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Recent loanword, as shown by intact intervocalic -s- which otherwise rhotacized to -r- in native words. Formally incompatible with Ancient Greek ὄνος (ónos). Just like other IE words for "ass", asinus traces back to an unknown source in Asia Minor (compare Hieroglyphic Luwian tarkasna, Sumerian 𒀲 (anšu), Old Armenian էշ (ēš)).



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
    • c. 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.

Case Singular Plural
nominative asinus asinī
genitive asinī asinōrum
dative asinō asinīs
accusative asinum asinōs
ablative asinō asinīs
vocative asine asinī



  • iumenta (when used to pull carts)

Derived terms[edit]

  • asinus in tegulis (of an odd appearance; literally: a donkey on roof tiles)
  • asinus ad lyram (of an awkward man; literally: the donkey at the lyre)
  • sepulturā asini sepelietur (of a contemptible and unworthy man, that somebody will not merit any kind of burial; literally: he will be buried in a donkey's grave)



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

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


First/second declension.

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
  • du Cange, Charles (1883), “asinus”, in G. A. Louis Henschel, Pierre Carpentier, Léopold Favre, editors, Glossarium Mediæ et Infimæ Latinitatis (in Latin), Niort: L. Favre
  • asinus in Gaffiot, Félix (1934) Dictionnaire Illustré Latin-Français [Illustrated Latin-French Dictionary], Hachette
  • De Vaan, Michiel (2008) Etymological Dictionary of Latin and the other Italic Languages (Leiden Indo-European Etymological Dictionary Series; 7), Leiden, Boston: Brill, page 57