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Usually compared to Ancient Greek ὄνος (ónos) (which cannot be its direct ancestor), and, just like other IE words for "ass", must be traced back to an unknown substrate source in Asia Minor (compare Hieroglyphic Luwian [script needed] (tarkasna), Sumerian 𒀲 (anšu)). The lack of rhotacism of the single intervocalic -s- after a short vowel would point to a recent borrowing.



asinus m (genitive asinī); second declension

  1. a donkey, an ass
    • c. 191 BCE, Plautus, Pseudolus, act 1, scene 2:
      Neque ego homines magis asinos umquam vidi.
      At no time did I ever see human beings more like asses.
  2. (figuratively) an ass, an idiot, a dolt, a simpleton, a blockhead
    • 160 BCE, Publius Terentius Afer, Adelphoe :
      Quid tu autem huic, asine, auscultas?
    • c. 70 BCE, Cicero, 'In Pisonem', chapter 73:
      Quid nunc te, asine, litteras doceam? Non opus est verbis, sed fustibus.
      Why should I now teach you letters, idiot? I want not for words but instead cudgels.


Second-declension noun.

Case Singular Plural
Nominative asinus asinī
Genitive asinī asinōrum
Dative asinō asinīs
Accusative asinum asinōs
Ablative asinō asinīs
Vocative asine asinī


Derived terms[edit]



asinus (feminine asina, neuter asinum); first/second-declension adjective

  1. (relational) ass, donkey
  2. stupid, asinine


First/second-declension adjective.

Number Singular Plural
Case / Gender Masculine Feminine Neuter Masculine Feminine Neuter
Nominative asinus asina asinum asinī asinae asina
Genitive asinī asinae asinī asinōrum asinārum asinōrum
Dative asinō asinō asinīs
Accusative asinum asinam asinum asinōs asinās asina
Ablative asinō asinā asinō asinīs
Vocative asine asina asinum asinī asinae asina


  • asinus in Charlton T. Lewis and Charles Short (1879) A Latin Dictionary, Oxford: Clarendon Press
  • asinus in Charlton T. Lewis (1891) An Elementary Latin Dictionary, New York: Harper & Brothers
  • asinus in Charles du Fresne du Cange’s Glossarium Mediæ et Infimæ Latinitatis (augmented edition, 1883–1887)
  • asinus in Gaffiot, Félix (1934) Dictionnaire illustré Latin-Français, Hachette
  • De Vaan, Michiel (2008) Etymological Dictionary of Latin and the other Italic Languages (Leiden Indo-European Etymological Dictionary Series; 7), Leiden, Boston: Brill, →ISBN, page 57