Rules of Gender

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31. Names of Male beings, and of Rivers, Winds, Months, and Mountains, are masculine:

pater  father

Iūlius  Julius

Tiberis  the Tiber

auster  south wind

Iānuārius  January

Apennīnus  the Apennines

Note— Names of Months are properly adjectives, the masculine noun mēnsis, month, being understood: Iānuārius, January.

a. A few names of Rivers ending in -a (as, Allia), with the Greek names Lēthē and Styx, are feminine; others are variable or uncertain.

b. Some names of Mountains are feminine or neuter, taking the gender of their termination.

Alpēs (f.)  the Alps
Sōracte (n.)

32. Names of Female beings, of Cities, Countries, Plants, Trees, and Gems, of many Animals (especially Birds), and of most abstract Qualities, are feminine.

māter  mother

Iūlia  Julia

Rōma  Rome

Ītalia  Italy

rosa  rose

pīnus  pine

sapphīrus  sapphire

anas  duck

vēritās  truth

a. Some names of Towns and Countries are masculine or neuter.

Sulmō (m.)

Gabiī (m. plural)

Tarentum, Illyricum (n.)

b. A few names of Plants and Gems follow the gender of their termination.

centaurēum (n.)  centaury

acanthus (m.)  bearsfoot 

opalus (m.)  opal

Note— The gender of most of the above may also be recognized by the terminations, according to the rules given under the several declensions. The names of Roman women were usually feminine adjectives denoting their gēns or house (see § 108.b).

33. Indeclinable nouns, infinitives, terms or phrases used as nouns, and words quoted merely for their form, are neuter.

fās  right

nihil  nothing

gummī  gum

scīre tuum  your knowledge (to know)

trīste valē  a sad farewell

hōc ipsum diū   this very “long”

34. Many nouns may be either masculine or feminine, according to the sex of the object. These are said to be of Common Gender.

exsul  exile

bōs  ox or cow

parēns  parent

Note— Several names of animals have a grammatical gender, independent of sex. These are called epicene. Thus lepus (hare) is always masculine, and vulpēs (fox) is always feminine.

Suggested Citation

Meagan Ayer, Allen and Greenough’s New Latin Grammar for Schools and Colleges. Carlisle, Pennsylvania: Dickinson College Commentaries, 2014. ISBN: 978-1-947822-04-7. http://dcc.dickinson.edu/grammar/latin/rules-gender