In the postscript to this answer, Varro comments:

…the L&S entry for ἰχθυβολος shows two possible accents, a paroxytone ἰχθυβόλος for an active meaning, and a proparoxytone ἰχθύβολος for a passive meaning. This type of distinction is regular for compound nouns of this type.

That's something I'd never come across before—I'm familiar with finite verb accents moving back as far as possible, and other accents sticking in fixed places, but never with an accent shifting to show active vs passive voice.

Which words do this? (I.e. what are "compound nouns of this type"?) And is it a well-known/common phenomenon?


In general, compounds in -ος of nouns or adverbs with transitive verb stems, with certain exceptions, do this. (Exceptions include nouns ending in ‐κος or ‐τος and certain verb stems such as ‐οχος, ‐αρχος and some others.)

There is a fuller description by H. W. Smyth here, you but may have to fiddle with your browser settings to be able to read it.

Here are some other interesting examples cited by Smyth:

πατροκτόνος "parricide" vs πατρόκτονος "slain by a father"
λιθοβόλος "throwing-stones" vs λιθόβολος "pelted by stones"
λαιμοτόμος "throat-cutting" vs λαιμότομος "with throat cut"

  • Excellent! Would you mind adding a couple examples?
    – Draconis
    Oct 11 '18 at 16:55
  • @Draconis Done.
    – varro
    Oct 11 '18 at 17:12

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