Compounds Verbs with Inter-

Inter- can appear as a prefix to verbs (and also to derived nouns, adjectives and adverbs). Where it appears, it often bears one of three general effects on the corresponding base verb—

1. Effect of Intervals

  • interaestuō—to boil slowly (bubble up from time to time)
  • interārescō—to decay (dry up little by little)
  • interdō—to give at intervals
  • interpurgō—to cleanse here and there
  • interbrādō—to scape here and there
  • intersileō—to remain silent in the meanwhile

2. Effect of Insertion

  • intercalō—to insert a day in the calendar
  • intercapiō—to take away (by coming between the object and its possessor)
  • intercēdō—to intervene
  • intercipiō—to intercept
  • interclāmō—to cry aloud amid
  • interfluō—to flow between
  • internascor—to grow among
  • interrogō—to interrogate
  • intersaepiō—to fence in
  • interveniō—to come between

3. Effect of Dissolution

  • intercīdō—to cut up
  • internoscō—to distinguish
  • interpolō—to spoil, corrupt
  • interprīmō—to squeeze or crush to pieces
  • interscindō—to tear asunder
  • interversor—to turn hither and thither

Of course, there is conceptual overlap amid these categories. Interrelations, if you will.


Compound Verbs with Intrā—

You would think, given the vast tribe of verbal compounds with inter- as a prefix, that a few species of intrā-compounds would also inhabit that wood of the Latin dictionary. In fact, they are highly endangered, perhaps even extinct. Here are a few compound adjectives and nouns that I discovered; the verbs were nowhere to be found.

  • intrābilis (adj)—possible to enter
  • intrāclusus (adj)—shut in, enclosed
  • intrāmeātus, -ūs (n)—a journey within
  • intrāmūrānus (adj)—within the walls
  • intrāneus (adj)—within

Irregular Imperatives in Compounds

What you probably know:

Somewhere in Latin class, you likely came across the most common irregular imperatives: dīc, fer, dūc, fac — Speak, Carry, Lead, Do. I repeat them in this order to recreate the mnemonic DFDF, SCLD — Dufus! Dufus! Scold him!, which I was introduced to early on.

What you might not know is whether these irregular forms are maintained within compounds. Indeed, they are, with one exception.

  • Cōnfer haec exempla: compare these examples.
  • Infer tribūtum reditūs foederāle semel in annō: pay your federal income taxes once a year.
  • Eam addūc ut moveat: persuade her to move.
  • Dēdūc maiōrīs verbīs fābulam: expand on your story with more words.
  • Maledīc donec potes: curse them while you still can.

The exception is therefore fac, which is derived from faciō, a verb that more often than not takes its compounds in –ficiō. Such compounds do not display an irregular imperative.

  • Effice tria carmina: complete three poems.
  • Infice regem priusquam cīvēs cōnficiat: poison the kill before he kills the citizens.

If you’d like a refresher on the plurals: cōnferte, addūcite, maledīcite, facīte, efficite, etc.

Also, note that early late features the occasional face, dūce, and dīce (but never fere).

The Essential A & G: 182.

The Latin Syllabe

Latin syllables are numbered according to the separate vowels and diphthongs within a word.

a-ci-ē (3), fī-li-us (3), etc.

A consonant is generally contained within the unit of a following vowel, except where there is a double consonant, since paired consonants are always separated, or where a consonant ends a word.

pa-ter (2), in-iū-ri-a (4), mit-tō (2)

(Not that is a semi-consonantal glide pairing, where the i is sounded as the English y.)

This rule becomes trickier with double consonants: what do we do with dixit? (dix-it or di-xit?)

  • A&G prefer dix-it, but acknowledge there is no hard and fast rule. Like the corresponding Greek ξ, this word would have been sounded as dic-sit, so it’s really a matter of preference where you put the double consonant.
  • Luckily, the double consonants, sd and ps, are much rarer in Latin

Note the distinction between a

  • Any syllable founding with a vowel or diphthong is open.
  • Any syllable ending with a consonant is closed.

In compounds, the rules are modified a little to mark the separation of compounded parts.

du-plex (2) instead of dup-lex (2) [it’s not clear to me whether this is a matter of A&G convention, or broader Latin phonological patterns of pronunciation.]

The Essential AG: 7, 7a-b

Compounds of Fīō

Compounds of faciō vary between passives in -fīō and passives in -ficior. The distinction? Check the vowel a (faciō) in the compound. In the rare case that this is retain in the compound, then –fīō is also retained.

benefaciō, benefacere, benefēcī, benefactum (in place of the expected beneficio/ficere/fēcī/fectum, and hence the English ‘benefaction’ but also ‘infection.’)

  • benefīō, benefierī, benefactus sum

Several of the faciō compounds that feature -ficiō/-ficior forms will also feature passive -fīō forms, with separate meanings.

  • cōnfit, it happens
  • dēfit, it lacks
  • īnfit, he beings (to speak)
  • interfit, he perishes
  • superfit, there remains

The Essential AG: 204b-c


The essential verb faciō, facere, fēcī, factum, is generally regular, though features a few variant forms you may not have known, and a distinct set of rules for compounds which you may have always ‘sensed’ but never understood.

Exceptional Features

The two exceptional features of faciō are its imperative singular (just the fac, ma’am—not face, which sounds like a Canadian swearing), and its passive forms, derived from fīō (to be discussed in a later post).

Faciō also features a variant future perfect faxō (in place of the more common fēcerō) and a variant perfect subjunctive faxim (in place of the more common fēcerim).

Compound Rules

Compounds of faciō (i) replace a with i and (ii) replace the supine -actum with –ectum, and while retaining the -iō declension, sometimes they feature passive forms that are not derived from fīō.

  • cōnficiō, cōnficere, cōnfēcī, cōnfectum (finish)
  • cōnficior, cōnficī, cōnfectus sum (die) [but note that ‘ficior’ is not a word!]
  • afficiō, afficere, affēcī, affectum (affect)
  • afficior, afficī, affectus sum (be affected
  • inficiō, inficere, infēcī, infectum (dye, poison)
  • inficior, inficī, infectus sum (be poisoned)

Relation to PIE

For those interested in the topic discussed in the last post, the Latin faciō is derived from the PIE dʰeh₁, which also produced τίθημι, do, and (the German) tun.

The Essential AG: 204, 204a

Latin ‘I’ in Compounds of Iaciō

I found a bit more on the letter I (long /i/, short /ɪ/, consonant /y/ before vowels = long feet, short tittle, consonant yes).

In compounds of iaciō, where the post-i ‘a’ is transformed into an ‘i’ [con-iaciō -> con-iiciō -> con-iciō], although the second i is no longer written within Latin script, it was apparently still pronounced within Latin speech. Thus, is is /kɔnyɪkyo/ and not /kɔnɪkyo/ (for those not-versed in IPA – it’s ‘con-yicki-o’ not ‘con-icki-o’).

This has been deduced by analysis of verse poetry, since the ‘o’ in con-iiciō would be scanned long if the first ‘i’ operates as a consonant, but scanned short if the speaker were merely voicing con-iciō.

The Essential AG: 6d, 11e