gender of -opsis?

Stephen Gaimari SGaimari at CDFA.CA.GOV
Wed Aug 14 15:34:22 CDT 2002

The ending -opsis for a genus is feminine if it is the NOUN "opsis", meaning semblance or appearance, as Barry Roth wrote.  But, if it is adjectival, then it can be masculine, feminine or neuter, depending on gender of the governing noun.

Dr. Stephen D. Gaimari
Plant Pest Diagnostics Lab
California Department of Food and Agriculture
3294 Meadowview Road
Sacramento, CA 95832-1448, USA

916-262-1131 (tel.)
916-262-1190 (fax)
sgaimari at 

>>> Doug Yanega <dyanega at POP.UCR.EDU> 08/14/02 03:15PM >>>
I'm confused. I was under the impression that the ending -opsis was
feminine. I just came across a case where a single author named
several species in the genus Calliopsis, some of which seemed fine
(gilva, crypta, fulgida), and another which does not (limbus). In the
etymologies, he states - for example - that gilva is from the Latin
gilvus, and fulgida is from Latin fulgidus. He also states that
limbus is from the Latin limbus. Nothing is stated about it being a
noun in apposition. Should this not also agree with the generic
gender? Most other species epithets in the genus are feminine, except
those by Cresson, which are always masculine (e.g., Calliopsis
In scanning over other genera with the -opsis ending, I note that
while most epithets are feminine, certain authors such as Girault and
Ashmead consistently used masculine endings for all such genera in
which they named species, and as far as I can see all these names are
still used with the masculine endings, even though other epithets in
the same genera are feminine. I truly doubt that the authors of the
genera in question ALL specified in the original generic descriptions
that they considered the genus name to be neuter, or that the authors
of the epithets ALL specified that they were nouns in apposition.
Am I correct, then, in changing the endings in my own lists to be
feminine, pending the drudgery of digging through all the original

On a related thought, how many people out there would strenuously
object if the ICZN declared, on date X, that from date X all epithets
were forever fixed in their present state, and all future epithets
were fixed at time of publication? This would certainly make
databasing a whole lot easier, if nothing else.


Doug Yanega        Dept. of Entomology         Entomology Research Museum
Univ. of California - Riverside, Riverside, CA 92521
phone: (909) 787-4315 (standard disclaimer: opinions are mine, not UCR's)
   "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
         is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82

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