36 thoughts on “Octopus, octopi? Or octopuses? Or octopussies?

  1. It’s not really all that difficult is it?

    Oh look, an octopus….
    Oh no, sorry, there’s two!



    1. I kind of doubt that the “octo” prefix divides pi by 10, and then adds eight. Wouldn’t it be more straightforward to set octopi = 8*pi = (approximately) 25.13?

  2. Given that the ‘pus’ part is from the classical Greek ‘pous’ the plural should be ‘octopodes’ but I’ve never heard anyone using that. ‘Octopi’ is total fake Latin.

    Octopuses is the most straightforward for English. And to add to the rotation possibilities; ‘octopussen’, having an ‘s’ more than the German.

    1. Actually the german plural is Oktopoden. And how is it that this is posted here and not on pharyngula anyway ??

    2. “‘Octopi’ is total fake Latin.”

      Except the Romans themselves used the word polypus (with the same -pus element from Greek) in the second declension, so its plural is polypi. The inflection octopus/octopi thus has Classical precedent, so it is neither fake nor wrong.

      And as Iustinus says:

      “Furthermore, it turns out that even in Greek it was sometimes treated as second declension. I mean, if it only happened in latin we could attribute it to dumb Romans making up “pseudo-Greek plurals,” but if even the Greeks got it wrong then… well I guess it isn’t wrong”

  3. Never mind the plural – I have just noticed that the octopods in the cartoon are in fact hexatentacled…

  4. I’m thinking you put that ‘misteak’ in their on purpose, but I can’t be sure.

    Just another case of a Poe, I suppose.

  5. My dorky friends and I would ponder whether it’s 2nd or 4th declension, then try to find the root in a dictionary, get distracted by some other pu- words, then bust out laughing and forget all about it.

  6. “Misteak” is a spelling error. It has nothing to do with grammar, as you seem to be implying. I am appalled, and shall be writing to the newspapers.

  7. “We get our fair share of corrections here when we make a grammatical misteak”

    Well done, sir, well done.

  8. The plural for octopus in Finnish is mustekalat, not octopust. Not a huge mistake, both words end with same letter after all.

  9. The plural for octopus in Finnish is mustekalat, not octopust. That’s not a huge mistake, both words end with the same letter after all.

  10. oct being, of course, the abbreviation for octal, the correct numeral representation is 10. Remains opus, the plural of which is opera. So the correct plural of octopus is simply
    n 10opera,
    where n denotes integer multiples. (For fractional n, see calamari fritti.)

    Unless the octopus happens to be mimic. In that case, xkcd rules apply:


  11. Thanks for my daily dose of humour. All o’ yous guys had me cracking up! So wonderfully witty and clever!

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