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From quis (who?” “what?) +‎ -nam.



quisnam (femine quaenam, neuter quidnam)

  1. who, which, what?

Usage notes[edit]

  • quisnam is used substantivally, and also adjectivally:[1]
    • Publius Vergilius Maro, Aeneis, liber III. In: Virgil with an English translation by H. Rushton Fairclough, vol. I of two volumes, 1916, p. 370f.:
      aut quisnam ignarum nostris deus appulit oris?
      or what god has driven thee unknowing on our coasts?
    • Publius Papinius Statius, Thebais, liber VIII. In: Statius with an English translation by J. H. Mozley, vol. II of two volumes, 1928, p. 240f.:
      quisnam hic mortalibus error ?
      What delusion is this of mortals ?
    • Tacitus, historiarum libri, liber III. In: Tacitus: The Histories with an English translation by Clifford H. Morre / The Annals with an English translation by John Jackson, vol. I of four volumes: The Histories, Books I–III, 1962, p. 350f.:
      Bassus pudore seu metu, quisnam exitus foret, intra domum opperiebatur.
      Bassus waited in his quarters, prompted by shame or by fear as to the outcome.
    • Gajus Suetonius Tranquillus, XII/duodecim Caesares (also known as vitae XII. imperatorum and de vita Caesarum), liber I. In: Suetonius with an English translation by J. C. Rolfe, vol. I of two volumes, 1914, p. 118f.:
      Illud plane inter omnes fere constitit, talem ei mortem paene ex sententia obtigisse. Nam et quondam, cum apud Xenophontem legisset Cyrum ultima valitudine mandasse quaedam de funere suo, aspernatus tam lentum mortis genus subitam sibi celeremque optaverat; et pridie quam occideretur, in sermone nato super cenam apud Marcum Lepidum, quisnam esset finis vitae commodissimus, repentinum inopinatumque praetulerat.
      About one thing almost all are fully agreed, that he all but desired such a death as he met; for once when he read in Xenophon how Cyrus in his last illness gave directions for his funeral, he expressed his horror of such a lingering kind of end and his wish for one which was swift and sudden. And the day before his murder, in a conversation which arose at a dinner at the house of Marcus Lepidus, as to what manner of death was most to be desired, he had given his preference to one which was sudden and unexpected.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Friedrich Neue, Formenlehre der Lateinischen Sprache, 2nd part, 2nd edition, Berlin, 1875, p. 241.: "Quisnam steht substantivisch Horat. Serm. 2, 3, 158. 2, 7, 83, [more references]; aber auch quisnam exitus futurus esset Cic. Cluent. 23, 63, [more cites]. Dagegen quinam homo Plaut. Aul. 4, 9, 17, [more cites]; und substantivisch quinam exit foras Plaut. Bacch. 2, 2, 56, [more cites]."