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Latin numbers (edit)
 ←  8 IX
10  → 
    Cardinal: novem
    Ordinal: nōnus
    Adverbial: noviēs, noviēns, nōniēs, nōniēns
    Multiplier: novemplus, novemplex, nōnuplus, nōnuplex, noncuplus, noncuplex, novemcuplus, novemcuplex
    Distributive: novēnus
    Fractional: nōnus


Probably from earlier *novensno-, constructed by combining novem (nine) or *noven with a suffix *-sno- derived from rebracketing of *tris-no- (the original form of ternus) as *tri-sno-.[1] The form *tris-no- came from Proto-Indo-European *trís (thrice) (the ancestor of Latin ter (thrice)) and the adjective-forming suffix *-nós (equivalent to Latin -nus).



novēnus (feminine novēna, neuter novēnum); first/second-declension numeral

  1. (in the plural) Nine each.
    • 4 CEc. 70 CE, Columella, De Re Rustica
      Sed veteres maximae quaeque gallinae vernaculi generis eligantur, eaeque novem diebus a primo lunae incremento novenis ovis incubent
      But the oldest and largest hens of the common type should be chosen, and should incubate nine eggs each nine days after the moon first starts to wax
  2. (Medieval Latin) Ninefold.
    Synonym: novēnārius
    • 11th century, Cui canit hymnilogum :[2]
      Laudibus angelicus quem succinit ordo novenus
      • 2004 translation by Gunilla Iversen
        We praise you to whom the ninefold angelic order sing with praises
  3. (Medieval Latin) Ninth.
    Synonym: nōnus
    • c. 1460, Registrum abbatiae Johannis Whethamstede, 1 357:
      terminato anno octavo, inchoanteque noveno
      with the eighth year ended, and the ninth beginning

Usage notes[edit]

This is part of the Latin series of distributive numerals. These numerals are inflected as first/second-declension adjectives; in Classical Latin, they typically accompany plural nouns (with which they agree in case and gender) and have the following functions:

  • to express the sense “[numeral] [noun]s each/apiece”, as in hominis digiti ternos articulos habent, “a man’s fingers have three joints each” (Pliny the Elder, Natural History 11.244.3).
  • to express multiplication after a numeral adverb,[3] as in Gallinaciis enim pullis bis deni dies opus sunt, pavoninis ter noveni "hens' [eggs] need twice ten days, peahens' thrice nine" (Marcus Terentius Varro, Res Rusticae 3.9.10)
  • to express the sense of cardinal numerals when used with pluralia tantum (plural-only nouns) such as castra "camp":[3] for example, "twelve camps" is expressed by duodēna castra (Pliny the Elder, Natural History 7.105.5). Distributive forms are regularly used in this context for the number 2 and for all numbers greater than 4. For 1, plural-only nouns are used with plural inflected forms of the cardinal ūnus (one), as in ūnae scālae "one flight of stairs" (rather than with forms of the distributive numeral singulus). For 3 and 4, plural-only nouns are used with the plural inflected forms of trīnus[4] and quadrīnus, as in trīna castra "three camps" (rather than with forms of ternus and quaternus, which tend to be used in distributive function[5]).

These adjectives do not normally occur in the singular.[6] Because of this, many grammars and dictionaries treat them as plural-only words and refer to them using the nominative masculine plural form in , rather than the nominative masculine singular form in -us (which is often unattested in Classical Latin). However, some of these adjectives are attested in the singular in Classical Latin poetry[3] (e.g. Sed neque Centauri fuerunt, nec tempore in ullo / esse queunt duplici natura et corpore bino..., Titus Lucretius Carus, De Rerum Natura 5.879, and Sic tu bis fueris consul, bis consul et ille, / inque domo binus conspicietur honor, Publius Ovidius Naso, Epistulae ex Ponto 4.9.64; "corpore bino" here seems to have the sense of "twofold body", and "binus ... honor" the sense of "double/dual/twofold honor"). Singular forms are also attested in postclassical Latin, where these adjectives sometimes have non-distributive meanings (taking an ordinal, cardinal, or collective sense instead). These alternative senses are sometimes continued by Romance descendants (e.g. Spanish noveno (ninth) from Latin novēnus).

The genitive plural of singulus is usually singulōrum/singulārum, but distributive numerals greater than one commonly use short genitive plural forms ending in -num rather than the longer forms ending in -nōrum and -nārum.[6][4]


First/second-declension adjective.

Number Singular Plural
Case / Gender Masculine Feminine Neuter Masculine Feminine Neuter
Nominative novēnus novēna novēnum novēnī novēnae novēna
Genitive novēnī novēnae novēnī novēnōrum
Dative novēnō novēnō novēnīs
Accusative novēnum novēnam novēnum novēnōs novēnās novēna
Ablative novēnō novēnā novēnō novēnīs
Vocative novēne novēna novēnum novēnī novēnae novēna

Derived terms[edit]


  • Portuguese: noveno
  • Sicilian: nuvenu, nuvena
  • Spanish: noveno
  • Old Piedmontese: noven


  1. ^ Leumann, Manu; Hofmann, Johann Baptist; Szantyr, Anton (1977) Lateinische Grammatik: Lateinische Laut- und Formenlehre, CH Beck, § 381.B, page 495
  2. ^ Gunilla Iversen (2004), “Fictiones or figurata ornamenta? On the Concept of "Poetry" in the Period of Transition from a Monastic to a Scholastic Culture”, in Signs of Change: Transformations of Christian Traditions and their Representation in the Arts, 1000–2000 (Textxet: Studies in Comparative Literature), Editions Rodopi B.V., →ISBN, page 350
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Henry John Roby (1876) A Grammar of the Latin Language from Plautus to Suetonius, volume 1, pages 443-444
  4. 4.0 4.1 J. P. Postgate (1907), “The so-called Distributives in Latin”, in The Classical Review, volume 21, issue 7, page 201
  5. ^ S. E. Jackson (1909), “Indogermanic Numerals”, in The Classical Review, volume 23, issue 7, page 164
  6. 6.0 6.1 Karl Gottlob Zumpt (1853), Leonhard Schmitz, Charles Anthon, transl., A Grammar of the Latin Language, 3rd edition, page 101

Further reading[edit]