Octopuses or Octopi?

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The editors at Merriam Webster clarify how to correctly pluralize the word octopus. Before you watch, what’s your guess?

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Brian Wasko

Brian WaskoBrian is the founder and president of WriteAtHome.com. One of his passions is to teach young people how to write better.View all posts by Brian Wasko

  1. CFloyd
    CFloyd01-18-2012

    Wouldn’t it be OctoPOdes – since she said any foreign word adopted or word-napped into English gets an English accent? If in English (yes, AMERICAN English) you just read the word, “octopodes” you would either say, “OCT-oh-pohds” or “oct-oh-POH-des” right? Not whatever Greek way she said it.

    It’s Octopi… because that’s just cooler. Octopodes just crosses the line into nerd.

    • Brian Wasko
      Brian Wasko01-18-2012

      Not every word gets an English pronunciation. Americans normally keep the french pronunciations (while the English tend to Anglicize them). We pronounce renaissance ren-eh-SAHNS not ren-AY-sens. We say an-TITH-i-sis not AN-ti-THEE-sis. I think she is just saying words tend to get Anglicized plural forms when they get adopted into English.

  2. Brian Wasko
    Brian Wasko01-13-2012

    Syllabuses is just as correct as syllabi. In fact, the octopuses argument applies here as well and makes a better case for syllabuses.

  3. Lois
    Lois01-13-2012

    I thought so!

    Syllabuses, syllabi (had a college professor of education that turned gnarly if any student failed to use the correct plural on that one!) Of course, it is incorrect the say, “The school bi were lined up at the corner.” And, if I were scuba diving and saw more than one octopus, I would be grateful to escape, regardless of the correct plural!

    Oh, and anyone who would use octopedes, should pursue a career in marine biology.

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