I really like science. I find it generally fascinating and wonderful, but there are certain topics within science that really get me giddy. One such topic is cephalopods. I did my science fair project involving the bacteria that make squid glow when I was in ninth grade, and I’ve been gaga for the creatures ever since. They’re just so nifty.
Whenever I see articles about new discoveries regarding this magnificent group, I’m all in. I mean what isn’t cool about squid having a symbiotic relationship with bio-luminescent bacteria that reflects moonlight, so it can move about without casting a shadow on the sea floor and thus protecting it from predators? Or that Octopi have this crazy ability to change shape and texture to blend in with their environment?
Anyway, the other day I was scrolling through my Facebook feed, and I saw an article regarding the octopus. I was instantly excited. What other coolness could I learn? But then, sadness struck. I couldn’t take this article seriously. They had spelled the plural of octopus as “octopuses.”
What dopes, I thought.
Anybody who knows anything knows that octopus becomes octopi. This article obviously had no credibility. But something in me just couldn’t let it go.
I soon found myself on Merriam-Webster’s website and to my sheer delight I learned that octopuses is indeed an acceptable plural of octopus. In standard English, octopus would be pluralized to octopuses. But because people wanted to be more in-line with Latin root words they pluralized words ending in “us” with an “i.” The rub is that the root word of octopus is not Latin, but Greek, making the plural “octopodes” which is really weird and confusing. In conclusion, technically all three plural forms−octopuses, octopi, and octopodes−are correct.
This was great news! I could read the article after all. I will still default to octopi, but this is captivating stuff. See, even the words used to name these wonderful beings are crazy fascinating!
Happy wordy Friday!