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Some Latin Plurals for Numismatists

Original article by Scott T. Rottinghaus

Recent posts to prominent numismatic e-mail lists have demonstrated a widespread difficulty in making plurals of Latin words. This supplement to my previous article on Latin pronunciation might therefore provide some help to those who haven’t previously studied Latin.

It is particularly important to understand how to make plurals in Latin, because we use them quite commonly in English. For example, a male graduate of a school is an alumnus, and two of them are alumni. However, a female graduate is an alumna, and two would be alumnae. This example demonstrates the simplest of Latin plurals, namely, those of nouns in the first and second declensions. First declension nouns end in -a, and their plurals end in -ae. Second declension masculine nouns usually end in -us, and to pluralize them the -us is changed to -i. Second declension neuter nouns end is -um, and their plurals end in -a. Unfortunately, one must be careful to remember that the plural of a fourth declension noun like “manus” (“hand”) is actually “manus” and not “mani.” And the third declension nouns can be difficult, because the stems change (e.g. the plural of “quadrans” is “quadrantes”). When in doubt, a dictionary should be consulted. Fortunately, an English dictionary will usually suffice.

Here, then, is most of the glossary from my Latin pronunciation article, listed with the appropriate plurals:

Denominations

UnciaUnciae
SextansSextantes
QuadransQuadrantes
TriensTrientes
SemisSemisses
AsAsses
DupondiusDupondii
SestertiusSestertii
QuinariusQuinarii
DenariusDenarii
AureusAurei
SolidusSolidi
TremissisTremisses
NummusNummi
ArgenteusArgentei
Antoninianus Antoniniani

Metals

AesAeres
ArgentumArgenta
AurumAura

Miscellaneous

AegisAeges
AquilaAquilae
BigaBigae
CaduceusCaducei
CippusCippi
CornucopiaCornucopiae (Cornucopias in English)
LituusLitui
ModiusModii
NomismaNomismata
OfficinaOfficinae
PalladiumPalladia
PateraPaterae
PileusPilei
QuadrigaQuadrigae
SimpulumSimpula
TesseraTesserae
Vexillum Vexilla

Praenomina (almost always abbreviated)

A=Aulus Auli
A or Ap=AppiusAppii
C=GaiusGaii
Cn=GnaeusGnaei
D=DecimusDecimi
L=LuciusLucii
M=MarcusMarci
Man or Mn=ManiusManii
N=NumeriusNumerii
P or Pub=PubliusPublii
Q=QuintusQuinti
S or Ser=ServiusServii
Sx. or Sex=SextusSexti
S or Sp=SpuriusSpurii
T=TitusTiti
Ti or Tib=TiberiusTiberii

The Twelve Caesars

Iulius CaesarIulii Caesares
AugustusAugusti
TiberiusTiberii
CaligulaCaligulae
ClaudiusClaudii
NeroNerones
GalbaGalbae
OthoOthones
VitelliusVitellii
VespasianusVespasiani
TitusTiti
DomitianusDomitiani

Other Commonly Mispronounced Emperors

Antoninus PiusAntonini Pii
Lucius VerusLuciiVeri
CommodusCommodi
Septimius SeverusSeptimii Severi

Some Imperial Titles

Tribunicia PotestasTribuniciae Potestates
ImperatorImperatores
ConsulConsules
Pontifex MaximusPontifices Maximi
Pater PatriaePatres Patriarum