Edward Ross Wharton found that the writers of the classical period of Latin literature, down to the death of Trajan in AD 117, used 26,326 words (excluding proper names), all of which except 4,320 sufficiently explain their own formation—thus are derivatives or compounds of these 4,320 words. In Etyma Latina: An Etymological Lexicon of Classical Latin, Wharton treats 3,055 of these 4,320 words, being those found in the 16 Latin authors of the first rank: Plautus, Terence, Cicero, Caesar, Catullus, Lucretius, Sallust, Vergil, Horace, Livy, Tibullus, Propertius, Ovid, Persius, Tactitus, and Juvenal. Setting aside some 380 words of obscure origin which cannot as yet be classified, these 3,055 words fall into the following three classes:
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Edward Ross Wharton (1844–1896) earned his BA and MA from Trinity College, Oxford. In 1868, he was elected fellow of Jesus College, Oxford, and was a noted philologist and genealogist.