Nouns Wanting in the Singular

Recall that ‘wanting in’ is AGspeak for ‘lacking in common use.’

Place Names

Athēnae (Athens), Thūriī (id.), Philippī (id.), Velī (id.)


Olympia (n. pl. the Olympic Games), Bacchānālia (feasts of Bacchus), Quīnguātrūs (festival of Minerva), lūdī Rōmānī (the Roman Games)

Groups and Classes

optimātēs (the upper classes), maiōrēs (ancestors), līberī (children), Diī penātēs (household gods), Quiritēs (citizens), patrēs conscriptī (fathers conscript)

Other Words

arma (arms), artūs (limbs), dīvitiae (riches), scālae (stairs), forēs (double-doors), angustiae (narrow pass), moenia (city walls)
A few of these words are made singular in English…

dēliciae (darling), faucēs (throat), īnsidiae (ambush), cervīcēs (neck), viscera (flesh)


After this list, AG has a note more or less dismissing their classification, and admitting it’s more of a tendency. Indeed, optimās may be far more rare than optimātēs, but that doesn’t make the word ‘wanting in’. Likewise with artūs; there’s nothing odd about artus. Finally, they mention that scāla is a rare word for ladder—in case you’re curious.

The Essential AG: 101


Gender of Latin Plant Nouns

Feminine. As a rule, they are feminine.

Here are some examples, with corresponding photographs:

rosa, -ae : rose

caltha, -ae : marigold

īlex, īlicis : Holm Oak

hedera, -ae : ivy
















pīnus, pīnī : (Italic) pine [yes, still feminine]

There are exceptions to this rule, as one may expect.

  • robur, -ōris : oak (n)
  • acer, acēris : maple  (n)

For a better sense of the gender distribution (largely feminine with some neuters), here’s a list of all the Latin names of ‘British’ foliage. Pay attention to the species name (and adjective) to clarify the gender of third declension nouns.

According to A&G, “many names of plants in -us vary between the second and fourth declensions.” They then give no examples. Can you think of any?

The Essential AG: 32, 32b

Famous Phrase: sub rosā [beneath the rose]

A phrase denoting secrecy. The rose was associated with silence, as was given as the symbol of Harpocrates, the god of silence at Rome. In the Middle Ages, a rose hanging over the entrance chamber of a given committee room represented a call for silence about the content of the committee’s discourse.