Extending “once, twice, thrice”

Oxford claims that “there is nothing after once, twice, thrice:” fuck that.

It turns out that “once,” “twice” and the like are based on the composition of an ancient numerical adverb with the adverbial genitive suffix -s (see table 1).

Table 1: Numerical adverbs
Ancient adverb   Adverbial genitive   Modern adverb
ene + -s \(\to\) once
twie + -es \(\to\) twice
thrie + -s \(\to\) thrice

With a little philological Schadenfreude, we can continue this series (see table 2).

Table 2: New numerical adverbs
Ancient adverb   Adverbial genitive   Modern adverb
féower + -s \(\to\) fource
fíf + -es \(\to\) fives
sexe + -es \(\to\) sixes
seofon + -s \(\to\) sevence
ehte + -s \(\to\) eights
neȝen + -s \(\to\) nines
tyen + -s \(\to\) tence

Coming up with novel compounds is the ancient pastime of dabbling philologasters;1 more difficult is selling them to an intransigent public.


It would be nice to retro-extend the series to the zeroeth element, “nonce”; but that’s already been taken by a composition of “one’s” genitive, aness, with the adverbial suffix -s.



“Philologaster” (a pseudo-philologist) comes from philologue + -aster: a suffix expressing incomplete resemblance.