Today, as I browsed Quora, I saw a question with an (apparently) blatant case error. I opened it, and curiously, one answer stated it could have been a correct case, since, while there is indeed "spiritus", fourth declension masculine, there is also a "spiritum", second declension neuter. Does such a word actually exist and, if so, does it mean "spirit" like "spiritus" or something else, and in the latter case, what does it mean?

  • It doesn't appear in Lewis & Short, at least, but it's hard to prove a negative.
    – Draconis
    Commented Aug 19, 2018 at 16:06
  • 1
    Several dictionaries mention spiritum, -i n. Itala act. 16.7 (versioni della Bibbia diverse dalla Vulgata)
    – Alex B.
    Commented Aug 19, 2018 at 17:33

1 Answer 1


Not in standard Classical Latin.

It's difficult to prove a negative, but Lewis and Short make no mention of it, and the Packhum corpus shows no evidence of forms like spīritī or spīritō.


L&S cite an inscription, Inscr. Orell. 3030, which has a dative spīritō (instead of spīrituī). In the comments, Alex B cites a dictionary of later Latin with an entry for spīritum, -ī. So this form definitely existed, even if Cicero wouldn't have used it.

  • I was wondering if Italian spirito (pl. -i) came from that form. As for Ecclesiastical Latin, I've never seen it
    – Rafael
    Commented Aug 19, 2018 at 19:10
  • @Rafael The Italian nouns mostly come from Latin accusatives like spiritum, which would look like that in both second and fourth declension. The similarity to ablatives and datives is coincidental. See this older question.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Commented Aug 19, 2018 at 19:31
  • @JoonasIlmavirta AFAIK, the mechanism is more or less the same as Spanish, but Spanish kept the -u (espíritu). It might be a 4th-declension thing or an archaism, though
    – Rafael
    Commented Aug 19, 2018 at 19:49

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