Sunday October 22, 2006 @ 10:44 PM (UTC)

From the pages of wikipedia:

Fowler’s Modern English Usage states that “the only acceptable plural in English is octopuses”, and that octopi is misconceived and octopodes pedantic. Octopi derives from the mistaken notion that octōpūs is a second declension Latin noun, which it is not. Rather, it is (Latinized) Greek, from oktṓpous (ὀκτώπους), gender masculine, whose plural is oktṓpodes (ὀκτώποδες). If the word were native to Latin, it would be octōpēs (‘eight-foot’) and the plural octōpedes, analogous to centipedes and mīllipedes, as the plural form of pēs (‘foot’) is pedes. In modern, informal Greek, it is called khtapódi (χταπόδι), gender neuter, with plural form khtapódia (χταπόδια).

Merriam-Webster and other dictionaries accept octopi as a plural form. The Oxford English Dictionary lists octopuses, octopi, and octopodes in order of descending frequency of use. The term octopod (either plural octopods and octopodes can be found) is taken from the taxonomic order octopoda but has no classical equivalent. The collective form octopus is usually reserved for animals consumed for food.

I am totally flabbergasted. I have been using ‘octopi’ (though blessedly not on this website) for years! I guess I had better use ‘octopodes’, because it says ‘octopodes’ is pedantic, and I can never pass up pedantry.


Wow. Of course, I’ve been saying “octopuses” for years, but unfortunately not because of any advanced literary knowledge on my part. I was right only out of pure ignorance. How often does THAT happen? :)

On a related note, I only just found out this past week that the American Psychological Association has declared “appendixes” to be the correct plural usage when one has more than one appendix in one’s document. “Appendices” is defunct, apparently. “Data,” however, is still the plural of “datum,” thankfully. “Our research datums suggest…” would just make me giggle, and one is NOT supposed to giggle when reading medical research.

...for bringing that to my attention. Too bad since it is so fun to say “octopi” and makes them sound more like a secret and somewhat dangerous society WHICH THEY ARE. Their fascinating, intelligent behaviors (ingenious defense/disguise mechanisms, some species have MULTIPLE methods!, escape artistry) are just too advanced and full developed for mere ___pods (the Blogstress surely knows the first part of that word and I am too lazy to look it up.) So: they are aliens. My cousin’s wife and i were talking about it recently. And now here is a video of an octopus capturing a wee shark:

But I will go on saying “appendices.” That’s ridiculous. I defy!


The title of your post is THE BEST EVAR! Should be entered in a bloggy contest of some sort such is its brilliance.

Would make an awesome name for a band. K i’m done.

I have to say I was a bit suspicious of this, but indeed, our (1971) OED doesn’t even mention octopi, instead giving octopodes as the normal usage, and octopuses as secondary.

But really, ‘octopi’ is in such majority usage these days-at least where I have lived-that I think the language has given up to it. I mean, we’re not French or anything.

And Yay pedantry.

We here at the Anti-Shark League are ready to remind you that sharks are aliens. We are well aware of the aid of cephalopods in fighting the carcharian menace.

I think using “octopi” is actually doing the English language, and by extension, the world, a huge favor, if for no other reason than the use of so many cool sounds in a single word.

And they don’t like it when you talk about the octopi-shark war.


I’ve been telling people this for years, and no one ever believes me. But I’m RIGHT! (And I’m the one who has owned a dead octopus in a jar of formaldehyde since I was 8, so you think people would believe me when I claim to know these things.)

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