Nouns Lacking the Singular

Book Nav

101. Some nouns are commonly or exclusively found in the Plural (plūrālia tantum). Such are—

1.  Many names of towns.

Athēnae (Athens)

2.  Names of festivals and games.

Olympia the Olympic Games
Bacchānālia feast of Bacchus
Quīnquātrūs festival of Minerva
lūdī Rōmānī the Roman Games

3.  Names of classes.

optimātēs the upper classes
mâiōrēs ancestors
līberī children
penātēs household gods
Quirītēs citizens (of Rome)

4.  Words plural by signification.

arma weapons
artūs joints
dīvitiae riches
scālae stairs
valvae folding-doors
forēs double-doors
angustiae a narrow pass (narrows)
moenia city walls

Note 1— Some words, plural by signification in Latin, are translated by English nouns in the singular number.

dēliciae delight, darling
faucēs throat
fidēs lyre (also singular in poetry)
īnsidiae ambush
cervīcēs neck
viscera flesh

Note 2— The poets often use the plural number for the singular, sometimes for metrical reasons, sometimes from a mere fashion.

ōra (for ōsthe face
scēptra (for scēptrumsceptre
silentia (for silentium) silence

102. Some nouns of the above classes (§ 101.1-4 above), have a corresponding singular, as noun or adjective, often in a special sense:

    1. As noun, to denote a single object.

      Bacchānal a spot sacred to Bacchus
      optimās an aristocrat

    2. As adjective: Catō Mâior (Cato the Elder).
    3. In a sense rare, or found only in early Latin.

      scāla a ladder
      valva a door
      artus a joint

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.