The Derivation Of Unquam, Usquam, And Usque -- By: Lemuel S. Potwin

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 034:135 (Jul 1877)
Article: The Derivation Of Unquam, Usquam, And Usque
Author: Lemuel S. Potwin


The Derivation Of Unquam, Usquam, And Usque

Prof. Lemuel S. Potwin

The derivation of Unquam from unus and quam, given in Andrews’ Latin Dictionary, and even in White and Riddle’s, is probably satisfactory to no one. Such a use of unus is without example, and if admitted would only explain the form unquam, leaving the other form umquam inexplicable; while, as to the meaning of the word, neither unus nor quam contains the idea of time, which is fundamental to unquam.

In seeking for the origin of unquam, or umquam (from which the former comes by euphony), the first suggestion from its form would be that it comes from some interrogative or relative word, by the addition of quam. This suggestion, which, indeed, at the outset, amounts to evidence from analogy, arises from such familiar words as these: quis-quam, uti-quam, uli-que, ubi-que, undi-que. It is to be specially noted that in several words of this class the initial k sound has been lost, as is proved by the forms, ali-cubi, ali-cunde, unde-cunde. There can be no doubt, also, that uti arises from cuti. In the light of these examples then, um-quam appears to be a changed form of cum-quam, or quum-quam.

Let us turn now to the meaning of umquam. Quis-quam

means any one at all. How it comes to mean this is not essential to our present inquiry; but we may observe, in passing, how often an interrogative, by being closely connected with an enclitic or a prefix, becomes an indefinite, as in siquis, nequis, numquis, ecquis, aliquis, quispiam, quisque, and that quam passes readily from the idea of manner to that of amount and degree, as in quam multi, quamdiu. Thus quisquam would mean any-as-much-as, or just any, and in implied negative connection any at all. But whatever be the process, the result is that quisquam means any one at all, and is used in negative and exclusive sentences. Let us try this as our guide in interpreting umquam. Cum-quam would mean at any time at all, and would be used in negative and exclusive sentences. Such, precisely, is the meaning, and such is the use of umquam.

But, if this derivation is correct, why do we not find the form um? The answer is easy. First, we could not expect to have both cum and um, meaning the same thing, any more than cubi and ubi. Secondly, if two forms of cum were required, for a distribution of meaning, and either consonant should give way, it would be the weaker. Now ev...

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