The title of the character Shadow the Hedgehog is The Ultimate Lifeform. As for a translation of this, I ultimately decided upon "Ens Ultimatus." But, should "ens" be masculine or neuter? It seems to describe a particular masculine being, but perhaps it should be neuter to describe him as compared to other organisms of either gender, usually neuter as being animals. Basically, is a being expressed as neuter because it is merely an existence of a thing, or is it masculine because of the aforementioned being?

I'm not exactly dying to hear that it doesn't matter, so feel free to delete this question if there are no usages of this word to describe a person or personified being.

PS: I'm back!


2 Answers 2


Ens ut nomen and ens ut participium are found in medieval works, used in both metaphysical and descriptive senses: "existence or reality thought of as things" as opposed to "existence or reality thought of as action/process". But, as an attempt at classical Latin, your version looks completely wrong to me.

In classical Latin the verb sum famously has no present participle although, had it existed, it would very probably have been ens, entis, which is echoed in, for instance, praesens. Lewis & Short quote ens as "a thing; formed, like essentia, after the Gr. ousia, by Flavius (or Fabianus), [and] acc. to Quint. 8, 3, 33 its first recorded appearance was in an attribution by Priscian to Caesar." Smith and (earlier) Riddle, their predecessors, follow Forcellini with something similar. All refer, I believe, to the first recorded usage from classical literature of ens in the sense ens ut participium. I can't give chapter and verse for this without a deal of research, but the source may be Caesar's supposed regretting the lack of a present participle for sum in his lost treatise on grammatical analogy. It seems to me quite wrong to rely on this single reference; perhaps the better word to use is animal or even animans, as Ovid (Met. XV, 90) has in alterius animantem animantis vivere leto (there are similar usages in other authors).

The adjective that you were thinking of is not ultimatus, but ultimus (the superlative of a supposed obselete word ultus). However, postremus, the superlative of posterus is nearer to what you want.

I suggest that a more apt translation would be animans postremus, for which you can vary the gender according to your actual context.

  • Okay, scratch that. This answer is the accepted one. Thanks for the examples! The previous answer is fine but it doesn't really give examples, which I didn't necessarily expect. +1! Commented May 9, 2018 at 13:26
  • @MiddleSchoolHistorian I agree that this is the better answer. I had not looked at the adjective closely, just focusing on gender. Indeed ultimus or ultimum is the way to go if you want to use a word like that.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Commented May 10, 2018 at 11:18

Welcome back!

The word ens is a present participle of esse. That tells what the word means ("being", "something that is", "thing") and how it's declined. The declension is that of a participle: all genders look alike in singular nominative, so ens could be any gender.

Both genders are grammatical. The question is which one is a better semantic fit. Either one is possible, depending on what you want to emphasize. I vote for neuter. The best analogous word I can think of is chaos, which is neuter and could be used to mean something close to "the ultimate lifeform".

Choosing neuter seems to emphasize the primordial and shapeless nature of the being, if that's accurate here. If it's closer to a human or any other typical animal, then masculine is more appropriate.


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