§37. The Latin suffixes -ANUS (> E -an) and -INUS (> E -ine)

So far, we have met two Latin suffixes (-ālis and īlis) that create 3rd declension adjectives. In this section we see two (-ānus and īnus) that form adjectives of the 1st and 2nd declension, as we can recognize by the reliable ending –us.

The ānus group is very small and will be dismissed with two examples:

Roma > Romanus (E Roman)
urbs, urb-is > urbanus (E urban and urbane)

The Latin word hūmānus (E human) is an odd case. Regardless of appearances, it is not related to hŭmus, “earth,” but is an irregular derivative of the 3rd declension noun homo, hominis, “mankind,” “humankind,” “person” (to be distinguished from vir, the male human being).

The īnus group is somewhat larger and more productive, from the English point of view. Here are some representative examples:

sal, sal-is (“salt”) > salinus (E saline)

mare, mar-is (“sea”) > marinus (E marine)

divus = deus (“god”) > divinus (E divine)

femina (“woman”) > femininus (E feminine)

The corresponding word masculine is derived from masculinus, whose etymology we’ll learn a little later in the course. Notice that the -ine of these -inus derivatives can be pronounced at least three different ways in English.

You will be familiar with at least some Latin-derived adjectives that refer to animals. This was a consistent use of the suffix -inus, forming words that regularly came into English as derivatives in –ine (here pronounced to rhyme with “mine”):

canis (“dog”) > caninus (E canine, “pertaining to a dog”)

feles (“cat”) > felinus (E feline, “pertaining to a cat,” “catlike”)

equus (“horse”) > equinus (E equine, “pertaining to a horse”)

porcus (“pig”) > porcinus (E porcine, “pertaining to a pig,” “like a pig”)

These animal words are mainly clinical and technical. We say “canine distemper,” but “doggy bag”; and no one would ever reverse the two adjectives. On the other hand, we can say that a person moves with feline grace, or that someone’s appearance is porcine. When we’re being uncomplimentary or rude, we generally use Germanic adjectives. To call a man “piggy” or “piggish” is a more direct insult than to call him “porcine”—unless he’s a Latin scholar. You might describe a woman as “horsey,” referring either to her interests or to her appearance; in the second case, at least, that would be a “catty” remark.

How many English animal adjectives in -ine can you think of? How do they differ in connotation from their Germanic counterparts, such as “catty” or “piggish” or “doglike”? Search your own vocabulary honestly, and then consult the Bestiary in §41.


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Greek and Latin Roots: Part I - Latin Copyright © 2016 by Peter Smith (Estate) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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