The plural of the English loadword vena cava from Latin is venae cavae. What are the etymological and grammatical reasons for this plural? Why are both words in a single term pluralized? And are there other similar terms in English?

  • 2
    plural feminine nouns of the first declension end in -ae in nominative and vocative case, and case of adjectives is governed by the noun the modify. now the fun for you of learning of latin morphology...
    – user31341
    Commented Mar 18, 2018 at 21:11
  • The plural of the French loan words chaise longue, bon mot, and agent provacateur really should be chaises longues, bons mots and agents provacateurs. Commented Sep 9, 2019 at 12:01

1 Answer 1


The phrase "vena cava" literally translates from the Latin "hollow (like a cave) vein".

In Romance languages, the adjective is pluralized with the noun, hence "venae cavae".

As for examples of other plural Latin phrases in English; these are rare. The only I find is "almae matres" as the technically correct, but increasingly unused, plural of "alma mater".


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.