Plural of "Octopus"

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What are the proper plurals of "octopus"?

Octopuses
50
25%
Octopi
41
20%
Octopodes
68
33%
Octopes
3
1%
Octopoxen
18
9%
Otters
24
12%
 
Total votes: 204

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Plural of "Octopus"

Postby sourmìlk » Tue Aug 21, 2012 3:06 pm UTC

I like all plurals except "Octopuses."

People don't like "Octopi" because it's a latinized plural of an English word, but I don't think that's a bad thing: Latin pluralization has been adopted as an English idiom. And for good reason: it does away with awkward plurals like "axises" or "octopuses".

And "octopodes" makes sense because it's a greek pluralization of a word made of greek roots, and also sounds awesome.

EDIT: added new options.
Last edited by sourmìlk on Sat Sep 01, 2012 6:15 am UTC, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Plural of "Octopus"

Postby AvatarIII » Tue Aug 21, 2012 3:17 pm UTC

I know Octopodes is correct, and I would use it formally, but I would probably use Octopuses in conversation, or informal usage, I would never use Octopi by choice.

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Re: Plural of "Octopus"

Postby Роберт » Tue Aug 21, 2012 3:18 pm UTC

sourmìlk wrote:People don't like "Octopi" because it's a latinized plural of an English word, but I don't think that's a bad thing: Latin pluralization has been adopted as an English idiom. And for good reason: it does away with awkward plurals like "axises" or "octopuses".

And "octopodes" makes sense because it's a greek pluralization of a word made of greek roots, and also sounds awesome.

I like the Latin plural for all words that are > 1 syllable and end in "-us" (becomes "-i") and "is" (becomes "-es"), regardless of the etymology. The -ises and -uses are just awkward.

Greek makes sense but it's less familiar, and we've bastardized our language enough I have no problem standardizing on one thing, even if it's etymologically incorrect.

Cactus -> cacti
Octopus -> octopi
Apparatus -> apparati
Alumnus -> Alumni
Crisis -> crises
Penis -> penes
Basis -> bases
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Re: Plural of "Octopus"

Postby sourmìlk » Tue Aug 21, 2012 3:24 pm UTC

AvatarIII wrote:I know Octopodes is correct, and I would use it formally, but I would probably use Octopuses in conversation, or informal usage, I would never use Octopi by choice.


But octopi sounds so nice and natural...
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Re: Plural of "Octopus"

Postby AvatarIII » Tue Aug 21, 2012 3:26 pm UTC

sourmìlk wrote:
AvatarIII wrote:I know Octopodes is correct, and I would use it formally, but I would probably use Octopuses in conversation, or informal usage, I would never use Octopi by choice.


But octopi sounds so nice and natural...


I don't even think cacti sounds natural, even though I know it is, :lol:

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Re: Plural of "Octopus"

Postby hotaru » Tue Aug 21, 2012 4:50 pm UTC

"octopuses" or "octopodes", never "octopi". "octopus" is an english word made of greek roots, so either english or greek pluralization makes sense.

Code: Select all

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isPrime n 
factorial (1) `mod== 1

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Re: Plural of "Octopus"

Postby Роберт » Tue Aug 21, 2012 5:02 pm UTC

hotaru wrote:"octopuses" or "octopodes", never "octopi". "octopus" is an english word made of greek roots, so either english or greek pluralization makes sense.

Hydrophobic?

Edit: well, when I looked it up phobia came from latin but I forgot about phobos...
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Re: Plural of "Octopus"

Postby sourmìlk » Tue Aug 21, 2012 5:25 pm UTC

hotaru wrote:"octopuses" or "octopodes", never "octopi". "octopus" is an english word made of greek roots, so either english or greek pluralization makes sense.

My point was rather that octopi is an English pluralization because that pattern of pluralization is used in both Latin and English.
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Re: Plural of "Octopus"

Postby Роберт » Tue Aug 21, 2012 5:33 pm UTC

sourmìlk wrote:
hotaru wrote:"octopuses" or "octopodes", never "octopi". "octopus" is an english word made of greek roots, so either english or greek pluralization makes sense.

My point was rather that octopi is an English pluralization because that pattern of pluralization is used in both Latin and English.

I agree... with sourmilk?

