Octopuses or Octopi?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by JTeach619, Jul 17, 2010.

  1. JTeach619

    JTeach619 Companion

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    Alright teachers...here's one for ya! Is the plural of octopus: octopuses or octopi? I've looked it up in several dictionaries and both seem to be acceptable. I am trying to name my groups for Guided Reading and I've got Fish, Crabs, Turtles, and Octopuses/Octopi?! So...which one is it? :confused:
     
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  3. chebrutta

    chebrutta Enthusiast

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    Technically, the correct form is "octopuses" since "octopus" is from Greek, not Latin.
     
  4. Lynn K.

    Lynn K. Habitué

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    I love that there are people who know stuff like this!;)
     
  5. peridotylayne

    peridotylayne Companion

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    Ha! And to think - all this time I assumed it was octopi since cactus is cacti! Never too late to change! :)
     
  6. JTeach619

    JTeach619 Companion

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    Woot! Thank you!! I really didn't want to be saying "Alright, Octopi come to the table!" That just sounds weird!! :lol:
     
  7. chebrutta

    chebrutta Enthusiast

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    Lol, I read a lot of Greek plays in college. "-pus" is a dead giveaway.

    Actually, I aspire to be like TeacherGroupie when I grow up. Her knowledge of word origins is unparalleled.
     
  8. SashaBear

    SashaBear Companion

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  9. SashaBear

    SashaBear Companion

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    I can't find a definitive answer.
     
  10. chebrutta

    chebrutta Enthusiast

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    Jul 17, 2010

    The absolute correct form would be "octopodes" - the classic Greek plural for anything ending in -pus. Which means platypus would be "platypodes."

    However, in British and American English, it is acceptable now to pluralize Greek words using -es instead of -odes.

    "Octopi" and "platypi" are considered dead wrong, as the root word is not Latin.

    Also, in 2nd grade, I'm not sure they'd care. Sea creatures with 8 legs are awesome any way you pluralize them :)
     
  11. maya5250

    maya5250 Comrade

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    I learn something new everyday on this forum. :)
     
  12. passionateacher

    passionateacher Comrade

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    Aww man...there is a website that says "octopi" and EVERY YEAR for the past 4 years I've taught my 2nd graders the WRONG WORD! I actually looked it up in class one day and assumed the "website experts" were right. I feel silly now!
     
  13. Lynnnn725

    Lynnnn725 Connoisseur

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    I have an octopus table. I call it "the octopus table." I also have a shark table, crab table and whale table. I guess I just avoided the whole plural thing altogether. ;)
     
  14. Mrs Ski

    Mrs Ski Companion

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    Oh I like octopodes. If I ever need to make it pural this is what I would chose.
     
  15. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    chebrutta, your faith in my knowledge isn't fully justified, but I'm blushing gratefully. And well done, by the way.

    Of course, if you use octopodes, you've got to pronounce it right. The stress shifts to the second syllable, like so:

    oc-TOP-uh-dees

    Some people think children aren't interested in the real grown-up words, but my experience is that most kids enjoy codes and code words and Being In The Know. Then again, when mine were small, one of their favorite words was absquatulate. This is a made-up word I found years ago; it is literally 'to go squat somewhere else', so we used it as a high-rent and satisfactorily opaque code word for 'leave'.
     
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2010
  16. krysmorgsu

    krysmorgsu Cohort

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    I found a nice little explanation for you: http://www.factmonster.com/askeds/plural-octopus.html

    Chebrutta and TeacherGroupie are correct. Technically, the plural should be octopodes, as it does come from ancient Greek. Unfortunately, we don't really use it as acceptable English. You'd probably be better off using octopuses; while this doesn't reflect the Greek, it came into Latin belonging to 3rd declension, which the -es ending reflects. It could make an interesting teachable moment, since I'm sure some kids will argue it's octopi.
     
  17. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    I wouldn't cavil at octopods, either.
     
  18. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Or a variant on Lynnnn's neat workaround would be to refer to "Fish People", "Crab People", and "Octopus People".
     
  19. chebrutta

    chebrutta Enthusiast

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    I beg to differ. You totally rock :)
     
  20. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Now I'm really blushing.
     
  21. krysmorgsu

    krysmorgsu Cohort

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