pingo pingere pinxi pictum / by Anthony Gibbins

Here is a quick lesson for budding Latinists on looking up verbs in a Latin dictionary. Try looking up pingo. You will see the heading of this post, followed by a definition, in this case something like ‘to paint a picture, represent pictorially’. So what is with these four words?

Well, firstly, they aren’t really four words but four forms of the same word. pingo means ‘I paint’, pingere means ‘to paint’, pinxi means ‘I painted’ and pictum is the supine, which in the right circumstances might mean ‘in order to paint’, but is more commonly useful for forming the participle pictus, picta, pictum which means ‘having been painted’. Of course, someone beginning Latin doesn’t need to know all of this at once, but it is handy to know why the dictionary gives you so many forms of the same word.

On this page we see the word pinxit, meaning ‘he, she or it painted’, formed by changing the –i at the end of pinxi to -it. pinxisti means ‘you painted’, pinximus ‘we painted’ and pinxerunt ‘they painted’. You get the picture. Moreover, we can change the –um on the end of the supine to –or to get pictor, ‘someone who paints’. It really is a beautiful system.

Are you able to see the picture hanging on the wall? Marcellus himself once painted this picture. This picture is vendibilis*.

*Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post for the meaning of vendibilis. Hint: it has something to do with vending machines.