Are We Us? — Nouns

The same suffixes—ārius, tōrius, and sōrius—that formed a number of adjectives in this post can also be put to use as nouns with a regular range of meanings. This meaning is often restricted to the gender of the noun formed. Again, these denote a kind of belonging.

-ārius (m.) employee in a particular field

  • argentārius, -ī silversmith, broker
  • coriārius, -ī leather worker
  • Corinthiārius, -ī Corinthian bronze worker (for those not in the know, Corinthian bronze had Gucci bag status in antiquity)
  • mirābiliārius, -ī miracle worker
  • operārius, ī worker, day-laborer

-ārius (f.) thing associated with a particular field

  • aerāria, -ae copper mine
  • argentāria, -ae bank
  • arēnāriae, -ārum sandpits (arēna, sand)
  • Asināria, -ae the play The Ass (with fabula, -ae implied)

-ārium (n.) thing (often a place) associated with a field

  • aerārium, -ī treasury
  • tepidārium, -ī warm bath
  • sūdārium, -ī towel
  • salārium, -ī salary
  • calendārium, -ī notebook (calendae, calends)

-tōria / -sōria (f.) and -tōrium / -sōrium (n.) thing (often a place) associated with a field

  • Agitātōria,ae The Driver by Platus (agitātor, driver, with fabula, -ae implied)
  • auditōrium, -ī lecture room
  • tentōrium, -ī tent (tendō, stretch)
  • tēctōrium plaster (tectus, covered)
  • portōrium toll (portus, harbor)

The Essential AG: 254.1-5

Our Latin Kin

Not all relations between Latin and English counterparts may be described as derivation. There are a few genuine parallels that stem from a more distant common relation (proto-Indo-European). With these words, Latin is less a mother or grandmother, and more of a cousin.

As we can imagine, this kind of relationship features more striking variations in phonetic form than direct derivation. As Latin and (what A&G call) Primitive Germanic began to undergo separate consonantal and vowel shifts, their PIE derivations took on similar yet distinct forms, which eventually conformed to distinct phonological rules in each family of languages.

(*ph₂tḗr) —> pater / father

(*bʰer) —> ferō / bear, frater / brother

(*dwṓu) —> duo / two, (dēns) dentis / tooth

(*h₁rew) —> ruber / red

(*h₂wḗh) —> ventus / wind

(*sneygʷʰ) —> nive / snow

(*ǵʰans) —> ānser / goose

For those interested, you’ll find a larger list in A&G (19). There are some general phonological rules we see emerging: the aspirated b of PIE becomes Lain f/b and English f/b/v, the aspirated d of PIE becomes Latin f/b/d but in English only d, etc.

The Essential AG: 18, 19

Latin Derivatives: Direct and Indirect

I trust that if you’re reading this, you understand that many English words ‘are derived from’ Latin counterparts, though we can further distinguish this by stating that there are two varieties of derivation: direct and indirect.

Direct Latin derivatives (for instance ‘fact’ from the Latin factum) are more or less coequal adoptions, whereas indirect Latin derivatives (such as ‘feat’ from the French ‘fait’ from the Latin factum) feature a few sound shifts which echo the modifications of the mediating language. Another example: from dāta we have both ‘data’ (direct) and ‘date’ (indirect, through Old French ‘date’).

[A more interesting etymology, while we’re at at it: the English homograph ‘date’ (the fruit) is from the Old French ‘datte’ from the Old Provençal ‘datil’ from the Latin dactylus (the same fruit), so named because it resembled the human finger and/or because this word resembled the Semitic names for date palm: deqel/daqal, etc, which have nothing to do with fingers.]

If you’d like to rabbit-trail even further, here’s a post offering the Latin names of the five fingers, including the pinky finger, whose name made my day: (

If anyone knows of a Latin derivative which is indirect but not mediated by French or Old French, I would love to see it in the comments below.

The Essential AG: 19n2