Augmentative, the opposite of diminutive, is a derived word that means greater size or extent. Diminutives are common and productive in Latin, but how about the opposite?

Some Romance languages have augmentatives similarly to diminutives like the Italian bambino > bambinone. Although such augmentative suffixes are found in Romance languages, I am not aware of them in Latin. Many languages I know use prefixes (e.g. "supermarket"), but that does not feel like classical Latin to me.

Is there a way to do augmentative derivations in classical Latin? If not, how about later forms of Latin? Any partial insights are welcome, as I appear to be all out of ideas.

  • Judith Slaying Holofernes (Artemisia Gentileschi, Naples) shows neither Judith nor Artemisia growing more gentle.
    – Hugh
    Commented Dec 31, 2018 at 21:26
  • 1
    The fact that (at least) Spanish and Italian share the augmentative suffix -on(e)- suggests that it could have that sense in Vulgar Latin.
    – Colin Fine
    Commented Jan 1, 2019 at 15:08
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    @ColinFine Indeed, there is strong indirect evidence of that. But how does one actually use that suffix and is it attested at all?
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Commented Jan 1, 2019 at 20:21
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    @JoonasIlmavirta: Wiktionary -o says "suffixed to nouns, forms cognomina and, in post-Classical Latin, nicknames and equivalent designations."
    – Colin Fine
    Commented Jan 1, 2019 at 21:07
  • I've always wondered whether patronus is an augmentative of pater. Big daddy.
    – Figulus
    Commented Aug 29, 2023 at 16:22

1 Answer 1


Augmentatives seem to me far less clear-cut than the diminutives:

.a. Obviously the comparatives and superlatives, -ior and -issimus.

.b. -osus for example formicosus – full of ants.

.c. Some of the inceptives seem to carry augmentative meaning:
děhisco, -hivi, (inf dehisse) gape, yawn.
fortesco -beome braver
possibly also obliviscor grow more oblivious (Happy New Year)

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