pecus

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Latin[edit]

Etymology[edit]

Derived from pecū, from Proto-Indo-European *peḱu- (livestock, domestic animals). Cognates include Sanskrit पशु (páśu, cattle), Old Armenian ասր (asr, fleece), Old Saxon fehu, Old English feoh, Gothic 𐍆𐌰𐌹𐌷𐌿 (faihu), Old Norse , Swedish and Lithuanian pēkus (cattle).

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

pecus n (genitive pecoris); third declension

  1. (zoology) A group of large domestic animals: a herd of cattle, horses, or donkeys; such animals in a collective sense: cattle and equines.
    • 1st century bc, M. Terentius Varro, Rerum Rusticarum, Book II, Ch. 1, §12:
      ...est scientia pecoris parandi ac pascendi ut fructus quam possint maximi capiantur ex eo... Ea partes habet novem, discretas ter ternas, ut sit una de minoribus pecudibus cuius genera tria oves, capra, sus, altera de pecore maiore, in quo sunt item ad tres species natura discreti: boves, asini, equi. Tertia pars est in pecuaria quae non parantur ut ex iis capiatur fructus, sed propter eam aut ex ea. Sunt muli, canes, pastores.
      ...there is a knowledge of tending and feeding livestock so that the greatest profit is siezed from it... It has nine parts, three divisions of three items each, such that one is about the lesser domestic animals whose three species are the sheep, goat, and pig and another about the greater livestock, in which there are likewise three kinds divided by their nature: cows, donkeys, and horses. The third part is in animals which are not raised so that profit may be seized from them themselves but because of or from the other groups above. They are mules, dogs, and shepherds.
  2. (zoology, figuratively) Any other group of animals, imagined as a herd or flock; such animals collectively exclusive of humanity: beasts.
  3. (pejorative) A mindless group of people: "cattle", "sheep", rabble, the mob.
  4. (zoology, Late Latin) Any individual animal, conceived as a member or usual member of a flock or herd.

Usage notes[edit]

In Latin, pecora may be used for any domestic animal, especially larger herd animals, but the stronger plow-drawing animals (armenta) and cart-drawing animals (iumenta) were often distinguished. In Late Latin, the neuter form of pecus was generally used for all the senses of feminine pecus below.

Inflection[edit]

Third declension neuter.

Case Singular Plural
nominative pecus pecora
genitive pecoris pecorum
dative pecorī pecoribus
accusative pecus pecora
ablative pecore pecoribus
vocative pecus pecora

Derived terms[edit]

Descendants[edit]

Noun[edit]

pecus f (genitive pecudis); third declension

  1. A single herd animal, especially a head of cattle, a horse.
  2. A single animal, a beast, especially smaller livestock or livestock taken generally.
    • 1st century bc, G. Iulius Caesar, Commentarii de Bello Gallico, Book. VI, Ch. vi:
      Caesar... adit tripertito, aedificia vicosque incendit, magno pecoris atque hominum numero potitur.
      Caesar... enters their country in three divisions, burns their houses and villages, and gets possession of a large number of animals and men.
    • 1st century bc, M. Terentius Varro, Rerum Rusticarum, Book II, Ch. 1, §12:
      ...est scientia pecoris parandi ac pascendi ut fructus quam possint maximi capiantur ex eo... Ea partes habet novem, discretas ter ternas, ut sit una de minoribus pecudibus cuius genera tria oves, capra, sus, altera de pecore maiore, in quo sunt item ad tres species natura discreti: boves, asini, equi. Tertia pars est in pecuaria quae non parantur ut ex iis capiatur fructus, sed propter eam aut ex ea. Sunt muli, canes, pastores.
      ...there is a knowledge of tending and feeding livestock so that the greatest profit is siezed from it... It has nine parts, three divisions of three items each, such that one is about the lesser domestic animals whose three species are the sheep, goat, and pig and another about the greater livestock, in which there are likewise three kinds divided by their nature: cows, donkeys, and horses. The third part is in animals which are not raised so that profit may be seized from them themselves but because of or from the other groups above. They are mules, dogs, and shepherds.
    • 29 bc. Vergil. Georgics, III
      omne adeo genvs in terris hominvmqve ferarvmqve
      et genvs æqvorevm pecvdes pictæqve volvcres
      in fvrias ignemqve rvvnt
      So far does every species on earth of man and beast,
      whether the aquatic species, livestock, or painted-winged,
      collapse into the frenzies and the fire [of sex].
  3. (pejorative) A mindless or violent person: a brute, an animal.

Usage notes[edit]

Like pecus above, this sense usually excluded the stronger plow-drawing animals (armenta) and cart-drawing animals (iumenta). This feminine pecus was also more broadly used for smaller livestock including sheep, goats, and swine, although it was used in the plural pecudes rather than as a collective noun to describe their flocks (greges). By Late Latin, it was generally confused with neuter pecus above, the latter eventually replacing it in all senses.

Inflection[edit]

Third declension.

Case Singular Plural
nominative pecus pecudēs
genitive pecudis pecudum
dative pecudī pecudibus
accusative pecudem pecudēs
ablative pecude pecudibus
vocative pecus pecudēs

Hypernyms[edit]

  • (larger livestock): pecus
  • (smaller livestock): grex

Related terms[edit]

Noun[edit]

pecūs

  1. genitive singular of pecū

References[edit]