I know the Romans did derive verbs from nouns (laudare, finire, lucere…), but did they ever derive verbs from names? The Greeks did, for example forming homerizein (ὁμηρίζειν) from Homeros.

My understanding is that -izare, borrowed from Greek, was used (productively) in classical Latin. However, I have never seen it attached to a name in classical context.

For example, the verb latinizare is easy to understand, but would a word like this ever have been used by classical authors? (There are of course longer ways around this word, like ad linguam Latinam adaptare.) I would prefer answers from the Augustan era or earlier, but later ones are also interesting.

  • 1
    I seem to remember an example from Cicero, where he uses a personal name turned into a verb. But I don't remember anything else, sorry.
    – Cerberus
    Commented Mar 21, 2017 at 2:14

4 Answers 4


I have another entry for this exhibit that answers your question with a resounding yes.

Enter Plautus, in the Menaechmi, with three verbs derived from proper names in his prologue:

Atque hoc poetae faciunt in comoediis:
omnis res gestas esse Athenis autumant,
quo illud vobis graecum videatur magis;
ego nusquam dicam nisi ubi factum dicitur.
atque adeo hoc argumentum graecissat, tamen
non atticissat, verum sicilicissitat.

The -isso ending seems to be a Latinized (how meta of me!) version of the Greek -ιζω (-izō).

The meaning of these verbs was not immediately apparent to me, so I defer to the authority of Henry Thomas Riley's translation. Note that he inverts the order of the above two sentences:

And, in fact, this subject is a Greek one; still, it is not an Attic, but a Sicilian one. But in their Comedies the poets do this; they feign that all the business takes place at Athens, in order that it may appear the more Grecian to you. I will not tell you that this matter happened anywhere except where it is said to have happened.

He adds in a footnote the following:

Graecissat, Atticissat, Sicelissat: Perhaps these words might be more literally translated, "Graecize," "Atticize," and "Sicilicize."

Just imagine how wonderful life would be if words like "Sicilicize" were more frequently used!

  • 1
    So then rather than Latinificare or Latinizare we'd have Latinissare? Commented Apr 23, 2016 at 17:17
  • 2
    My experience is that Plautus reflects spoken patterns and often diverges from standard orthography: if you're writing in good ol' Ciceronian style, I'd recommend using -izo while knowing that such words were probably spoken by the masses as -isso. Just a conjecture, though.
    – brianpck
    Commented Apr 23, 2016 at 17:19
  • 1
    I imagine the -dz sound of a Greek zeta would be difficult for someone who never uses that sound otherwise
    – brianpck
    Commented Apr 23, 2016 at 17:20

I don’t know how far you want to stretch your definition of classical Latin, but Christianizo is used by Tertullian, and Judaizo in the Vulgata.

  • Thanks! This is a bit of a stretch for me, but still worth recording here. I (apparently correctly) assumed such a construction would appear in Christian Latin, but I was much less sure about Augustan or earlier language.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Commented Apr 22, 2016 at 20:23

Yes, they did.

Cicero derived the verb sullaturio "to imitate or play the part of Sulla" from the name of the famous antique dictator Sulla.


Proving non-existence is difficult, but in my (albeit limited) experience I've never seen -izō used in Classical Latin. The first verb-forming suffix that comes to mind is -ficō, derived from fāciō, applied to an adjective; the ancestor of English -ify. Latinificāre sounds a bit better than Latinizāre (which feels too Greek to me).

  • 3
    Have you seen PHI's concordance? Proving non-existence is (sort of) possible. Commented Apr 20, 2016 at 5:27
  • Thank you! Latinificare indeed sounds more Latin than latinizare. But do you know if the Romans ever attached -ficare to names? The name need not be Latium or the adjective Latinus derived from it.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Commented Apr 20, 2016 at 6:39
  • 1
    @JoonasIlmavirta and Draconis: rather that guessing you could use the "words ending with" option on Perseus.
    – fdb
    Commented Apr 22, 2016 at 20:21
  • @Nathaniel: Thanks for the link to the PHI on the Web, really appreciated! Commented May 4, 2017 at 4:37

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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