Uses of Diēs

Lewis and Short have a different take on the masculine/feminine division of diēs. They claim that diēs is properly masculine, but appears in poetry (metrī gratiā) as a feminine noun to mean ‘day’ in prose to mean ‘time’ or ‘date.’

They pull a number of examples from Ennius, Ovid, Horace and Vergil to support this, but then also lay bare that Julius Caesar (feminine) and Sallust (masculine) use the two genders of diēs for the same phrases. What are your thoughts on this?

Caesar actually uses a variety of diēs phrases:

postridiē eius diē : after that day

diem ex diē dūcere : to lead (troops) day by day

The phrase in diēs is generally translated ‘every day.’ Cf. cotidiē and in diem, which mean roughly the same.

The feminine uses of diēs in prose are generally of a piece: dictā, edictā, cōnstitūtā, praestitūtā, pacta, statā, annuā… you get the idea.

A few more phrases:

  • dicere diem alicuī : to bring a charge against someone (by specifying a court day)
  • diēs natālis : birthday
  • in diem vīvere : to live day-to-day (paycheck-to-paycheck, so to speak—hopefully few of my readers!)

Plūrālia Aliēna

The follow is a list of nouns whose standard semantic meaning is altered when the noun is made plural.

  • aedēs, is (f) temple —> aedēs house
  • aqua, ae (f) water —> aquae mineral springs, watering hole
  • auxilium, -ī (n) help —> auxilia auxiliary forces
  • bonum, ī (n) a good —> bona goods, property
  • carcer, -ēris (m) dungeon, prison —> carcerēs race course barriers
  • castrum, -ī (n) fort —> castra military camp
  • comitium, -ī (n) place of assembly —> comitia election
  • cōpia (f) plenty —> cōpiae stores, troops
  • fidēs, -is (f) harp-spring —> fidēs, um lyre
  • fīnis, -is (m) end —> fīnēs boundaries
  • fortūna, -ae (f) fortune —> fortūnae possessions
  • grātia, -ae (f) favor —> grātiae thanks, the Graces
  • hortus, -ī (m) garden —> hortī pleasure-grounds
  • impedīmentum, -ī (n) hindrance —> impedīmenta baggage
  • literra, -ae (f) letter —> litterae literature, epistle
  • locus, -ī (m) place —> locī topics (but loca (n) places)
  • mōs, mōris (m) habit, custom —> mōres character
  • nātālis, -is (m) birthday —> nātālēs descent, origin
  • opera (f) work —> operae day-hands
  • ops, -is (f) help —> opēs resources, wealth
  • pars, -tis (f) part —> partēs stage role, party
  • rōstrum, (n) beak of a ship —> rōstra speaker’s platform
  • sāl (m/n) salt —> salēs (m) witty jokes
  • tabella (f) tablet —> tabellae records

The Essential A & G: 107

I-Stems: Ablative -ī [6/8]

We see that -im and tend to be common in the same words. That is, where -im is of frequency, so too is .

  • For more on where the -im ending shows up, see this post.
  • Beyond the contents of that post, the -ī ablative ending also appears:


1. with secūrī
2. with the adjectives (nominative -is) where these are used as nouns:

  • aequālī (a contemporary)
  • annālī (annals)
  • aquālī (washbasin)
  • cōnsulārī (former consul, member of the consular rank)
  • gentīlī (relative)
  • molārī (millstone)
  • prīmpīlārī (chief centurion)
  • tribūlī (fellow tribesman)

(As adjectives proper, they would be aequāle, annāle, etc. in the ablative.)

3. in the ablative of i-stem neuters (animālī, baccārī, etc.)


1. With the following nouns: avis, clāvis, febris, fīnis, īgnis, imber, lūx, nāvis, ovis, pelvis, puppis, sēmentis, strigilis, turris (definitions)

2. With the following adjectives (nominative -is or -ens) where they are used as substantives:

  • affīnī (son-in-law)
  • bipennī (battle-ax)
  • canālī (pipe)
  • familiārī (immediate family member)
  • nātālī (birthday, anniversary)
  • rīvālī (rival, competitor)
  • sapientī (wise man)
  • tridentī  (trident)
  • trirēmī (trireme)
  • vōcālī (vowel, vocalist (pl.))

(As adjectives, they would be affīne, bipenne, etc.)

Apparent Exceptions—

  1. The ablative of famēs (hunger) is always famē (not famī nor fame)
  2. The case defective māne (morning) is sometimes mānī (the word is found only in the ablative).
  3. Canis (dog) and iuvenis (youth) always take the ablative -e, never . (contrast with avisclāvis, etc.)