Do the Latin stress rules (antepenultimate if penultimate is light, penultimate if heavy) have any known exceptions? Also, sometimes the rule assigns antepenultimate stress to a syllable belonging to a prefix — does the rule apply regardless?

  • Just make believe that I know the regular cases, and want to know about the special cases.
    – jogloran
    May 22, 2012 at 22:14
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    Take supersum, for example, which by the rule has penultimate stress. Is the stress in the form superest antepenultimate as the rule would also predict?
    – jogloran
    Jul 30, 2012 at 10:45
  • I put a bounty on this because the common reference material aimed at learners never suggests that the stress rules have exceptions. However, I have a vague recollection of cases where the rules don't hold: possibly final stress is involved.
    – jogloran
    Jan 15, 2013 at 12:21
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    I wouldn't worry about exceptions so much - there is no consensus among scholars, anyway - see e.g. Sihler 1995: 240-241 (a-d).
    – Alex B.
    Jan 17, 2013 at 18:00
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1 Answer 1


Here's a summary of most common exceptions (based on Belov 2007, Borovskii and Boldyrev 1975, Sihler 1995, Tronskii 2001):

word final:

  • illic (from illice), istuc (from istuce), adhuc (from adhuce), addic (from addice), adduc (from adduce);
  • NOM.SG.M. ending in -as or -is (originally, -atis and -itis respectively); e.g. nostras, Arpinas, Maecenas, Samnis etc.;
  • audit (from audivit), fumat (from fumavit), irritat (from irritavit) etc.;
  • interjections attat and papae;
  • calefacis.


  • GEN. for nouns ending in -ius and -ium;
  • enclitic -que, -ne, -ue. e.g. Musaque, uidesne, facisue. cf. itaque vs. itaque.
  • I knew there were some forms derived from syncope or apocope. Thanks for the reference.
    – jogloran
    Jan 22, 2013 at 22:48
  • Unfortunately none of the references apart from Sihler (1995) turn up on Google Scholar. Are those three works not in English?
    – jogloran
    Jan 23, 2013 at 6:14
  • Well, I tried to find something relatively "recent" published in English (e.g. Baldi's textbook or the Blackwell Companions - there's not much written there). However, the most interesting research on Latin has been published -unsurprisingly- in languages other than English (German, French, and Russian). Tronskii was a Soviet linguist (Leningrad), Belov is at Moscow State (btw his dissertation is on Latin accent), and Borovskii and Boldyrev 1975 is a really good textbook. You may want to take a look at Weiss 2009 (in English) - I don't have a copy at hand now.
    – Alex B.
    Jan 23, 2013 at 15:45
  • "GEN. for nouns ending in -ius and -ium;" — what does this mean, exactly? Genitives that end in -ius/ium are pronounced with stress on the penultimate? Or the genitives of words that end on -ius/ium in the nominative, so -ii? Probably the former?
    – Cerberus
    May 9, 2013 at 6:16
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    GEN.SG. ii= >i, e.g. Vergili, imperi, consili etc., stress on the penultimate, regardless of syllable weight.
    – Alex B.
    May 10, 2013 at 22:57

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