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130. Some Comparatives and Superlatives appear without a Positive:—

ōcior, swifter; ōcissimus, swiftest.
potior, preferable; 1 potissimus, most important.

a. The following are formed from stems not used as adjectives:2

cis, citrā (adv., on this side): citerior, hither; citimus, hithermost.
(prep., down): dēterior, worse; dēterrimus, worst.
in, intrā (prep., in, within): interior, inner; intimus, inmost.
prae, prō (prep., before): prior, former; prīmus, first.
prope (adv., near): propior, nearer; proximus, next.
<*>ltrā (adv., beyond): ulterior, farther; ultimus, farthest.

b. Of the following the positive forms are rare, except when used as nouns (generally in the plural):—

exterus, outward; exterior, outer; extrēmus (ex timus ), outmost
īnforus, below (see § 111. b); īnferior, lower; īnfimus ( īmus ), lowest.
posterus, following; posterior, latter; postrēmus (pos tumus ), last.
superus, above; superior, higher; suprēmus or sum mus, highest

But the plurals, exterī, foreigners; īnferī, the gods below; posterī, posterity, superī, the heavenly gods, are common.

Note.--The superlative postumus has the special sense of last-born, and was a well known surname.

1 The old positive potis occurs in the sense of able, possible.

2 The forms in -trā and -terus were originally comparative (cf. alter ), so that the comparatives in -terior are double comparatives. Īnferus and superus are comparatives of a still more primitive form (cf. the English comparative in - er ). The superlatives in -timus (-tumus) are relics of old forms of comparison; those in -mus like īmus , summus , prīmus, are still more primitive. Forms like extrēmus are superlatives of a comparative. In fact, comparison has always been treated with an accumulation of endings, as children say furtherer and furtherest.

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