What is the Plural of Octopus?

Octopi vs octopuses vs octopodes

What has eight arms, three hearts, uses camouflage and has a very confusing plural form?

The octopus!  

The English language can be quite puzzling at times. As a mother of two boys, we have LEGO tiles all over the house. And while there are hundreds of LEGO on the floor that I have to tiptoe around, please notice the plural of LEGO is still LEGO. Confusing? Yes, it certainly is.

Which brings me to today’s blog topic: What is the plural of octopus? How would you tell your friends that your saw a video that featured more than one glass octopus?

To get us started, let’s take a look at the word: octopus. It is a Latinized form of the Greek word októpus, which translates to “eight foot.”

Disclaimer: Before I dive in, I will acknowledge that people have very strong opinions about grammar: Oxford comma usage as one such example. So, please go easy on the author of this blog.

Octopi ❌

While “octopi” has become popular in modern usage, it’s wrong. Octopi is the oldest plural form of octopus, coming from the belief that Latin origins should have Latin endings. However, octopus is not a simple Latin word, but a Latinized form of the Greek word októpus. Consequently, its “correct” plural form would logically be octopodes.

Octopodes ❌

“Octopodes” stems from the belief that because octopus is originally Greek, it should have a Greek ending. This term might be technically correct, but it is the least-used incorrect form of the word for more than one octopus. Using “octopodes” might cause more confusion than it’s worth.

Octopuses ✅

“Octopuses” gives the word an English ending to match its adoption as an English word. Generally, when a noun enters into English, it is pluralized as an English word rather than in its original form. Octopuses may sound peculiar to some, but this is the preferred plural.

It’s also peculiar to debate octopuses when the octopus is a solitary creature. So, they would very much prefer we didn’t have this discussion in the first place!

The moral of the story is—it’s a good thing to see multiple octopuses! It means we have a healthy ocean.

You Can Help Octopuses

Unlike other species, octopuses don’t have a hard shell or sharp spines to protect themselves, so camouflage is their best bet for avoiding hungry predators. They use this ability to hide in reefs, rocks or sand.

One thing octopuses can’t hide from? Ocean plastics.

The ocean plastics villain may prove deadlier than any of those natural predators ever could.

But we can stop this. We can keep ocean plastics out of these creatures’ homes. Join us in taking action today.Take action on plastic pollution today. Tell Congress to support the REDUCE Act and make it less desirable to create new plastics.

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