A TEI Project

Allen and Greenough/ New Latin Grammar


236. Nouns of Agency properly denote the agent or doer of an action. But they include many words in which the idea of agency has entirely faded out, and also many words used as adjectives.

a. Nouns denoting the agent or doer of an action are formed from roots or verb-stems by means of the suffixes—

-tor (-sor), M.; -trīx, F.

can-tor, can-trīx, singer; can-ere (root CAN), to sing.
vic-tor, vic-trīx, conquerer (victorious) vinc-ere (VIC), to conquer.
tōn-sor (for †tōnd-tor), tōns-trīx (for †tōns-trix), hair-cutter; tond-ēre (TOND as root), to shear.
petī-tor, candidate; pet-ĕre (PET; petī- as stem), to seek

By analogy -tor is sometimes added to noun-stems, but these may be stems of lost verbs: as, viā-tor, traveller, from via, way (but cf. the verb inviō).

Note 1— The termination-tor (-sor) has the same phonetic change as the supine ending -tum (-sum), and is added to the same form of root or verb-stem as that ending. The stem-ending is tōr- (§ 234.2.15), which is shortened in the nominative.

Note 2— The feminine form is always -trīx. Masculines in -sor lack the feminine, except expulsor (expultrīx) and tōnsor (tōnstrīx).

b. t- , M. or F., added to verb-stems makes nouns in -es (-itis; -etis; stem it-, et-) descriptive of a character:—

prae-stes, -stitis, (verb-stem from root STA, stāre, stand), guardian.

teges, -etis (verb-stem tege-, cf. tegō, cover), a coverer, a mat.

pedes, -itis (pēs, ped-is, foot, and ī-, root of īre, go), foot-soldier.

c. -ō (genitive -ōnis, stem ōn-), M., added to verb-stems 1 indicates a person employed in some specific art or trade:—

com-bibō (BIB as root in bibō, bibere, drink), a pot-companion.

gerō, -ōnis (GES in gerō, gerere, carry), a carrier.

Note— This termination is also used to form many nouns descriptive of personal characteristics (cf. § 255).

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1 So conceived, but perhaps this termination was originally added to noun-stems.