanation is that it literally means "Be unwilling", but what about the missing voli?

  • 1
    Curiously, nōlī has been semantically bleached to the point that nōlī velle is attested for the actual "be unwilling" meaning. – Draconis Jul 23 '17 at 4:36
  • 1
    And even more curiously, the only "imperative" uses I've found use the second person subjunctive velīs rather than *volī – Draconis Jul 23 '17 at 4:42
  • Related question: What is the imperative of velle? – Joonas Ilmavirta Jul 26 '17 at 14:10

I suppose in all the dictionaries it appears:

Noli: Imperative present of nolo.

Nolle: Infinitive present of nolo .

Nolo: (...) Noli is used as an imperative in prohibitions (with similar words).

It is necessary to consider that there are "twist idiomatic" in the expressions of:

  • Implore.
  • Order.
  • Prohibition.

These forms are usually addressed in the grammar books in the sections dedicated to the imperative.

Noli is one of the 4 "twist idiomatic" used in classical literature: Noli (nolite) + infinitive: noli (nolite) facere, do not do it. It was (and must be considered) a courteous prohibition, do not want, do not want to do, in which the imperative of nolo softens the negative order. The use made forget that primitive nuance of courtesy.

  • The most frequent turn is: Cicero: nolite existumare, do not go to believe. Noli putare, do not think.

  • In poetry developed an analogical spin: parce + infinitive. Parce timere, do not be afraid.

Other forms of classical prose ban (summary):

  • Ne (cave) + perfect subjunctive.

  • Ne (cave) + present subjunctive.

  • Ne + imperative.

In addition, it would be necessary to take into account the imperfect and pluscuamperfect of subjunctive that reflect order or prohibition to the past, that is, what someone would have wanted someone to do or not in a given circumstance: faceres, to have done; fecisset, that would have done.

The forms of imperative of volo are realized by those of nolo, in fact nolo is especially frequent in imperative, see usage notes of nolo: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/nolo#Latin

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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