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!)

The Criminal Inter?

The judicial phrase inter sīcāriōs means ‘on the charge of assassination.’ I’m not sure if this is as general use of inter (neither A&G nor L&S seems to say) but if I may title the ‘criminal inter‘ (from crīmen, charge/accusation) preposition, then consider the following possibilities:

  • inter impudentēs: on the charge of shamelessness
  • inter cinaedōs: on the charge of sodomy

By any and all means, correct me if I’m crazy or defend me if you think I might be on to something. I realize this is speculation; we only have limited textual data to support a theory on either side—it’s really a matter of personal judgment and extrapolation based on our available resources.

The Essential AG: 353.2

Ūsus est maiōre usū

The phrase ūsus est + ablative is the rarer counterpart to the well known opus est + ablative, signifying need.


  • Nunc vīribus ūsus est: now there is need of strength.
  • Quid istīs cōnscrīptīs ūsust: what is the use of getting these in writing?

Ūsus vēnit is another still rarer alternative.

The Essential AG: 411

A Reader’s Diēgest

Here are a few notes on the Latin for day—diēs.

1. Diēs is a fifth-declension noun.

Screen Shot 2013-10-16 at 4.34.41 PM(photo credit: Wiktionary)

2. Diēs is typically masculine (like most fifth declension nouns), but is occasionally feminine, especially in fixed phrases and general reference to time or dates.

  • cōnstitūtā diē : on a fixed day
  • longa diēs intervēnit : a long time had passed

3. Diēs is one of only two nouns in the fifth declension that is entirely declined. Rēs is  the other such noun—all other fifth declension nouns are wanting in the plural (or at least the plural genitive, dative and ablative) in extant Latin literature.

The Essential AG: 96, 97, 98a

Hedging in Latin

How does one hedge their language in Latin? One option might be a relative clause of characteristic (with the subjunctive!)

  • So far as I know, she never left the house: quod sciam, numquam domum abiit.
  • From what I have heard, he enjoys three cocktails every evening: quod audīverim, tribus mixtīs cotīdiē fruitur.
  • She’s an idiot, at least in my view: stulta est, quō modō videam.

The Essential AG: 535d