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Defective Comparison.


Some Comparatives and Superlatives appear without Positive: -

ócior, swifter; ócissimus, swiftest.
potior, preferable ;[1][The old positive potis occurs in the sense of able, possible.] potissimus, most important.

a. The following are formed from stems not used as adjectives:[2][The forms in -trá and -terus were originally comparative (cf. alter), so that the comparatives in -terior are double comparatives. Ínferus and superus are comparative 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 -mus like ímus, summus, prímus, are still more primitive. Forms like extrémus a superlatives of a comparative. In fact, comparison has always been treated with accumulation of endings, as children say furtherer and furtherest.] -

cis, citrá (adv., on this side): citerior, hither; citimus, hithermost.
(prep., down): déterior, worse; déterrimus, worst.
in, intrá (prep., in, within): interior, inner; intimus, inmost.
prae, pró (prep., before): prior, former; prímus, first.
prope (adv., near): propior, nearer; proximus, next.
ultrá (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; extrémus (extimus), outmost.
ínferus, below (see § 111. b); ínferior, lower; ínfimus (ímus), lowest.
posterus, following; posterior, latter; postrémus (postumus), last.
superus, above; superior, higher; suprémus or summus, highest.
But the plurals, exterí, foreigners; ínferí, the gods below; posterí, posterity; superí, the heavenly gods, are common.

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