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24 votes
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Why is the constellation Ursa Minor instead of Ursus Minor?

Greek ἄρκτος is grammatically feminine, both in the meaning “bear” (of either sex) and as the name of the constellation. Latin has ursa for “bear” (of either sex), but also ursus specifically for a ...
fdb's user avatar
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20 votes
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Why are there no native Latin words with a Z?

It's because Z was borrowed from Greek. While, as the other posters point out, archaic Latin had a Z, it had disappeared due to sound changes. It was then forgotten and then borrowed from Greek to ...
cmw's user avatar
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20 votes
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When and why did the ablative form?

The Latin ablative case represents a merger of three earlier Proto-Indo European (PIE) cases: the ablative (sometimes referred to as the 'from' case, because it was used to express ideas of source, ...
cnread's user avatar
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15 votes

When and why did the ablative form?

This is a very abbreviated answer, which I will intend to expand on in the future (unless others get in there before me). The short answer is that the ablative didn't replace any earlier case - it ...
varro's user avatar
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13 votes
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Are "sex" and "sexus" etymologically related?

The gist of Au101's answer is confirmed by de Vaan's Etymological Dictionary. First, regarding sex, in Proto-Italic and Proto-Indo-European, he gives: PIt. *seks 'six', *seks-to- 'sixth' PIE *(s)...
Nathaniel is protesting's user avatar
12 votes

What does the "Lorem Ipsum" mean?

The text is not a coherent passage of Latin but rather is derived from sections 1.10.32 and 1.10.33 of "de Finibus Bonorum et Malorum" (The Extremes of Good and Evil) by Cicero, written in 45 BC. This ...
dbmag9's user avatar
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11 votes

Are "sex" and "sexus" etymologically related?

No, I don't think so, and for this I can actually rely on etymonline which is a fine resource, even if linguistics students are discouraged from using it for their homework. The entry for the English ...
Au101's user avatar
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10 votes
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-eris, -oris, -uris?

The usual explanation given in historical grammars, e.g. those of Weiss, Sihler, and Buck, is that the -er- stems result from regular sound change, while the -or- stems result from analogical ...
TKR's user avatar
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10 votes
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Are "vir" and "virgo" etymologically related?

The etymology of 'virgo' proposed by Ledo-Lemos, and rejected by Vaan (without further explanations), does not explain Lat. virgo as a compound from "*uiH-ro- (man) and *gʷén-eH₂- (woman)", ...
F.J. Ledo-Lemos's user avatar
10 votes

Are "vir" and "virgo" etymologically related?

Most likely not. According to de Vaan, there are two hypotheses on the etymology of virgo. virgo, -inis 'girl of marriageable age; virgin' [f. (m.) ri\ (Andr.-l·) Derivatives: virginalis 'of a ...
ktm5124's user avatar
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10 votes

Te tero, Roma, manu nuda, date tela, latete

The oldest mention I can find is from 1587: Chronicon Alberti. Helmaestadii 1587 (Iacobus Lucius), p. 20. https://books.google.fi/books?id=UZAB47bD684C&pg=PA20 It's Caesar again: Cum Romam et ...
Tuomo Sipola's user avatar
9 votes
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How productive was the participle in -menus in Latin?

Weiss cites, besides alumnus, femina (from a root meaning 'give suck'), calumnia (derived from *kalwo-mno-, from the root of calvor 'deceive'), and possibly also columna and the divine name Vortumnus (...
TKR's user avatar
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9 votes

Why are there no native Latin words with a Z?

Rex Wallace argues that the letter z “remained part of the alphabetic series until the third century BCE even though it seems to have been used sparingly – if at all – in Very Old and Old Latin ...
Alex B.'s user avatar
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8 votes

Where did the Romans think Latin comes from?