But I thought he was permanently in the wrong?
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Re: Plural of "Octopus"

Postby sourmìlk » Tue Aug 21, 2012 7:08 pm UTC

And thus by the transitive property of equality (your opinion = my opinion = wrong), so are you. Welcome to the club!
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Re: Plural of "Octopus"

Postby Роберт » Tue Aug 21, 2012 8:00 pm UTC

sourmìlk wrote:And thus by the transitive property of equality (your opinion = my opinion = wrong), so are you. Welcome to the club!

Ha, you said I was wrong, therefore I must be right! :P
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Re: Plural of "Octopus"

Postby sourmìlk » Tue Aug 21, 2012 8:20 pm UTC

But in thinking that you're right, because you agreed with me and thus are now permanently wrong, then you must be wrong! But because I asserted you're wrong, then you must also be right! And so we enter an infinite loop, in which it is impossible to determine correctness relative to me.
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Re: Plural of "Octopus"

Postby webzter_again » Tue Aug 21, 2012 9:41 pm UTC

sourmìlk wrote:But in thinking that you're right, because you agreed with me and thus are now permanently wrong, then you must be wrong! But because I asserted you're wrong, then you must also be right! And so we enter an infinite loop, in which it is impossible to determine correctness relative to me.


This is pretty much how every Calvin and Hobbes strip about Calvinball ended.

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Re: Plural of "Octopus"

Postby sourmìlk » Tue Aug 21, 2012 11:59 pm UTC

webzter_again wrote:
sourmìlk wrote:But in thinking that you're right, because you agreed with me and thus are now permanently wrong, then you must be wrong! But because I asserted you're wrong, then you must also be right! And so we enter an infinite loop, in which it is impossible to determine correctness relative to me.


This is pretty much how every Calvin and Hobbes strip about Calvinball ended.


Considering the rules of calvinball, you'd think the strips would end with Calvin winning.
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Re: Plural of "Octopus"

Postby troyp » Wed Aug 22, 2012 12:17 am UTC

Роберт wrote:
sourmìlk wrote:And thus by the transitive property of equality (your opinion = my opinion = wrong), so are you. Welcome to the club!

Ha, you said I was wrong, therefore I must be right! :P

What have you done?? You've cast the entire thread into paradox, now.

I'm happy with "octopuses" or, slightly more formally, "octopodes". I don't like "octopi". Although I somewhat agree that both Greek and Latin pluralizations have sort of become part of English and it may be okay to "regularize" certain plurals to conform to them if their standard plurals are more awkward, I just don't see "octopuses" as in any way awkward or unusual. Also, I don't see Latin "-us" declension nouns as being very common in English anyway. So "octopi: just seems like a bizarre bastardization.

I do think it would be good to pluralize -(s,x)is words to -es without concern for their etymology, though.

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Re: Plural of "Octopus"

Postby webzter_again » Wed Aug 22, 2012 1:04 am UTC

octocat: http://octodex.github.com/red-polo/
octocats: http://octodex.github.com/momtocat/

octopussy
octopussies : http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/octopussies (see also http://octopussies.tumblr.com/)

There is no other valid option*

* I don't have any marine biologist friends nor does octopus come up in casual conversation in the midwest very often**

**as in, never

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Re: Plural of "Octopus"

Postby sourmìlk » Wed Aug 22, 2012 1:53 am UTC

Yeah, I'd say that about 75% of the time I've talked about octopodes, it's been discussing the correct pluralization.
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Re: Plural of "Octopus"

Postby notzeb » Wed Aug 22, 2012 4:30 am UTC

I have always maintained that the correct pluralization is "octopoxen".
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Re: Plural of "Octopus"

Postby Iranon » Wed Aug 22, 2012 5:41 am UTC

Octopi chafes my linguistic sensibilities in a place they haven't grown calli yet.
To my knowledge, Romans would have called them polypodes (analogous to octopodes, also a greek loan word but they don't need to count how many feet the slimy things have) and octopodes feels most natural to me.

Octopuses should be acceptable. Possibly crude, but then octopodes is possibly pretentious/pedantic prickery.
Last edited by Iranon on Wed Aug 22, 2012 9:37 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Plural of "Octopus"

Postby phlip » Wed Aug 22, 2012 7:38 am UTC

"Octopuses" is fine... it's a standard English pluralisation pattern, and no-one's going to get confused by you saying it, or stumble over the word and have to think about it for a moment.

