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The cuneus
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Borrowed from Latin cuneus. Doublet of coign and coin.


cuneus (plural cunei)

  1. (neuroanatomy) A portion of the occipital lobe of the human brain, involved in visual processing.
  2. (entomology) A wedge-shaped section of the forewing of certain heteropteran bugs.
  3. (architecture) One of a set of wedge-shaped divisions separated by stairways, found in the Ancient Roman theatre and in mediaeval architecture.




Uncertain root, apparently with the suffix -eus. Various problematic comparisons to either Proto-Indo-European *h₂eḱ- (sharp) or *ḱúH- (spike; sting) (compare Latin culex (mosquito), Avestan 𐬯𐬏𐬐𐬁 (sūkā, needle), Sanskrit शूक (śūka, spike, bristle; sting (of an insect)), शूल (śūla, spear; stake) etc.) have been unfruitful; a long vowel (*cūneus) would be expected in the latter case, and the morphology of the -n-eus suffix remains opaque. One possibility is that cuneus is a borrowing from Ancient Greek γώνιος (gṓnios, corner, angle) via an Etruscan intermediate which could explain the devoicing.[1]



cuneus m (genitive cuneī); second declension

  1. wedge, wedge shape
  2. (military) troops arrayed in a wedge formation
  3. (military, figuratively) an army
  4. (theater) a block of seats


Second-declension noun.

Case Singular Plural
Nominative cuneus cuneī
Genitive cuneī cuneōrum
Dative cuneō cuneīs
Accusative cuneum cuneōs
Ablative cuneō cuneīs
Vocative cunee cuneī

Derived terms[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ De Vaan, Michiel (2008) “cuneus”, in Etymological Dictionary of Latin and the other Italic Languages (Leiden Indo-European Etymological Dictionary Series; 7), Leiden, Boston: Brill, →ISBN, page 154
  • cuneus”, in Charlton T. Lewis and Charles Short (1879) A Latin Dictionary, Oxford: Clarendon Press
  • cuneus”, in Charlton T. Lewis (1891) An Elementary Latin Dictionary, New York: Harper & Brothers
  • cuneus in Charles du Fresne du Cange’s Glossarium Mediæ et Infimæ Latinitatis (augmented edition with additions by D. P. Carpenterius, Adelungius and others, edited by Léopold Favre, 1883–1887)
  • cuneus in Gaffiot, Félix (1934) Dictionnaire illustré latin-français, Hachette.
  • Carl Meißner, Henry William Auden (1894) Latin Phrase-Book[1], London: Macmillan and Co.
    • to draw up troops in a wedge-formation: cuneum facere (Liv. 22. 47)
  • cuneus”, in Harry Thurston Peck, editor (1898), Harper's Dictionary of Classical Antiquities, New York: Harper & Brothers
  • cuneus”, in William Smith, editor (1854, 1857), A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography, volume 1 & 2, London: Walton and Maberly
  • cuneus”, in William Smith et al., editor (1890), A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, London: William Wayte. G. E. Marindin