There are many Latin adjectives in current use. An understanding of adjectives and romance languages can help you to understand what Latin words can still be used as adjectives today.
Well Known Latin Adjectives
More than half of the words in the English language are nouns. Adjectives make up about one quarter of the words, and verbs make up around one seventh. The rest of the words is everything else: conjunctions, prepositions, exclamations, etc.
Some Latin adjectives in current use are used often enough so that they are familiar to many people. One of them is the word “emeritus” which refers to a person who has retired or been discharged from a position but retains the title of that position. In Latin, the word means “having fully earned” so it is used to honor the person.
Another example is the word “fidelis.” It means “faithful” or “trustworthy” and is well known for its use in the phrase “Semper Fidelis” which is the motto of the US Marine Corps and is sometimes shortened to “Semper Fi.”
“Gratis” means you are getting something free. “Gratis” is the plural of the word “gratia” which in Latin means “favor” or “kindness.” The word “simplex” means “simple, pure, or single.”
Latin Adjectives in Current Use
Following are a few examples of the most common Latin adjectives in current use today:
- “Alter” in Latin means “the other” or “one of two.” An example of its use is “alter ego.”
- “Aqua” means “water” in Latin and means a light, bluish green color in English.
- The word “bonus” is a Latin word for “good” or “virtuous.” In English, it refers to extra money or compensation for a good job or extra work.
- The Latin word “dives” means “rich” or “wealthy.” “Magnum” in English means a large bottle of wine or is used to refer to a certain kind of firearm, like a .44 Magnum. The Latin meaning is “great.”
- The Latin word “neuter” means “of neither sex.” “Sinister” means “of the left hand,” “adverse,” or “wrong” in Latin, and “threatening harm,” “evil,” or “unfortunate” in English.
What Is an Adjective?
An adjective describes a noun or a pronoun; it gives the reader or listener more information. The words “a,” “an,” and “the” are adjectives. The following are some examples and explanations of different kinds of adjectives.
- Possessive adjectives can modify a noun or a noun phrase, like “Is that your cell number?” where the adjective “your” modifies the phrase “cell number”. Other examples include: my, his, her, our, their, and its.
- Demonstrative adjectives tell us more about nouns or noun phrases. For example, in the sentence “That silly cat fell into the tub,” “that” modifies “silly cat.” Other demonstrative adjectives are: this, these, what, and those.
- “Which” and “what” are examples of interrogative adjectives, which also modify nouns or noun phrases. An example would be “What game are you going to see?” where “What” is asking about the word “game.”
- Indefinite adjectives are words like: many, any, few, and all. A sample sentence is: “All dogs go to heaven.” “All” modifies “dogs” but does not tell you exactly how many, so it is indefinite.
Some adjectives express degrees of modification, like “rich, richer, and richest,” or “pretty, prettier, or prettiest.” Another example is good, better, best. These three levels of comparison are called “positive,”” comparative,” and “superlative.” However, some adjectives can not have three levels or even two levels of comparison. Examples of these are: impossible, complete, final, perpetual, universal, whole, devoid, ideal, and minor.
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"Latin Adjectives in Current Use." YourDictionary, n.d. Web. 19 May 2018. <http://grammar.yourdictionary.com/parts-of-speech/adjectives/latin-adjectives-in-current-use.html>.
Latin Adjectives in Current Use. (n.d.). Retrieved May 19th, 2018, from http://grammar.yourdictionary.com/parts-of-speech/adjectives/latin-adjectives-in-current-use.html