Dionysius of Halicarnassus, in his Ῥωμαϊκὴ Ἀρχαιολογία (Roman Antiquities) 1.90, explains that Latin was actually a dialect of Greek, corrupted by contact with European barbarians: Ῥωμαῖοι δὲ φωνὴν ...
Draconis's user avatar
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8 votes
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"Memento quod es homo"

Francis Bacon is referencing previous "remembrances" The beginning of the epilogue to The King's Two Bodies: A Study in Medieval Political Theology, by Ernst Kantorowicz, references this quotation ...
brianpck's user avatar
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7 votes

Is there any connection between "ave" (as in Ave Cesar) and "aveo"?

The greeting (h)ave is not related to the verb aveō 'to desire', and any dictionary that puts it under aveō 'to fare well' is reconstructing an unattested and etymologically nonsensical lemma. It's a ...
Cairnarvon's user avatar
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7 votes
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Origin of the following phrase: Ambulatoria enim est voluntas hominum usque ad vitae supremum exitum

The phrase is actually slightly different: ambulatoria enim est voluntas defuncti usque ad vitae supremum exitum. This means: For the will of a dead man is changeable until his final departure ...
brianpck's user avatar
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7 votes
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Comparing decem and -decim

It might be a type of metathesis: *undecem > *undicem > undecim. This is apparently irregular, but metathesis often is. I don't know for sure, but I was able to find a source that suggests this, ...
Asteroides's user avatar
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7 votes

Latin passive endings: Why is -mini sticking out

As varro says, the question is debated. There are no r-forms in Latin, and we have no 2pl. passives attested in Sabellic, unfortunately. I think Sihler's account is rather farfetched; a much simpler ...
TKR's user avatar
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7 votes
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Where did the Romans think Latin comes from?

For one last answer, it seems another author has quoted a source no less Roman than Cato the Elder himself (though Cato's original doesn't survive): ὁ Ῥωμύλος, ἢ οἱ κατὰ αὐτόν, δείκνυται κατ' ἑκεῖνο ...
Draconis's user avatar
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6 votes

What is the origin for the act of "sex" and definition?

Latin had a word sex, but it didn't have the same meaning as in English. Instead, it's cognate with English "six", and means the same thing. English "sex" comes from Latin sexus, -ūs, which comes ...
Draconis's user avatar
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6 votes

How productive was the participle in -menus in Latin?

The ending *-menos was not productive in that form in Latin. There are conjectures that it is the source of certain word endings. Possible occurrence in -ndus words Jeremy Brightbill's review in the ...
Asteroides's user avatar
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5 votes
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Latin passive endings: Why is -mini sticking out

Sihler in his New Comparitive Grammar of Greek and Latin considers the problem "one the enigmas of classical scholarship", so I don't think there is any generally agreed-on answer. He does offer the ...
varro's user avatar
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5 votes
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Source of quote attributed to Suidas

This page ascribes the quote to the scholia on Aristophanes Clouds. The quote can be found here in Greek.
TKR's user avatar
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5 votes

Where did the Romans think Latin comes from?

For yet another account, more pure-Roman than Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Quintilian (1.6) seems to agree that Latin is close to Aeolian: Etymologia, quae verborum originem inquirit, a Cicerone dicta ...
Draconis's user avatar
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5 votes
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What does the “word origin” mean?

I'm going to take a shot in the dark and guess that you're using Whitaker's Words, since those look like Whitaker's origin codes. Each letter in the code indicates something about the word: in order, ...
Draconis's user avatar
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5 votes
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What is the origin of "Wonder begets wisdom?"

The most famous passage where Plato treats of this is in the Theaetetus, 155c-d, which is a dialog about the nature of knowledge. At one point, we have the following interchange between Socrates and ...
brianpck's user avatar
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4 votes
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Quinquies and quinquiens

The etymologically expected form is -iens, but since the vowel preceding the ns was regularly lengthened, the pronunciation would be [ie:ns], in which the vowel was secondarily nasalized to [iẽ:ns]. ...
varro's user avatar
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