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Alternative forms




From Proto-Italic *terg-, of uncertain further origin. Possibly from Proto-Indo-European *(s)terģʰ- (crush), whence Sanskrit तृह् (tṛh, to crush, bruise).[1] Alternative theories take the Italic root as an extension of *terh₁- (to rub) (whence terō).





tergeō (present infinitive tergēre, perfect active tersī, supine tersum); second conjugation

  1. (transitive) to rub, wipe, wipe off, clean, cleanse
    Synonyms: abstergeō, pūrgō, luō, putō, effingō
    Antonyms: inquinō, polluō, maculō, scelerō, contingō
  2. (transitive) to polish, burnish
  3. (transitive) to tickle, whet
  4. (figuratively, transitive) to molest, harass
  5. (figuratively, transitive) to expiate the murder


  • In surviving Classical sources, the passive voice is limited to the third-person forms.
   Conjugation of tergeō (second conjugation)
indicative singular plural
first second third first second third
active present tergeō tergēs terget tergēmus tergētis tergent
imperfect tergēbam tergēbās tergēbat tergēbāmus tergēbātis tergēbant
future tergēbō tergēbis tergēbit tergēbimus tergēbitis tergēbunt
perfect tersī tersistī tersit tersimus tersistis tersērunt,
pluperfect terseram terserās terserat terserāmus terserātis terserant
future perfect terserō terseris terserit terserimus terseritis terserint
passive present tergeor tergēris,
tergētur tergēmur tergēminī tergentur
imperfect tergēbar tergēbāris,
tergēbātur tergēbāmur tergēbāminī tergēbantur
future tergēbor tergēberis,
tergēbitur tergēbimur tergēbiminī tergēbuntur
perfect tersus + present active indicative of sum
pluperfect tersus + imperfect active indicative of sum
future perfect tersus + future active indicative of sum
subjunctive singular plural
first second third first second third
active present tergeam tergeās tergeat tergeāmus tergeātis tergeant
imperfect tergērem tergērēs tergēret tergērēmus tergērētis tergērent
perfect terserim terserīs terserit terserīmus terserītis terserint
pluperfect tersissem tersissēs tersisset tersissēmus tersissētis tersissent
passive present tergear tergeāris,
tergeātur tergeāmur tergeāminī tergeantur
imperfect tergērer tergērēris,
tergērētur tergērēmur tergērēminī tergērentur
perfect tersus + present active subjunctive of sum
pluperfect tersus + imperfect active subjunctive of sum
imperative singular plural
first second third first second third
active present tergē tergēte
future tergētō tergētō tergētōte tergentō
passive present tergēre tergēminī
future tergētor tergētor tergentor
non-finite forms active passive
present perfect future present perfect future
infinitives tergēre tersisse tersūrum esse tergērī tersum esse tersum īrī
participles tergēns tersūrus tersus tergendus
verbal nouns gerund supine
genitive dative accusative ablative accusative ablative
tergendī tergendō tergendum tergendō tersum tersū

Derived terms



  • English: detergent
  • Old French: terdre
  • Spanish: terger
  • Romanian: șterge


  • tergeo”, in Charlton T. Lewis and Charles Short (1879) A Latin Dictionary, Oxford: Clarendon Press
  • tergeo in Enrico Olivetti, editor (2003-2024), Dizionario Latino, Olivetti Media Communication
  • tergeo”, in Charlton T. Lewis (1891) An Elementary Latin Dictionary, New York: Harper & Brothers
  • tergeo in Gaffiot, Félix (1934) Dictionnaire illustré latin-français, Hachette.
  • Pokorny, Julius (1959) Indogermanisches etymologisches Wörterbuch [Indo-European Etymological Dictionary] (in German), volume 3, Bern, München: Francke Verlag, page 1071
  1. ^ De Vaan, Michiel (2008) Etymological Dictionary of Latin and the other Italic Languages (Leiden Indo-European Etymological Dictionary Series; 7), Leiden, Boston: Brill, →ISBN, page 614