"Octopi" is... well... it's popular enough that people will know what you mean, so it fits the descriptivist definition of "OK". However, I'll never use it, and while I don't look down on people who do use it as much as I used to, I'll still look down pretty heavily on people who claim that it's more right than the other options... people who will hear someone say "octopuses" and "correct" them with "octopi". Those people are still wrong. But people using it non-smugly? I'm becoming OK with that. And people using it for humour (in the same vein as "penii" or "ninjae") I can get behind.

"Octopodes" is the most etymologically-correct option, however it's not one that satisfies the descriptivist test... significantly fewer people will immediately be able to know what you're talking about if you use it, without having to think about it. So it's not as useful for everyday casual speech. Also, if you're going to use it, make sure you're pronouncing it correctly... standard English pronunciation rules suggest that "-podes" should have a long O, and a silent E... and I thought so too for ages until I heard it pronounced. It actually has a short O, and an audible E. /ɒkt.ˈɒ.pəd.iːs/, not /ˈɒkt.ə.poʊds/.

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Re: Plural of "Octopus"

Postby Jplus » Wed Aug 22, 2012 8:58 am UTC

I seem to recall something about "octopus" being derived from Latin, but not from the O-declination (which would otherwise license the "octopi" plural). According to that explanation, "octopes" was the right plural.
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Re: Plural of "Octopus"

Postby Iranon » Wed Aug 22, 2012 9:36 am UTC

Close. If we wanted a truly latin word we'd have octopes, plural octopedes.

Which would be entirely artificial - As I mentioned, Latin speakers used the greek loanword polypus, plural polypodes.
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Re: Plural of "Octopus"

Postby Роберт » Wed Aug 22, 2012 2:34 pm UTC

phlip wrote:"penii"

Plural of "penius".
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Re: Plural of "Octopus"

Postby troyp » Wed Aug 22, 2012 5:16 pm UTC

notzeb wrote:I have always maintained that the correct pluralization is "octopoxen".

I'm convinced :-).
phlip wrote:it's popular enough that people will know what you mean, so it fits the descriptivist definition of "OK".

Yeah, but then fuck descriptivism. That's just what we resort to when the battle's already lost :-). Well, also to describe language change that does not consist of errors being incorporated into our language.
"Octopodes" is the most etymologically-correct option, however it's not one that satisfies the descriptivist test... significantly fewer people will immediately be able to know what you're talking about if you use it, without having to think about it. So it's not as useful for everyday casual speech. Also, if you're going to use it, make sure you're pronouncing it correctly... standard English pronunciation rules suggest that "-podes" should have a long O, and a silent E... and I thought so too for ages until I heard it pronounced. It actually has a short O, and an audible E. /ɒkt.ˈɒ.pəd.iːs/, not /ˈɒkt.ə.poʊds/.

Octopodes is a bit more formal, though. It would probably be well understood in contexts where it's likely to be used. A silent e is characteristically English, but I don't think it ever occurs in Latin or Greek words, does it? These words tend to be easy to pronounce because they come from sane languages. (Well, okay, Latin has, like, four conjugations and five declensions or something, but at least it bothers to have regularity.)
<pedantic>I think "It actually has a short O" is meant to be "It actually has stress on the second syllable"</pedantic>
Iranon wrote:Close. If we wanted a truly latin word we'd have octopes, plural octopedes.

Which would be entirely artificial - As I mentioned, Latin speakers used the greek loanword polypus, plural polypodes.

But then, for the second half of its history, Latin was "entirely artificial". Presumably most words coming to English directly from Latin (complete with Latin plurals, as opposed to words from romance languages like Frech) came from Scientific Latin rather than "natural" Latin. I don't know how many of those words were "artificially" Latinized, but there must be a few.

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Re: Plural of "Octopus"

Postby Iranon » Wed Aug 22, 2012 6:31 pm UTC

True, but people don't suddenly talk about luxoscriby instead of photography because they decide they like Latin better than Greek.
English is quite bad about mangling Latin, but there are SOME standards.

Foreign words and loanwords are fine, hypercorrection isn't. Hardly exclusive to English though, I recall some 2000+ year old Latin poetry mocking a friend of the author for trying to sound all Greek and fancy, with mangled Latin.
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Re: Plural of "Octopus"

Postby Wnderer » Wed Aug 22, 2012 6:38 pm UTC

Octopus should be the plural of octopus, because what's good for the moose is good for the octopus.

