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Latin princeps (first, foremost)



  1. One who, or that which, is foremost, original, etc.
  2. The editio princeps, or first edition of a book.




From Proto-Italic *priisemokaps by syncope. Surface etymology: prīmus (first) +‎ -ceps (catcher).


The length of the vowel in the first syllable is uncertain. Although the first element etymologically has a long vowel, there is evidence that originally long vowels could be shortened before consonant clusters starting in resonant consonants such as [ŋ] in Latin (a similar sound change by the name of Osthoff's Law occurred in Greek). Princeps is traditionally given with a long vowel, but an archaic Italian form prence exists, which would have developed from prĭnceps with a short vowel.[1][2]


prī̆nceps (genitive prī̆ncipis); third-declension one-termination adjective

  1. first, foremost
  2. chief, distinguished


Third-declension one-termination adjective.

Number Singular Plural
Case / Gender Masc./Fem. Neuter Masc./Fem. Neuter
Nominative prī̆nceps prī̆ncipēs prī̆ncipia
Genitive prī̆ncipis prī̆ncipium
Dative prī̆ncipī prī̆ncipibus
Accusative prī̆ncipem prī̆nceps prī̆ncipēs prī̆ncipia
Ablative prī̆ncipī prī̆ncipibus
Vocative prī̆nceps prī̆ncipēs prī̆ncipia



prī̆nceps m (genitive prī̆ncipis); third declension

  1. leader, first man
    Consortionis Populorum Princeps
    Head of the Commonwealth
  2. principal person
  3. author, originator, founder, head
  4. chief, director
  5. prince, sovereign
  6. (military, as plural) company or division of the second line of soldiers


Third-declension noun.

Case Singular Plural
Nominative prī̆nceps prī̆ncipēs
Genitive prī̆ncipis prī̆ncipum
Dative prī̆ncipī prī̆ncipibus
Accusative prī̆ncipem prī̆ncipēs
Ablative prī̆ncipe prī̆ncipibus
Vocative prī̆nceps prī̆ncipēs

Derived termsEdit




  • princeps in Charlton T. Lewis and Charles Short (1879) A Latin Dictionary, Oxford: Clarendon Press
  • princeps in Charlton T. Lewis (1891) An Elementary Latin Dictionary, New York: Harper & Brothers
  • princeps in Charles du Fresne du Cange’s Glossarium Mediæ et Infimæ Latinitatis (augmented edition, 1883–1887)
  • princeps in Gaffiot, Félix (1934) Dictionnaire Illustré Latin-Français, Hachette
  • Carl Meissner; Henry William Auden (1894) Latin Phrase-Book[1], London: Macmillan and Co.
    • to be considered the foremost orator: primum or principem inter oratores locum obtinere
    • to be considered the foremost orator: oratorum principem esse
    • to be the chief man in the state: principem civitatis esse
    • to hold the first position in the state: principem in re publica locum obtinere
    • statesmen: principes rem publicam administrantes or simply principes
    • to occupy the first, second position in the state: principem (primum), secundum locum dignitatis obtinere
    • the aristocracy (as a leading class in government): principes or primores
  • princeps in Harry Thurston Peck, editor (1898) Harper's Dictionary of Classical Antiquities, New York: Harper & Brothers
  • princeps in Ramminger, Johann (accessed 16 July 2016) Neulateinische Wortliste: Ein Wörterbuch des Lateinischen von Petrarca bis 1700[2], pre-publication website, 2005-2016
  • princeps in William Smith et al., editor (1890) A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, London: William Wayte. G. E. Marindin
  1. ^ Sihler, Andrew L. (1995) New Comparative Grammar of Greek and Latin, page 78
  2. ^ Sayeed, Ollie (01 Jan 2017) "Osthoff’s Law in Latin", in Indo-European Linguistics, Volume 5, Issue 1, page 158