Elements of Latin Lesson 54
Word Formation

Oleum et operam perdidī — I have wasted time and labor
From Plautus. Literally, I have wasted oil (i.e. lamp oil) and labor.

373. One of the most important of the Latin prefixes is in-. We have already learned something of its use with verbs. It is then the same as the preposition in, and has the same meanings of in, on, into, against, and has the same force in related English words: as, Latin indūcō, lead into; English induce, meaning to lead one into some course of action.

374. But there is another prefix in-, identical in form but of a different origin, which may be combined with an adjective or an adverb. This in- negatives the word to which it is attached: thus, fīrmus, firm or strong, but īnfīrmus, infirm or weak. The same prefix is similarly used in English: as, insecure, insincere, invalid, etc. In English the prefix often changes its form to un-, as in unsafe, unmoved, etc. This in- is never used as a Latin preposition, but only as a prefix.

375. Latin prefixes before a consonant may change their final consonant to a similar letter or one more easily pronounced. This is called assimilation. Thus, in- + mortālis = immortālis, immortal; con + rēctiō = corrēctiō, correction. Compare also such English words as impossible (in- + possum), irresponsible (in- + respondeō), illiberal (in- + līberālis), etc.

376. Another important point is that Latin simple verbs having a short a in the first syllable followed by a single consonant (as in capiō) generally change a to i in the present, and to e in the past participle, when the simple verb is compounded with a prefix. So in- + capiō becomes incipiō in the present and inceptus in the past participle. The same change in spelling follows in English; from capiō we have capture, but incipiō gives us incipient, and inceptus, inception. So recipiō gives us recipient, recipe, and receptus, reception, receptive.


Print Lesson 54 Exercises

377. Derivation. Name ten English words in the composition of which the prefix in- is used, and state the force of the prefix.

378. Give the synopsis, active and passive, of iaciō, cupiō, iubeō, vāstō.


Special Vocabulary

Latin Word Meaning Related Words
appellō, -āre, -āvī, ātus to call, name appellation, appeal
cōnservō, -āre, -āvī, ātus to preserve, keep safe conserve, conservation
ita thus, so, in this way
iūdicium, -ī (n) judgment, trial judicial
remittō, -ere, -mīsī, -missus to send back remit, remiss, remission
statim at once, instantly

379. Porsenna in mediīs castrīs sedēbat et magnopere perterrēbātur, nam suum perīculum ex animō agere nōn poterat. Spectāvit Mūcium et dīxit: "Vītam meam petere, Rōmāne, parābās. Meō iūdiciō sine auxiliō sociōrum id negōtium nōn suscēpistī. Nārrā malum cōnsilium ac cōnservā vītam tuam. Sī nōn ita faciēs, ignī1 cremāberis."2 Mūcius respondit: "Nōn vītam sed patriam cōnservāre est officium Rōmānum. Poenās tuās minimē timeō. Vītam Rōmānam rapere potes, sed animō3 Rōmānō nocēre nōn potes." Tum statim dextram4 mediō ignī,5 quī nōn longē aberat, iniēcit,6 nec dolōre7 superābātur. Post id factum ēgregium Porsenna vetuit eum interficī et iussit eum ad Rōmānōs remittī. Posteā Mūcius appellātus est Scaevola.8

1 By fire. 2 cremō, -āre, to burn, consume. 3 Why dative? See §224. 4 Dextra, -ae (f), right hand. 5 mediō ignī, into the midst of a fire. 6 iniēcit, he thrust. 7 By the pain. Scaevola, left-handed.

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