Vol. 51 No. 2 (2013)

Lat. noegeum ‘candidum ac perlucidum’ = niveum e nix – nivis – ning(u)it

Luca Rigobianco
Università degli Studi di Padova Dipartimento di Studi Linguistici e Letterari

Published 2013-09-17


  • noegeum,
  • Latin,
  • etymology


This paper starts from a Verrius Flaccus gloss, reported by Festus in his epitome (182, 18-23 L), which explains the meaning of the Latin term noegeum. This gloss raises some issues, in particular concerning the ambivalence of the tradition about the meaning of noegeum. Moreover, noegeum is an apparently isolated form in Latin and, also, in comparison with other Indo-European languages. In this paper I will show that the ambivalence of the tradition is only apparent: on the basis of both the original meaning preserved by the tradition («candidum ac perlucidum») and some formal considerations, I want to propose the hypothesis of a derivation of noegeum from *snoighw-ejo- “niveum” (< *sn(e/o)ighw(-o)- “snow, to snow”). This etymology implies the presence of a Latin base *snoighw-, alternative to *snĭghw- (> lat. nĭx, nĭvis) or alternating with it: this base can account for the presence of some Romance outcomes such as sp. nieve, whose vocalism cannot be the regular reflex of lat. nĭvem.