Ultimatum

Etaoin Shrdlu

μεσσηγυδορποχέστης
It appears to be the passive participle of the late Latin verb ultimo, ultimare, which means 'to come to an end'. Why an intransitive verb should have a passive participle is something I shall leave to others to explain.
 

Bestiola

Sciura Tigrina Croatica
Staff member
We've all heard ultimatum numerous times. As the word seems to be Latin, I just tried to look it up in an online Latin-to-English dictionary, only to find out that it's either not in that particular dictionary for some reason or pseudo-Latin. If it's—indeed—pseudo-Latin, what's its translation?
It's not in that dictionary since it entered English language in the 18th century, from Medieval Latin:

ultimatum (n.)
"final demand," 1731, from Modern Latin, from Medieval Latin ultimatum "a final statement," noun use of Latin adjective ultimatum "last possible, final," neuter of ultimatus (see ultimate). The Latin plural ultimata was used by the Romans as a noun, "what is farthest or most remote; the last, the end." In slang c. 1820s, ultimatum was used for "the buttocks."

 
Last edited:

Anbrutal Russicus

Active Member
It appears to be the passive participle of the late Latin verb ultimo, ultimare, which means 'to come to an end'. Why an intransitive verb should have a passive participle is something I shall leave to others to explain.
This verb is transitive, at least medievally. The only example of intransitive usage in all the dictionaries seems to a single passage in Tertullian, which can be filed with verbs like mūtāre described by the technical term 'alternating unaccusative'; cf. fīnīre "to finish speaking; to die" and the English cognate. In Late Latin such actives can even be found in the passive function.
 
Last edited:
Top