Octopi is a verb meaning to hit someone with an octopus.

"I'll octopi you!"

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Re: Plural of "Octopus"

Postby joek » Fri Aug 31, 2012 8:19 am UTC

Jplus wrote:I seem to recall something about "octopus" being derived from Latin, but not from the O-declination (which would otherwise license the "octopi" plural). According to that explanation, "octopes" was the right plural.


Octopes? Hmm, not convinced.

If the word octopus were Latin, it could be second declension nominative, in which case the plural would be octopi, or fourth declension nominative or a bunch of other cases, in which case the plural would be octopus. (In a similar way, the correct Latin plural of status is status, although using it as such in English is at best clumsy).

In Latin, the word octopus could be translated as octopes, -pedis; in which case the 'correct' plural would be octopedes.

If the word was octops, octopis, then the 'correct' plural would be octopes :P

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Re: Plural of "Octopus"

Postby sourmìlk » Sat Sep 01, 2012 6:16 am UTC

I have now added the options Octopoxen, Octopes, and Otters. Add your vote now!
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Re: Plural of "Octopus"

Postby bantler » Thu Sep 06, 2012 11:01 pm UTC

You missed Octopussy Riot

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Re: Plural of "Octopus"

Postby sourmìlk » Fri Sep 07, 2012 9:36 am UTC

My dad asserts that the correct pluralization is "Octopossie".
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Re: Plural of "Octopus"

Postby StapleHorseOctopus » Fri Jun 27, 2014 9:00 am UTC

"Octopussies" should also be a valid one.

Because just like feles octopi like to snuggle.

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Re: Plural of "Octopus"

Postby eviloatmeal » Fri Jun 27, 2014 9:12 am UTC

"Octopi" sounds the most satisfying to me, and that's usually the form I'll employ, but in my head I can't stop hearing "octopussies". Sort of like the pronunciation of "axes", the plural of "axis".
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Re: Plural of "Octopus"

Postby Xenomortis » Thu Jul 03, 2014 2:38 pm UTC

Obviously octopi is 8 * π.

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Re: Plural of "Octopus"

Postby eternalfrost » Wed Dec 31, 2014 9:44 pm UTC

Actually, the plural of octopus is octopus.

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Re: Plural of "Octopus"

Postby Izawwlgood » Wed Dec 31, 2014 10:27 pm UTC

False!
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Re: Plural of "Octopus"

Postby SuperJedi224 » Fri Apr 17, 2015 10:09 pm UTC

I'm pretty sure it's octopedes, which isn't on the list.
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Re: Plural of "Octopus"

Postby The Fantasist » Fri Apr 24, 2015 5:34 am UTC

Octopod. Pod is the plural of ped. It's Greek. (94%confidence rating.)

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Re: Plural of "Octopus"

Postby ThirdParty » Tue May 26, 2015 5:07 am UTC

"Octopuses" is a technical term refering to members of genus Octopus. Contrast with "octopodids", "octopodoids", "octopods", and "octopodiforms", which refer to members of broader taxonomic categories.

I don't like "octopodes", because it sounds too similar to "octopods". Also, I'm inclined to reserve it in case we need to add another taxonomic category later.

For the plural of the non-technical sense of "octopus", then, the only remaining option is "octopi". The fact that it's technically wrong to apply a Latin plural to a Greek word will only help emphasize to the listener that the speaker is speaking non-technically.

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Re: Plural of "Octopus"

Postby phlip » Tue May 26, 2015 8:27 am UTC

ThirdParty wrote:I don't like "octopodes", because it sounds too similar to "octopods".

Only if you pronounce it wrong (as I did for years, before I was shown this video)... as discussed upthread, it's a Greek word, the E isn't silent.

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Re: Plural of "Octopus"

Postby Lazar » Tue May 26, 2015 11:49 am UTC

ThirdParty wrote:"Octopuses" is a technical term refering to members of genus Octopus. Contrast with "octopodids", "octopodoids", "octopods", and "octopodiforms", which refer to members of broader taxonomic categories.

Could you back that up? As far as I can tell, "octopus" refers to members of the order Octopoda, not the genus Octopus in particular. (Wikipedia says "An octopus is a cephalopod mollusc of the order Octopoda"; "Octopus is the largest genus of octopuses, comprising more than 100 species.") Would you also argue that the African elephant is not an elephant because it's not a member of the genus Elephas?
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