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I'm looking to use "Night bird" as a name or title for something. I don't know which, if any, of the following would be correct:

  • Noctis Avem
  • Avem Noctis
  • Avis Noctem
  • Avem nox
  • etc.

What rules come into play when this is being used as a name or title of something, and is there more than one correct way to phrase it?

16

If you want to say "night bird" with the words "night" (nox) and "bird" (avis), you should say "bird of the night", avis noctis. When you decline this expression, noctis (of the night) remains in the genitive case whereas avis takes the required case.

A more Latin way would be to use an adjective. I would go with nocturnus (nightly, nocturnal or nighttime). Thus "night bird" would be avis nocturna (literally "nightly bird"). Here both words are declined, since we have an adjective attribute.

If you want to use it as a title, the nominative (undeclined) case is the best choice. Therefore I suggest avis nocturna.

5

I second the recommendation of avis nocturna. (It would also be possible to say nocturna avis.)

If you wanted something more poetic, you could also go with something like avis tenebrosa, which would translate to something like "gloomy bird" or "bird of gloom" or "dark bird."

  • 2
    For poetic flair, very little beats vespertina (although it may be hard to fit it into the metre)... – Wtrmute May 12 '17 at 17:15
4

«Noctis avem», in Ovid's Metamorphoses XI 24, about (presumably) an owl.

  • 6
    This is a perfect find, but could you expand your answer so it is a little less elliptical? – brianpck Dec 1 '17 at 18:06
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    I second @brianpck: Those two words from Ovidius might be what lead to the mistranslation in the question, and it would be nice to flesh that story out a little. But this is indeed a great find! – Joonas Ilmavirta Dec 1 '17 at 22:10

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